The sight of a canine trotting down a hillside towards us had me yelling with excitement. But it wasn't a wolf; as it came closer, I realised - to my chagrin - that it was just a rusty-coloured mongrel. I was scanning the landscape from a Land Cruiserbumping and skidding over a muddy, potholed road in the foothills of the Bale Mountains National Park, some 400km south of Addis Ababa. I'd already cried wolf once before, some five minutes earlier, precipitating a mad scramble for binoculars and cameras from my fellow passengers, so this time they were prepared for the anticlimax. But you couldn't blame me for being excited about travelling through the Bale Mountains, a rugged upland covering 2,200km~2 and home to about 300 Ethiopian wolves - the largest single surviving population of this endangered canid.