Nature (6)

Friday, 21 December 2012 01:27


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Lakes in Ethiopia

Lake Tana 

Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia with many beautiful Island MONASTERIES. /Churches. Whose numbers vary depending on the level of the lake; it has fallen about 6 feet (1.8 m) in the last 400 years According to Manoel de Almeida (a Portuguese missionary in the early 17th century),

Remains of ancient Ethiopian emperors and treasures of the Ethiopian Church are kept in the isolated island monasteries  such as ;  Kebran Gabriel, Ura Kidane Mehret, Narga Selassie, Daga Estifanos, Medhane Alem of Rema, Kota Maryam and Mertola Maryam). On the island of Tana Qirqos is a rock shown to Paul B. Henze, on which he was told the Virgin Mary had rested on her journey back from Egypt; he was also told that Frumentius, who introduced Christianity to Ethiopia, is "allegedly buried on Tana Cherqos."[3] The body of Yekuno Amlak is interred in the monastery of St. Stephen on Daga Island; other Emperors whose tombs are on Daga include Dawit I, Zara Yaqob, Za Dengel and Fasilides. Other important islands in Lake Tana include Dek, Mitraha, Gelila Zakarias, Halimun, and Briguida.

Lake Hawassa / Awassa

At about 275 km from Addis Ababa a gravel road on the right runs along the shore of Lake Awasa to the two or three resort hotels. The luxury Awasa Hotel, is the most comfortable. Simpler accommodation at the Bekele Mola Hotel, and the more interesting Belle Vue du Lac (also with swimming pool and a tennis court) is quite adequate. Fishing and boating are favourite pastimes on Lake Awasa, although again the bird watching, if not as spectacular as Abyata, has its own special attractions.

Chamo And Abaya Lakes

Far south in Ethiopia's Great Rift Valley lie two marvellous lakes ringed by savanna plains and smoke; mountain crests. By far the largest of Ethiopia's Rift Valley lakes, the 551-square-kilometre waters of Chamo and the 1,160-square-kilometre surface of Abaya are considered by many to be also the most beautiful. Indeed, few places on earth can match the allure of their setting.
Much of this forms part of one of Ethiopia's finest national parks, Nech Sar, established as a sanctuary for the rare Swayne's hartebeest. From the town of Arba Minch on the ridge of land that divides Abaya and Chamo there are commanding views of the panorama all around including both lakes with Nech Sar on the eastern side and, to the west, the Guge range of mountains. Such is the outstanding beauty of this viewpoint it has long been known as the Bridge of Heaven. Equally poetic, Arba Minch -meaning Forty Springs in Amharic -takes its name from the bubbling streams which spring up amid the undergrowth .of the luxuriant forest which clothes the steep slopes beneath the town.

This region, more than 500 kilometres south of Addis Ababa, is one of Ethiopia's last great surviving wildernesses. But an international hotel at Arba Minch with high-quality service and facilities ensures the visitor enjoys the splendours of nature in comfort.

This is an ideal base from which to explore the forested land between the lakes, and the plains of Nech Sar beyond where the surviving herds of Swayne's hartebeest, once in abundance, and zebra and Grant's gazelle roam the high savanna.

There's an air of untamed grandeur about all this that lingers over the lakes and mountains. Alive with many species of fish -the fighting tigerfish, giant Nile perch, barbel, catfish and tilapia offering fine sport -

Chamo and Abaya are an angler's paradise. In the reed-fringed bays of Chamo's sparkling aquamarine waters hundreds of hippos emerge at night to graze on the grassy shores. Chamo is also sanctuary for several thousand Nile crocodile, some reaching lengths of up to seven metres from snout to tip of tail.
Here the balance between predator and prey remains in equilibrium; birdlife flourishes in equal proportion: hordes of yellow weaver birds flit constantly through the trees, and vividly-coloured kingfishers skim the lakes where Great White pelicans, storks; ibises, hornbills and cormorants plumb the waters for food. With piercing echoing cries, black, and white fish eagles swoop down from their tree perches to snatch up unwary fish in their talons.

