Category Archives: Born Free Ethiopia

EWCP celebrates the first Wolf Day in North Ethiopia

The EWCP education officers, Fekadu and Zegeye, address the crowd at Muja Wolf Day

EWCP recently celebrated the first Wolf Day in North Ethiopia. The event was held in Muja, North Wollo, a village only a few kilometres from wolf range. The purpose of EWCP Wolf Day is to bring people together for a celebration of the Ethiopian wolves and their Afroalpine habitat, through games, sporting events, art competitions, and drama productions. More than 300 school children, villagers and administrators took part in the festivities, with Muja Primary School receiving the football trophy, and Wondach School winning the volleyball. The audience was also treated to a number of poems and a wildlife quiz, aimed at highlighting the conservation issues affecting the wolves and their habitat. The EWCP education officers, Zegeye and Fekadu, also took the opportunity to hand out information brochures to the audience that explained the concept of sustainable resource use in the highlands. The day was a real success, and we are hoping to make next year’s event even bigger and better.

As one participant remarked, “Conservation is very important, but it can also be fun!”

EWCP’s community ambassadors keeping a watchful eye on the wolves

Our  Wolf Ambassador in Aboi Gara, with the EWCP North Ethiopia monitor, Gebeyehu

There are four wolf populations in North Ethiopia and EWCP has been monitoring all of them since 2000. These populations are very small and vulnerable to extinction, however due to a limited budget, EWCP only has one wolf monitor to cover all four populations.  In order to improve our monitoring presence in the North, and to gather more information on these wolves and the threats they face, EWCP approached the local community in the Wollo highlands for help. We have now recruited three ‘Wolf Ambassadors’ in these core wolf areas, who are our eyes and ears when our monitor is elsewhere. One of these ambassadors is Tesfaye Milashu from Aboi Gara, a friend of EWCP’s since we first visited the Afroalpine range in 1999. Our Wolf Ambassadors, who have been trained and equipped with binoculars and GPS’s, represent EWCP in their local areas and monitor the wolf packs there. They are also alert to problems such as disease outbreaks or persecution. We are working on a similar concept in the southern Arsi Mountains, home to the third largest wolf population in Ethiopia, and hope to extend the ambassador programme into more wolf areas in the future.

Does my eyebrow really look like a caterpillar?

Lietl, the civet, does not live in the kitchen; she lives in the spare bedroom.  Or she did until Chris Gordon and Anne Marie Stewart, Directors of the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme, and old friends of mine, came to stay. Lietl the civet in bed That meant the civet’s room reverted to being their room, and my bedroom was adapted to become civet HQ.  There really was not another option: she is too small to cope with the existing facilities at the Rescue Centre; there are too many electrical flexes in the living room, which would be very tempting to gnaw on; the tiled bathroom is too cold; and the kitchen is obviously out – there is a limit to how much I want to share.  But being in my room was not a problem, as long as I was not there. With Chris and Anne Marie in the house they could handle Lietl’s nightly feeds, and I could sleep up at Ensessakotteh, our wildlife rescue centre, for a few nights so as to keep an eye on Kebri, the newly arrived and very traumatised lion cub.  That was Plan A.  Unsurprisingly, it did not work.

On Wednesday, after just one night at Ensessakotteh, we were told of an infant gelada that needed rescuing.  After making sure Kebri had eaten his afternoon feed, I left the Centre and headed back to Addis Ababa to collect the little orphan.  As it turned out, she was neither little nor a gelada.  Rather, she is a hamadryas baboon like Kasanchis, and not much smaller.  I had not expected anything quite so big and lively, but there was nothing else for it but to transport her back home.

Lietl, the civet

Once back at the house/office compound, we got the baboon sorted out and I could enjoy an unexpected night at home, a hot shower and my own bed – not.  I had the shower, but not the bed, or at least not to myself.  I woke up (suddenly!) at around 3am when Lietl decided to bite my eye brow.  Her teeth are too small to do any damage but it was still a rude return from dreamland.  Worse, once I was awake, she was delighted as she then thought she had a play mate… Honestly, the cold of the tent would have been preferable.

