Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Canine distemper in endangered Ethiopian wolves.

Abstract

The Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) is the world's rarest canid; ∼500 wolves remain. The largest population is found within the Bale Mountains National Park (BMNP) in southeastern Ethiopia, where conservation efforts have demonstrated the negative effect of rabies virus on wolf populations. We describe previously unreported infections with canine distemper virus (CDV) among these wolves during 2005-2006 and 2010. Death rates ranged from 43% to 68% in affected subpopulations and were higher for subadult than adult wolves (83%-87% vs. 34%-39%). The 2010 CDV outbreak started 20 months after a rabies outbreak, before the population had fully recovered, and led to the eradication of several focal packs in BMNP's Web Valley. The combined effect of rabies and CDV increases the chance of pack extinction, exacerbating the typically slow recovery of wolf populations, and represents a key extinction threat to populations of this highly endangered carnivore.