In the very early morning hours, at EWCP Headquarters, at the heart of Dinsho Hill in Bale Mountains National Park, among the multitude of bird songs and the soft rustling of the junipers, there was the smell of freshly-made coffee and a tinge of a French accent…
A warm smile, always calm and composed, or even quite taciturn, Eric Bedin, EWCP’s field director for nearly 10 years, is not a man of many words… but if you get to know him, you quickly understand that he is driven by his extraordinary dedication to the cause, committed to preventing the extinction of the rare Ethiopian wolves. Originally from Tarbes in France’s Hautes-Pyrénées, Eric took up his Oxford University position with WildCRU in January 2014, and soon moved to Ethiopia. He brought his expertise in fieldwork and research after working in the Iberian peninsula, then in Saudi Arabia on the reintroduction of the Arabian oryx, and in Mozambique’s Gilé National Reserve. Since joining EWCP, Eric has been relentlessly working to protect fragile Ethiopian wolf populations across Ethiopia, coordinating the work of the monitoring team, the vet team and overseeing community projects with communities and local government. But Eric’s heart is definitely close to the destiny of each and every wolf he has encountered over the years. He has witnessed so many wolves die of rabies and canine distemper virus, small wolf populations go extinct locally, areas of wild prime wolf habitats being turned into crop fields… He led emergency wolf vaccinations during severe rabies epidemics, capturing and vaccinating wolves day and night without any rest. And when not in emergency mode, he coordinated domestic dog vaccination campaigns, trialled oral vaccines that would help protect the wolves, and helped start biodiversity-friendly projects aiming to prevent and restore wolf habitats.
And Eric’s photographic memory of his field observations is essential to us. He has seen packs grow and split to make new packs, young wolves dispersing and recolonising lost areas, welcomed many new wolf monitors and new staff members embarking on their journey with EWCP… His understanding of the many challenges, of the local communities, of the people comes from a keen sense of observation and a high capacity to buffer tensions and sometimes diverging opinions, which are all so common in conservation.
For some time, Eric has been pondering about his next challenge, and we kind of expect visiting with him one day, in another remote corner of Africa. EWCP staff put together a big party for him at our headquarters. There were a few emotional speeches, but its was a joyful event to celebrate his decade living in Dinsho and keeping everyone motivated and working hard. Among EWCP staff members, Eric was seen as a mentor, a father figure, a wise man, a dear friend who will be missed greatly. There is too much to thank Eric for, but above all, thank you Eric for having contributed with your calm yet persistent manner to the future of Ethiopian wolves. Surely, many of the wolves roaming in the Highlands now owe you and the team their survival and the lives of their descendants.