So what are the take home messages from this little saga?

  • Never believe it when someone says they have a baby of any species that needs rescuing .  Expect an elephant.
  • We are at capacity – we need more rescue accommodation now
  • Finally, think long and hard before attempting to hand raise a nocturnal animal, and especially an omnivorous one!

They can’t say thank you, but I can

Major and General, the two lions we rescued from the Army Barracks in Harar last November, have completely settled in to life at Ensessakotteh.  The first couple of months were tough.  They growled frequently at us, and would often snap, snarl and swipe at each other, just as we saw them doing in Harar.  But, finally, the peace and space of the Rescue Centre calmed them down.

HararLions before rescue_25Oct2011

HararLions before rescue_25Oct2011

These days they spend most of their time lying in the sun, in the middle of their enclosure, or else they drape themselves over one of the rocks so they can look out over the view.  There is no sign of the tension that they showed when they first arrived.  Where once they would have met each other with claws and teeth, they now head rub and lie side by side. We can even stand alongside the fence without worrying that we are disturbing them; they just calmly watch us.  Undoubtedly, they feel safe and secure in their surroundings; how different from the angry, fearful beasts they were in Harar?

Harar_Feb12_02_Major

Harar_Feb12_02_Major

Harar_Feb12_04_General

Harar_Feb12_04_General

They can’t say thank you, but I can.  The years in their old barren, stone cage are a lifetime away.  Your generosity has given these two magnificent lions a new life and, by all appearances, it is one they love.  Dare I say, it is almost as if they were born to it?

Stephen Brend

Demonstrations, dancing, desks… and a few pups too!

Work at EWCP certainly didn’t slow down as they neared the end of the year.

It was business as usual, with our wolf monitors, vaccination team and education team continuing with their programmes towards securing a future for the endangered Ethiopian wolves.

Over the last few months of 2011 we’ve seen pups born in both the Web Valley and Sanetti, we’ve celebrated Rabies Day 2011, and with Born Free’s help we’ve equipped the local Dinsho School with new desks, books and a solid fence around their tree nursery.

Rabies Day 2011

Rabies Day 2011 © EWCP

Rabies Day 2011 © EWCP

Rabies Day was a huge success in 2011, with the celebrations moving from their usual location in Dinsho to another town alongside wolf habitat, Goba. The Sanetti Primary School were the hosts for the celebrations, and they took to their assignment admirably, with the children making great posters and signs to wave during the big anti-rabies march through town, and a variety of plays and songs being performed afterwards.

Marching against rabies in Goba © EWCP

Marching against rabies in Goba © EWCP

We even had a re-enactment of an EWCP dog vaccination by the pupils, but thankfully the chosen ‘puppy’ didn’t have to face the vet team’s needle! The celebrations were timed to coincide with market day in Goba, and the children and teachers took the opportunity to hand out stickers and rabies information booklets to market goers and farmers. The day was a huge success in helping to raise awareness about this deadly disease that remains as one of the largest threats to the Ethiopian wolves.

A freshly painted fence and acting out a vaccination of a wolf pup © EWCP

A freshly painted fence and acting out a vaccination of a wolf pup © EWCP

2011’s Wolf Pups make their first appearance

After the canine distemper outbreak that swept through Bale’s wolf population last year, we were anxious that the surviving wolf packs would have a good breeding season this year, helping to boost numbers in the population. Our monitors have spent many weeks in the field visiting our focal packs, eagerly looking for signs of mating, pregnancy, and birth, and were rewarded in November with the first sightings of a new batch of wolf puppies from four packs in the Web Valley. These pups are starting to wean now, with the adults all helping to bring them rodent food, so they can learn to eat solids. The Sanetti wolves always breed a little later than the Web packs, and we are happy to report the emergence of the first set of tiny pups from the BBC pack – four little black bundles, not all that steady on their feet yet, that we hope will grow into strong healthy adults, contributing to the Sanetti population.

Ethiopian wolf pups © Will Burrard Lucas

Ethiopian wolf pups © Will Burrard Lucas

Dinsho School says a big, traditional Thank You!

