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Individual study: Trapping and vaccination of Ethiopian wolves Canis simensis to control an outbreak of rabies, Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

Published source details

Knobel D.L., Fooks A.R., Brookes S.M., Randall D.A., Williams S.D., Argaw K., Shiferaw F., Tallents L.A. & Laurenson M.K. (2008) Trapping and vaccination of endangered Ethiopian wolves to control an outbreak of rabies. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45, 109-116


A vaccination programme was undertaken in an attempt to control an outbreak of rabies in Ethiopian wolves Canis simensis in the Bale Mountains National Park. Rabies was diagnosed on 28 October 2003 from wolves found dead in the Web Valley area of the park since August. Prior to the outbreak, the park supported at least 300-350 individuals of the global population of around 500 wolves.

Ethiopian wolf live-trapping (using rubber-lined ‘Soft Catch’ leg-hold traps) and vaccination commenced on 13 November 2003 and continued to14 January 2004. The aim was to contain the virus to the Web Valley and to protect wolf packs in other areas of the park. Wolves on the periphery of the outbreak area were trapped and injected with rabies vaccine.

Follow-up trapping (March-November 2004) was conducted to assess the magnitude and duration of antibody response. Additional monitoring was undertaken to evaluate the vaccination campaign success.

Vaccination success: The intervention was successful in halting the spread of the rabies outbreak, the last known rabies case was found in the Web Valley on 30 January 2004.

A total of 84 wolves were captured (in over 5,200 trapping hours): 69 were vaccinated between November 2003 and February 2004; a further eight during the follow-up recapture phase; seven were sampled from the Web Valley. All wolves tested 1 month after vaccination had protective levels of serum antibody titres (note: a titre is a measure of concentration). A booster administered within 1-6 months appeared necessary to maintain protective levels.

Trapping impact on wolves: Two trapping events resulted in wolf injury: one wolf fractured the right tibia and fibula when two wolves were caught togehter; one trap inflicted injury requiring amputation of a forefoot digit. After recovery, both individuals were released and were still alive one year later. All but three captured wolves were alive 6 months after capture, a rate consistent with natural mortality.

Trapping impact on non-target species: Eight eagles Aquila spp., were caught in traps but released without injury; one Starck’s hare Lepus starcki was killed; six domestic dogs were vaccinated and released unharmed.

Note: The compilation and addition of this summary was funded by the Journal of Applied Ecology (BES). If using or referring to this published study, please read and quote the original paper, this can be viewed at: