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Data from: Foraging ecology of African wolves (Canis lupaster) and its implications for the conservation of Ethiopian wolves (Canis simensis)

Citation

Gutema, Tariku M. et al. (2019), Data from: Foraging ecology of African wolves (Canis lupaster) and its implications for the conservation of Ethiopian wolves (Canis simensis), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.p9g41sd

Abstract

African wolves (AWs) are sympatric with endangered Ethiopian wolves (EWs) in parts of their range. Scat analysis have suggested dietary overlap between AWs and EWs, raising the potential for exploitative competition, and a possible conservation threat to EWs. However, in contrast to the well-studied EW, the foraging ecology of AWs remains poorly characterized. Accordingly, we studied the foraging ecology of radio-collared AWs (n = 11 individuals) at two localities with varying levels of anthropogenic disturbance in the Ethiopian Highlands, the Guassa-Menz Community Conservation Area (GMCCA) and Borena-Saynt National Park (BSNP), accumulating 845h of focal observation across 2,856 feeding events. We also monitored rodent abundance and rodent trapping activity by local farmers who experience conflict with AWs. The AW diet consisted largely of rodents (22.0%), insects (24.8%), and goats and sheep (24.3%). The overall foraging success on live rodents (proportion of successful foraging attempts) by AWs was 20.7% was higher in the farmlands (36%) than in other habitat types (<17%). Of the total rodents captured by farmers using local traps during peak barley production (July to November) in GMCCA, totaling 24 rodents per hectare per day, 80% were scavenged by AWs. Of all rodents consumed by AWs, most (74%) were carcasses. These results reveal complex interactions between AWs and local farmers and highlight the scavenging niche occupied by AWs in anthropogenically altered in contrast to the active hunting exhibited by EWs in more intact habitats. While AWs cause economic damage to local farmers through livestock predation, they appear to play an important role in scavenging pest rodents among farmlands, a pattern of behaviour which likely mitigates direct and indirect competition with EWs. We suggest two routes to promote the co-existence of AWs and EWs in the Ethiopian highlands: local education efforts highlighting the complex role AWs play in highland ecosystems to reduce their persecution, and enforced protection of intact habitats to preserve habitat preferred by EWs.

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