EWCP has a long-standing and very positive relationship with the Dinsho School, where we carry out regular education activities, which include supporting the school’s long-running nature club. And through Born Free’s Global Friends Initiative, EWCP has helped the school in the past to build new classrooms and buy textbooks and stationery.

Recently, Born Free’s founder and trustee, Virginia McKenna, travelled to the Bale Mountains and amongst her many activities took the time to pay a visit the Dinsho School, where the children welcomed her with songs and dances. Born Free then pledged funds to help the school with their tree nursery, as well as buying much-needed desks and books. Over the past few months EWCP has helped the school to buy the textbooks and fencing material for the nursery, and also ordered over 60 desks to be made by a local carpenters’ group, thereby benefitting both the carpenters and the school!

New books for Dinsho School © EWCP

New books for Dinsho School © EWCP

To thank Born Free and EWCP for their generosity, the school held a fantastic celebration of traditional Oromo dancing, singing and dramatic productions, all dealing with conservation issues and saving the Ethiopian wolf.  EWCP will continue to work closely with the school pupils, to foster an appreciation of their natural environment and a desire to make a positive change.

Traditional Oromo dancing © EWCP

Traditional Oromo dancing © EWCP

Safe future for four rescued lions in Ethiopia!

Following the amazing response of Born Free Foundation supporters to our appeal about four magnificent, male lions in need in Ethiopia, a team from Born Free, alongside colleagues from the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA), successfully relocated the lions to Ensessakotteh, Ethiopia’s first wildlife rescue, conservation and education centre. 

In two separate operations, the specialist rescue team moved two adult male lions from the Presidential Palace in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, and a further two males from a military base in Harar in Eastern Ethiopia. 

Virginia McKenna OBE, Founder Trustee of the Born Free Foundation, travelled to Ethiopia and, speaking following a meeting with His Excellency, President Girma Wolde Giorgis in Addis Ababa, said, “It is wonderful to see these majestic lions relocated to Ensessakotteh where they will be able to live out their lives in spacious natural ranges.  Our sincere thanks must go to His Excellency, President Girma whose support has enabled us to be here to witness these magnificent lions take their first steps on grass.”

On Tuesday 1st November, lions Andrea and Janu, were moved to their new home.  Originally rescued in 2006 and cared for at the Italian Embassy by Deputy Head of Mission, Marco Tornetta and his wife Chantal, these lions were given temporary refuge at the Presidential Palace in Addis Ababa while Ensessakotteh was being constructed.  Their move went smoothly under the care and attention of Veterinary Consultants, John Knight and Rea Tschopp, and other representatives from Born Free.

Italian lions at Ensessakotteh © George Logan/Felicity Crawshaw

Italian lions at Ensessakotteh © George Logan/Felicity Crawshaw

Italian lions at Ensessakotteh © George Logan/Felicity Crawshaw

Italian lions at Ensessakotteh © George Logan/Felicity Crawshaw

Italian lions at Ensessakotteh © George Logan/Felicity Crawshaw

Italian lions at Ensessakotteh © George Logan/Felicity Crawshaw

The team regrouped in Addis Ababa before making the long journey to Harar where Major and General lived near an Army Parade ground.  Here, with the full support and assistance of the Ministry of National Defence, South-Eastern Command, the male lions were darted and made ready for their 16 hour journey to Ensessakotteh.  Originally found abandoned as cubs in the wild by a group of soldiers, Major and General had been kept at the army base for 13 years.

Major and General before rescue © George Logan / Felicity Crawshaw

Major and General before rescue © George Logan / Felicity Crawshaw

Major and General being rescued © George Logan / Felicity Crawshaw

Major and General being rescued © George Logan / Felicity Crawshaw

Arriving at Ensessakotteh, Born Free Ethiopia’s Project Director, Stephen Brend said, “Two huge black-maned adult lions, the army could no longer manage them.  They requested EWCA’s help in rehoming them and EWCA subsequently asked Born Free to assist.  It took over three months to build a spacious and secure home for them and I am delighted we were able to complete the work on time to give them a wonderful early Christmas present.”