People Around the Lakes
The shores and islands of Abaya and Chamo are populated by farming peoples such as the Ganjule and the Guji, both of whom also have ancient traditions of hippo hunting. The Guji ply the waters of lake Abaya in high-prowled am batch boats similar to those depicted on the tombs of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs.
South-west of the lakes in the direction of Jinka, the traveller comes to the homeland of the Konso who practice an intensive form of agriculture on intricately-terraced hillsides. The Konso have a rich indigenous culture that finds expression in haunting music and dance, and in the weaving of beautiful thick cotton blankets.

Another distinctive people of the region around Lakes Chamo and Abaya are the Dorze, once warriors, who have now turned to farming and weaving. They produce the colourful toga-like robes known as shammas which are worn throughout Ethiopia. Though there's a large Dorze population around Arba Minch itself, their traditional homeland is further to the north around Chencha, high up in the Guge mountain range overlooking the lakes and the Bridge of Heaven.

The brief, 26-kilometre drive from Arba Minch up to Chencha involves a remarkable transition – climbing from the lush, tropical forests of the lowland, through bamboo at around 2,500 metres, into stands of juniper laced with Spanish moss where cold fingers of cloud grasp the ancient limbs of the trees and the air is chill and bracing.

Dorze villages are classic example of simple architecture, unlike anything seen elsewhere in Ethiopia -towering beehive-shaped structures reaching up to 12 metres high, the interiors dark but spacious and airy with floors of pressed earth. The vaulted ceiling walls are covered with an elegant thatch of ensete (false banana) to form a smooth and unbroken convex dome. Each home stand in its own grounds surrounded by smaller but similar houses: guest house; cow-shed, kitchen and perhaps even a workshop for weaving or other work.

Northwards from Chencha, leaving Lake Abaya behind -and with it the wilderness -the traveller eventually comes to the bustling market town of Sodo, which stands on the border between the regions of Gamo Gofa, Sidamo and Kaffa. This is one of Ethiopia's premier coffee-growing areas and, quite possibly, the original home of the coffee plant –where, the first trees grew wild before being cultivated and then, in the

14th century, taken to Yemen and from there across the world.  

Lake Chamo

Lake Chamo northern end lies in the Nechisar National Park. According to figures published by the Central Statistical Agency, it is 32 kilometers long and 13 wide, with a surface area of 317 square kilometers and a maximum depth of 14 meters with a catchment of about 18757 square kilometers in size.[1] [2] Other sources locate it on an elevation of 1,235 meters with a length of 26 km a widths of 22 km an area of 551 square kilometers a chatchment of 2220 square kilometers and a maximum depth of 10 meters. The lake is fringed with beds of Typha, as well as wetlands. It is fed by the Kulfo River and several small streams, as well as overflow from Lake Abaya brought to it by the Ualo River. Oscar Neumann, exploring the area in 1901, found a dry channel connecting Lake Chamo to the Sagan River, which led him to conclude the lake contributes to the Sagan in years of heavy rainfall.

Wildlife includes fish like the catfish Bagrus docmac and Nile perch, as well as hippopotamus and Nile crocodiles.

Lake Langano

At the Horacallo bridge it is possible to turn left along a track which leads to the lake. There are good camping spots here along the northern shore however, the main track to the lake is at about 210 and 215 kms leading left to the Wabe Shebele and Bekele Mola Hotels, beach and camping ground respectively:

 The soft brown waters of Langano are set against the blue backdrop of the Arsi Mountains soaring4,000 metreshigh. A few birds make Langano their home but this resort is less for the nature lover than sportsman and sunworshipper. Here you can waterski and sail, swim or bask in the blazing sun on the sloping sandy beach. European food is served in the hotel restaurant but the tilapia is good and cooking freshly caught fish over the camp fire has its own special attraction. The local Oromo women are often prepared to sell jewellery or utensils; copper bracelets or brass; bead necklaces and cowrie shell decorated milk pots.

