Very Strange Canid in Bale Mountains Ethiopia (RFI)

Very Strange Canid in Bale Mountains Ethiopia (RFI)

While in the Bale Mountains (Harenna Forest to be exact), we came across this very different Canid. Initially we ID’d it as Canis aureus but clearly it is not. Perhaps a hybrid? I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on what it might be.


  • Vladimir Dinets

    Chest pattern is typical for C. simensis, which is very common on the plateau above Harenna Forest. But the body coloration and proportions seem a bit off, and I’ve never heard of them descending into the forest. Considering that there are six (!) species of Canis in the Bale Mountains, a hybrid is possible… but I don’t think you can get a definitive answer from the photo.

  • Bob Berghaier

    Could this be a photo of the African wolf that we have been hearing about.

  • Steven Olson

    snout and ears appear less pointed than either common jackal or Ethiopian wolf. Neck appears longer.

  • Steven Olson

    Perhaps the offspring of a female common jackal and a local dog? Is that possible?

  • Claudio Sillero

    Definitely a jackal, but whether it is the same Canis aureus we have in the northern slopes and main massif of BMNP is difficult to say. We have recently described a rather cryptic “African” wolf (from Arsi and North Ethiopia material), which can’t be easily distinguished from Canis aureus, and this might just be it.

    The head looks uncanningly just like Canis adustus (side-stripped jackal) which is found at lower altitude further south, although the side stripe is not noticeable. I do not think this is a hybrid.

    Do we have a precise location, with altitude?

    Claudio Sillero
    IUCN Canid Specialist Group

  • Coke Smith

    We came across this individual a bit past the ranger station heading down from Rira village at the beginning the Harenna forest, bamboo-Bale Monkey habitat. The photographs were taken in a cleared field as the animal was heading across the road. He paused and gave us a very good look before heading to the east. Try these coordinates: 6.755519,39.72182 I am not sure of the elevation but it was just a bit lower than Rira. I don’t think it would be too hard to find out the elevation but I don’t know. I will post some images in a followup post.

  • Coke Smith

    OK – here are all of the images of the mystery jackal that I was able to get. Perhaps they may be more informative. I did put some images of C. aureus that I took in the Simiens for comparison – everything is clearly labeled. I would LOVE to hear more! Thanks for taking the time.

  • Frank Vincent

    it is definately more like a side -striped jackal
    Frank Vincent
    The Wild Dog Foundation

    • Jean-Marc Lernould

      Hi Claudio and Frank,

      I agree with you that this canid photographed near Rira is probably a side-striped jackal, confirmed by the other pictures sent by Coke Smith.
      I have seen pictures of such a canid, a road kill, near Jimma.

      However : Neumann described Canis kaffensis in 1902 as differing from side-striped jackal. He mentions two specimens sent from Addis Ababa living in Frankfurt zoo which did not exhibit side stripes permanently, suspecting this to be related to age or season.
      Perhaps this canid on the pictures of Coke Smith corresponds to C. kaffensi. And it might be a species different of C. adustus.

  • Frank Vincent

    The African wolf, looks more like a smaller version of North America’s ancient Red wolf , at least in the northern part of its range, the desert version of African wolves does look more like Arabian wolves, I’m convinced that this is a side-striped jackal,of which are cryptic and rarely seen, so they appear unfamiliar, great photo
    Frank Vincent
    Wild Dog Foundation

  • Karen Laurenson

    This is a great photo. I think I have also seen this canid near Dinsho in Bale (years ago and i wondered if a hybrid too) and also here in Addis Ababa in the last month. Its probably the ‘African wolf’ but it does have head charatcteristics of a side stripe jackal its true. Convergent evolution? I’ll try and get some photos and scats from Addis and connect with Anagaw to do the genetics
    Karen Laurenson, FZS,

  • Charles Foley

    I would agree with the Side striped jackal verdict. At first glance its certainly not what springs to mind, but I checked it against our photo database for Tanzania and both the body proportions and patterning on the throat, chest and sides match for this species. It is a very peculiar colour though.
    Charles Foley

  • Frank Vincent

    it could just be a northern color variant of the side-striped from higher elevations and a much wetter environment

  • Stephanie Little Wolf

    That is a 100% Side stripped Jackal

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