Major and General at Ensessakotteh © George Logan / Felicity Crawshaw

Major and General at Ensessakotteh © George Logan / Felicity Crawshaw

Yeneneh Teka, Director of Wildlife Development and Protection Directorate at EWCA, expressed his heartfelt appreciation for all the team members who participated in the successful relocation of these four lions, “I would particularly like to thank Born Free Foundation for their concerned commitment to helping Ethiopia in its endeavours to fight illegal trafficking of live wild animals including lion and cheetah cubs. I would further like to offer my sincere gratitude to the Ministry of National Defense, South-Eastern Command, for co-operating in this relocation operation right from the beginning in May 2011.”

Summing up the challenging four days, Senior Vet Consultant John Knight said “Both moves have gone incredibly well, with everyone in the team playing their part, resulting in a smooth transfer of both sets of animals.  A clinical examination shows they are all very healthy and in good physical condition, despite their unfortunate starts in life.  They should do well in their new home.”

Major and General and Andrea and Janu have joined two other rescued lions, Dolo and Safia, and six rescued cheetah at Ensessakotteh.  With public support from people all over the world, Born Free has committed to caring for these animals for the rest of their lives.

Born Free Foundation is so pleased to have been able to provide these two sets of brothers with the care and space they need.  However, funds are still urgently needed to help care for and feed these magnificent lions for the rest of their lives.  If you would like to contribute to Ensessakotteh and the animals Born Free cares for, you can make a donation here >

Or show you care this Christmas by buying a practical present, one of Born Free’s “Gifts in Kind” or adopt Dolo, the first rescued lion to be brought to Ensessakotteh.

Help rescue four lions in Ethiopia

We urgently need your help to stop deprivation and suffering, and a life of misery for two pairs of lions.  Below is the story of two of the lions.

MILITARY LIONS:
Three abandoned lion cubs were found by a group of soldiers in the Bale Region of Ethiopia. We don’t know what happened to their parents, but the soldiers captured the cubs. Tragically, on the drive back to the army base, one of cubs, the only female, leapt out of the moving vehicle and was killed. The two remaining brothers survived the journey and were put in a cage near the Battalion’s parade ground. They have lived in that cage ever since.

Military lions - May 2011 © BF Ethiopia

Military lions - May 2011 © BF Ethiopia

Now the army have asked us to help them and we want to rescue the lions without delay. First they would need a full health check by Born Free’s Senior Veterinary Consultant and big cat rescue expert John Knight. We would then have to construct special travel crates, one per lion.

Major and General would need to be darted with a tranquilizer, carefully placed in the crates, loaded into a lorry and driven for 16 hours to our Rescue Centre. John and the Born Free team would keep a careful eye on their progress at all times. Their welfare would be our priority throughout the long journey. At Ensessakotteh the brothers would be released into their large bush enclosure – a world away from their squalid cage. Here they would receive expert care for the rest of their lives.

Alongside Major and General are two other large, male lions, the “Italian lions” who need to be relocated to Ensessakotteh and be given the care they deserve.

For the full story and more images of Major and General and the “Italian” lions and to help Born Free Foundation rescue them, please click here.

Wildlife trade – the real threat

Stephen Brend, Project Director of Born Free Ethiopia, comments on wildlife trade issues:

The thinking behind establishing Ensessakotteh, our Wildlife Rescue, Conservation and Education Centre in Ethiopia, was not just to save animals from being kept, often illegally, in appalling conditions. If we are to be truly successful, in addition to saving the individual animals, we also need to stop wildlife trafficking full stop. Recent news suggests we have our work more than cut out for us.

UN forces in Somalia confiscated two lion cubs that were already on a ship leaving the country. Born Free Foundation was prepared to help with their rescue and relocation, but the UN handled the situation and the lions were moved to South Africa. Unfortunately, Somalia is so lawless we have no real idea how many animals pass through there.