Lake Abyata

Before reaching the turnoff to Langano lake, the road passes over the Bulbula river. Just before the bridge and the village, there is a track to the right (at the top of the slope) which leads to the lake edge. At certain times of the year the greatest congregation of birds is to be found here. However, before the next bridge, over the Horacallo river (connecting Lakes Langano and Abyata) a turning to the right leads to the more usual area of exceptional bird viewing.

Thousands of flamingos create pink carpets in the blue bays of the lake; great white pelicans soar in from Lake Shala to enjoy the fishing and execute their fantastic ballet; pied kingfishers hover and dive; fish eagles protect their territory with their eerie cry; cormorants and darters fill the dead acacia trees silhouetting strange and beautiful shapes against the sunset. Here are tall marabous, sacred ibis, dwell sometimes in the hundreds of thousands, snipe, stilt, avocet, and the black heron searching the shallow water in the shadow created by his black umbrella.

Lake  Ziway

is one of the freshwater Rift Valley lakes of Ethiopia. It is located about 60 miles south of Addis Ababa, on the border between the Regions (or kililoch) of Oromia and of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples; the woredas holding the lake's shoreline are Adami Tullu and Jido Kombolcha, Dugda Bora, and Ziway Dugda. The town of Ziway lies on the lake's western shore. The lake is fed primarily by two rivers, the Meki from the west and the Katar from the east, and is drained by the Bulbar which empties into Lake Abijatta. The lake's catchment has an area of 7025 square kilometers.[1]

Lake Zway is 31 kilometers long and 20 km wide, with a surface area of 440 square kilometers. It has a maximum depth of 9 meters and is at an elevation of 1,636 meters.[2] [3] According to the Statistical Abstract of Ethiopia for 1967/68, Lake Zway is 25 kilometers long and 20 km wide, with a surface area of 434 square kilometers. It has a maximum depth of 4 meters and is at an elevation of 1,846 meters.[4] It has five islands which include Debre Sina, Galila, Bird Island and, perhaps most notably, Tullu Gudo, home to a monastery said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant around the ninth century. The early 20th-century explorer, Herbert Weld Blundell, describes finding that "two distinct terraces of former shores rise some 80 feet above the present level, forming a ring round that nearest to the lake on the north, about 4 miles from the shore, marking a former basin." The northern shores were covered by papyrus. Weld Blundell includes in his account "a curious tradition, perhaps suggested by the apparent elevated shore," that the lake "was a kingdom 50 miles across, inhabited by seventy-eight chiefs" which disappeared in a single night.

The lake is known for its population of birds and hippopotamuses. Lake Zway supports a fishing industry; according to the Ethiopian Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2,454 tonnes of fish are landed each year, which the department estimates is 83% of its sustainable amount.[6]

The shores and islands of Lake Zway are the home of the Gurage people. Tradition states that when the Muslim Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi conquered Ethiopia, the Christians of the area took refuge on its islands. They were later isolated from the rest of Ethiopia by the Oromo people, who settled around the lake. At the time Menelik II conquered the lands around the lake, the lake-dwellers were rediscovered and found to have preserved both their Christian faith and a number of ancient manuscripts. From Wikipedia

Lake Zquala

A huge volcanic cone set isolated in the surrounding plain and rising 600m Zuquala’s crater is still perfectly preserved. Two kilometres across and sixty meters deep the crater is occupied by a shallow lake, well known as a holy lake. For many centuries the rim has been the site of a monastery. Mohammed Gragn destroyed one of the buildings but it was rebuilt and is still in use today. The inside rim of the crater is covered with juniper forest, the frequent swirling mists encourage a heavy growth of trailing lichens and the beautiful black and white colobus monkey can sometimes be seen, adding yet another dimension to this already picturesque place. To get to Zuquala, it is possible to turn off the Addis Ababa-Bishoftu road at Dukem 35 km. from the city, or to turn off near Bishoftu at Dirray. The latter is probably the more used track at the present time, it is about three hours walk or fifty minutes drive to Wember Mariam at the base of the mountain. It is possible to drive to the top, but check conditions before driving it as it can be a difficult road.

