Research has been undertaken on the abundance and diet of the endemic Starck’s hare (Lepus starki), a secondary prey species for the Ethiopian wolf. Data were collected in three areas of the BMNP: Central Sanetti, Tullu Deemtu and the Web Valley. Hare abundance was estimated using Distance sampling (line transects) and diet was assessed by direct observations of hares and by faecal analysis. Density estimates from the wet season were higher than those from the dry season and population densities were higher on Sanetti than in the Web Valley. The highest density recorded was 25.4 hares/km2 in Central Sanetti in the wet season and the lowest density recorded was 8.51 hares/km2 in the Web Valley in the dry season. The densities reported here are similar to those estimated previously although there may have been a decline in numbers in the Web Valley. Diet fragments identified under the microscope were classified as monocot or dicot. For the wet season data, all fragments identified were monocots. In the dry season 12% or the fragments were dicots despite the fact that the overall abundance of dicots shrank considerably in the dry season. Direct observation confirmed that Starck’s hare is almost exclusively a monocot grazer, but sometimes forages on dicots in the dry season.
This research was undertaken by Tariku Mekonnen towards his MSc at the University of Addis Ababa under the auspices of the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme.