Dec 16
Ethiopian wolf image

Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis)

Species: Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting fact: The Ethiopian wolf is the only species of wolf in Africa.

Similar to a coyote in appearance, the Ethiopian wolf is a long-legged species with a long, pointed muzzle. It lives in the mountains of Ethiopia where it forms close-knit territorial packs numbering between 3 and 13 adults. Individual pack members tend to forage alone, hunting for small mammals such as the big-headed mole rat. They skilfully stalk their prey before pouncing or digging them out of their burrows. All the adults gather to patrol and mark the territory at dawn and dusk, and rest together during the night, usually curled up in the open. Male wolves seldom disperse, whereas many females leave their natal pack at maturity to seek a breeding opportunity elsewhere.

The Ethiopian wolf has been reduced to a handful of mountain ranges due to pressures on the habitat, particularly conversion to agriculture. Rabies and distemper transmitted from domestic dogs further threatens the survival of this species. The Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP) is working to conserve this species, with conservation efforts so far including a vaccination programme to protect the Ethiopian wolf from rabies.

Find out more about the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme.

View images and footage of the Ethiopian wolf on ARKive.

Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author

Dec 15

The decline of traditional cultural taboos in Madagascar is leading to unsustainable hunting of lemurs for bushmeat, according to a new study.

Photo of indri in rainforest canopy

The largest of the lemurs, the Endangered indri is a strictly protected species in Madagascar

Published in the journal PLoS One, the study looked at the eating habits of local people in eastern Madagascar. It found that illegal hunting of protected species was increasing, probably as a result of rapid social changes and an increased demand for meat.

Decline in traditional taboos

Taboos play an important role in traditional Malagasy culture, with lemurs in particular associated with strong taboos that have previously protected them from hunting. For example, many local people revere these unique primates, believing them to be family ancestors.

However, an influx of outside views appears to be eroding these traditional beliefs. As well as this, many people are moving into the remote areas around the country’s eastern rainforests to work at illegal gold mines, which is leading to an increase in the demand for meat.

Photo of brown lemur on a tree trunk

The brown lemur, listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN

Lack of alternatives

The study found that in the households surveyed, just over 10% of meals contained meat from wild-caught animals. Although only a tiny proportion of meat came from protected species, 95% of people admitted that they had eaten a protected species in the past.

However, the study also found that people preferred not to eat bushmeat, only hunting wild animals because of a lack of alternative meat sources.

If they want meat to eat, there is very poor availability of domestic meat in these rural areas,” said Dr Julia Jones, one of the authors of the study. “Chickens suffer terribly from disease in rainforest areas, so do not survive that well – so there is not much protein from domestic animals around.”

Photo of common tenrec which has been hunted for food

Common tenrec, another wild species hunted for food in Madagascar

Major concern for lemur conservation

Although it is illegal to hunt lemurs, species recorded as bushmeat during the study included the Critically Endangered black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata), as well as the Endangered indri (Indri indri) and diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema).

The level of hunting observed by the team is of major concern for the conservation of these and other highly threatened species.

According to Dr Jones, “Even if things are being eaten very rarely, if they are very slow-reproducing animals that can be having a huge impact. Species like the indri, for example, mature at seven to nine years and then only have one young once every two or three years.”

Providing a solution

If Madagascar’s lemurs are to survive, urgent action will be needed to reduce the demand for bushmeat. Although improved enforcement of existing wildlife laws can play a role, it will also be important to find sustainable alternatives to wild-caught meat.

Photo of two eastern lesser bamboo lemurs

Eastern lesser bamboo lemurs, another species which is strictly protected in Madagascar

One solution would be to improve the availability of meat from domestic animals, such as chickens. However, this would need to be supported by projects that help ensure poultry and livestock do not get wiped out by disease.

As Madagascar’s wildlife provides an important source of income through tourism, protecting its unique species will also be an important national issue.

If the indri and other lemurs disappear from the forests then you are going to get fewer tourists and much less international interest,” said Dr Jones. “It would be a really positive step and would be worth some investment from the government, given the importance of wildlife to Madagascar’s economy.”

Read more on this story at BBC News – Eroding taboos see lemurs end up on dinner tables.

Find out more about conservation in Madagascar at Madagasikara Voakajy.