We do know, however, there is a huge demand for cheetah cubs in the Middle East. At least 20 have been smuggled from Ethiopia this year – and these are the ones we are aware of. There is no way the already-small wild population can withstand losses like that, so the situation is critical.

We are continuing to work with the Wildlife Conservation Authority in Ethiopia to try to increase the effectiveness of law enforcement both within the country and at border points. As the rescue of the four little cheetahs in January shows, the system can work. We just need it to work more often.

Orphaned Cheetahs © BFF / Stephen Brend

Orphaned Cheetahs © BFF / Stephen Brend

Born Free Ethiopia is currently raising funds to rescue four more large, male lions and bring them to Ensessakotteh – find out more and help here.

The tortoises at Ensessakotteh

Stephen Brend reports on one of our less needy rescued animals at Ensessakotteh, the tortoises!

To be honest we do not need to look after the leopard tortoises as such, they take care of the grass and we leave them alone.  The relationship seems to work well.

Tortoises come to us from a variety of places – schools, Government compounds, housing estates and churches – the one thing they all share is proximity to roads.  While an adult tortoise shell is a massive strong thing, they are no match for a truck’s tyre.  The city is no place for them, so we take them in.

Tortoises © BF Ethiopia

Tortoises © BF Ethiopia

When work first started at Ensessakotteh the tortoises were put in the ‘secure area’ the fenced off part of the site that accommodates the office, and kitchen and sleeping tents.  There are eight tortoises there now, which is enough.  These days if a tortoise comes in, as happened in March when Alison Hood our Programmes Director was out, we turn it loose on site.  Sometimes we see them again, but not often.  However, I am sure they are out there.  Their shell may not be able to withstand a vehicle but should be enough to stop hyenas and other predators.  That is the reason, after all, for why they have it.

Into the lion’s den

Stephen Brend, Project Director at Ensessakotteh, introduces the baboons that Born Free Ethiopia has in its care:

The Animals in Our Care – Baboons

I never had much confidence in temporary enclosure that used to be Safia’s home. It was built for her when she first arrived as a small cub and was never intended to house her for as long as it did. Indeed, I spent much of my first six months here (as Safia developed into a feisty and strong young lioness) wondering whether I should go around to see her, or if she’d let herself out and come round to see me! Thankfully she stayed put until her permanent accommodation was ready – the 2000m2 range she now shares with Dolo. The other good news is that her old enclosure, while not suitable for a 2 year old lioness, is excellent for baboons!

Baboon Enclosure 23 Aug 11 © BF Ethiopia

Baboon Enclosure 23 Aug 11 © BF Ethiopia

We have four in our care:

Kasanchis: (pictured below) who came to us last December seems to be a hybrid between an olive baboon and ahamadryas baboon (such hybrids do occur naturally). He is very smart and playful and he simply loves Corolla.

Kasanchis Mar 2011 © BF Ethiopia

Kasanchis Mar 2011 © BF Ethiopia

Corolla is our only female. Aged between two and three she keeps the two youngsters in check, though all three sleep huddled together.

Kore is so named because he came from the Korean Hospital, where one of the staff was keeping him illegally as a pet. Kore is fierce. He wants to do nothing more than take my fingers off. Even if Safia was still in the enclosure, I wonder if it wouldn’t be Kore who was doing the attacking…

Finally there is Sadamo, who came from the neighbouring village. Apparently he had been caught crop raiding. One of our staff told the man keeping him to give him up or he would go to the police. Very quickly, Sadamo was on site!

We are not sure what the future holds for them. We would like to release them as a group into one of the national parks. Certainly, they are nicely bonded and are all fit and healthy. On most days, Kore and Kasanchis spend so much time playing tag they probably end up running the equivalent of a half-marathon.

The baboons are cared for by our two “young animal carers”, Meseret and Sinke. Meseret comes from Sadamo and is in her late twenties. She has children of her own and so is something of a natural (if strict!) mother to the primates. Sinke comes from Holeta, the nearby ‘big town’. She is only 21 and this is her first proper job. Despite huge reservations from her friends and family (“You work with monkeys?!”) she has fitted in perfectly.

Make a donation to Ensessakotteh here.