My name is Zegeye Kibret. I grew up in Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains, in a small village called Dinsho, approximately 400 km south east of the capital, Addis Ababa. Dinsho is right on the border of the Bale Mountains National Park, and is very close to Ethiopian wolf range.
Growing up, I was actively involved in the nature club in my school, which was visited by a young researcher called Claudio Sillero, who taught us about the Ethiopian wolves and about protecting our natural heritage. He later founded the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP) for which I now work.
After finishing my schooling I studied to be a primary school teacher, and once I qualified I moved to a neighbouring village called Garamba Dima, to teach in the local school. One day Dr. Karen Laurenson, the EWCP vet, came to the village to introduce a dog vaccination programme to combat rabies in the area and I had a chance to talk to her about the programme. I rushed to the school compound and persuaded the kids to bring their dogs to be vaccinated, which would help to prevent rabies spreading to the Ethiopian wolf.
In 1998 I decided that I wanted to combine my teaching background with my love of nature, and successfully applied for a job at EWCP. Since then I have been running the EWCP education campaign in and around the Bale Mountains National Park, talking to the local community and school children about the importance of protecting the afroalpine environment and making them proud of the endemic Ethiopian wolf. I became even more enthusiastic about wildlife conservation as my career progressed because I saw that the benefit of wildlife conservation is also a community benefit, creating a better, healthier, and more sustainable environment for all.