View photos and videos of lemurs on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Species Text Author

Dec 15
More amazing photos, videos and texts are added to ARKive every alternate week. Here is a summary of our latest update:
The stats
  • 35         new species
  • 29         new movies
  • 309       new images
  • 48         new texts

What’s new – our favourite new species

Eryngium viviparum photo

A Most Wanted species, the Endangered Eryngium viviparum

What’s new – our favourite new image

Alaotran gentle lemur photo

We've added new images of the Alaotran gentle lemur

What’s new – our favourite new videos

Polar bear photo

We've added new footage of the polar bear on thin ice


Gardiner’s tree frog photo

We've also added great new footage of Gardiner’s tree frog, one of the smallest frogs in the world

Get involved!

If you have any photos, footage or species information that you think we should add into ARKive please let us know. There are many ways to get involved with ARKive, from contributing your photos to just spreading the word about us – every little helps!

Full details 

Subscribe to our RSS feeds for full details of what’s new to ARKive.

Dec 15

Some of our animal-adoring ARKive team had a whale of a time while choosing their favourite species, whereas for others, the cat simply had their tongue. Last time Rebecca Moran shared her admiration for the awe-inspiring manta ray which super special species will come out on top this week?

Elisabeth Shaw – ARKive Species Text Author

Favourite species? Scarlet macaw

Why? I have always had a love of birds, and parrots are a particular favourite. For me, the vivid colours and loud calls of the scarlet macaw are an irreplaceable part of the rainforest. I have been lucky enough to study these intelligent birds as they gather with other parrots and macaws at ‘clay licks’ in the forest – a wildlife spectacle never to be forgotten!

Favourite image on ARKive?

Photo of a scarlet macaw

Scarlet macaw preening

The scarlet macaw (Ara macao) is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List. Although common throughout its range, this species is threatened by habitat loss, hunting for food and feathers and capture for the pet trade.

See more photos and videos of the scarlet macaw.

Dec 14

The Pedal-Powered Cinema Project – the world’s first pedal-powered field cinema – has been piloted by the Great Apes Film Initiative (GAFI) during a tour of the Virunga Volcano region in southern Uganda.

Photo of female mountain gorilla

Initially launched in November 2010, the Pedal-Powered Cinema Project is an innovative conservation initiative which screens films to teach people about the plight of gorillas and their natural habitat, raising awareness and promoting the need for conservation of this endangered species.

The project is an affordable, sustainable and eco-friendly way of bringing films for gorilla conservation to even the smallest and most rural of villages in Uganda.

Simple technology to provide sustainable solutions

The Pedal-Powered Cinema Project was developed by GAFI, in partnership with the Gorilla Organisation, and was built in collaboration with Electric Pedals.

The technology is simple, comprising two children’s mountain bikes and a single guitar amp to provide the sound. The back wheels of the stationary bikes are fed into a generator, which then powers the projector and sound system.

Photo of mountain gorilla being filmed in the wild

Mountain gorilla being filmed in the wild

12 months on…

A year later, the project continues to reach remote communities, bringing conservation education to villages with no electricity. For many people living in these otherwise isolated villages, the Pedal-Powered Cinema Project provides the opportunity to gather together and watch a film, often for the first time.

In the 12 months since its launch, the Pedal-Powered Cinema Project roadshows have given around 43,000 children, as well as thousands of adults, the chance to attend a screening.

The awareness that these film screenings raise is a vital step in connecting the local communities with gorilla conservation issues.

Pedalling forward to the future

According to Madeleine Westwood, founder and director of GAFI, the simple technology used by the Pedal-Powered Cinema Project has the potential to transform conservation outreach, as well as many other initiatives that use film as an educational tool.

As a result of the resounding success of GAFI roadshows in Uganda, another conservation charity, Gearing up for Gorillas, have recently invested in a new Pedal-Powered Cinema which will be used mainly in Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Photo of mountain gorilla infant

Wildscreen Outreach

Although Wildscreen, the charity behind ARKive, has yet to harness pedal-power to promote its message, it does have its own initiative to take wildlife film screenings and workshops to countries around the world.

Wildscreen Outreach is a touring programme of award-winning film screenings and masterclasses which aim to reach, engage and inspire new audiences – especially in developing countries, where pressure on the environment is most critical.

Find out more about the gorilla on ARKive.

Find out more about the Great Apes Film Initiative and the Pedal-Powered Cinema Project.

Find out more about the gorilla conservation charity Gearing up 4 Gorillas.

Read the Guardian blog article by writer David Hewitt, communications manager at the Gorilla Organization.

Helen Roddis, ARKive Species Text Author


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