Lake Chew Bahir

Lake Chew Bahir (Amharic: č̣ew bāhir, "salty lake") or Lake Istifanos, also called Stefanie, Basso Naebor and Chuwaha, is a lake in southern Ethiopia, on the boundary between the Oromia and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Regions.


When the Lake Chew Bahir is filled, it stretches into northern Kenya. Lying at the center of the Stephanie  Wildlife Sanctuary, the lake measures some 40 miles (64 km) by 15 miles (24 km).

This lake is the southernmost and lowest (1,880 ft) of a series of lakes which lie in the north-easterly continuation of the Great Rift Valley; its watershed is separated from the watershed of Lake Turkana by the Humu Range and the hills south of it. The Kumbi Range rises on its eastern side. Chew Bahir is fed from the north by the Weito River, and its tributary the Galana Sagan. The Galana Sagan receives the overflow of Lake Chamo in some years, but no permanent connection exists.

Ethiopia Crater Lakes

Wanchi Crater Lake

Wanchi Crater Lake is 155 km west of Addis Ababa, between Ambo and Welliso.   An extinct volcano (the top of which is 3380 metres above sea level) the crater contains a large lake, hot mineral springs, waterfalls and beautiful valleys and farmland .There is an old monastery with a church is situated on one of the lake islands.  Our guide told us that about 4000 people live within the crater.

You can drive to Wenchi on either the Ambo road (105km from Addis to Ambo on tarmac, turn left onto gravel road for 25km to Wenchi)  or the Jima road (125km on tarmac to Welliso, turn right onto gravel road for 38km).    There are hotels in Ambo (Abebech Metaferia hotel); or stay at the Negash Lodge in Welliso.  There are three or four campsites within the crater itself. There and back in a day is too much Driving.

At the top of the rim, there is an ecotourism office, from where you hire a guide and pay your admission permit.  Drive with the guide a further kilometer to a parking spot at a cafe, or down into the crater (a difficult road even in the dry season – we parked at the top and walked).You can do a two hour walk to hot springs and back, or a four hour loop involving two short hops across the lake in boats – to the island with the monastry, and then on to the headland.   You can also do it all on horseback if you prefer. Bring a picnic to eat in the valley or on the lakeshore.

Crater lakes of Debre Zeit

In the area of Debre Zeit there are seven small crater lakes which are alkaline and are supplied with rainfall and underground waters. These lakes are the homes of various kinds of birds.
 Boat trips and a rest on the beach are highly recommended.

Friday, 21 December 2012 01:26

Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia

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Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia

The Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia, (or Main Ethiopian Rift or Ethiopian Rift Valley) is a branch of the East African Rift that runs through Ethiopia in a southwest direction from the Afar Triple Junction. In the past, it has seen as part of a "Great Rift Valley" that ran from Madagascar to Syria.

 This famous East African Rift Valley comprises numerous hot springs, beautiful lakes and a variety of wildlife. The valley is the result of two parallel faults in the earth's surface between which, in distant geological time (Cenozoic era), the crust was weakened, and the land subsided. Ethiopia is often referred to as the "water tower" of Eastern Africa because of the many rivers that pour off the high tableland.

 The Great Rift Valley's passage through Ethiopia is marked by a chain of seven lakes:-

  • Lake Abaya (1162 km2, elevation 1285 m), the largest Ethiopian Rift Valley lake
  • Lake Chamo (551 km2, elevation 1235 m)
  • Lake Zway (485 km2, elevation 1636 m)
  • Lake Shala (329 km2, elevation 1558 m), the deepest Ethiopian Rift Valley lake
  • Lake Langano (230 km2, elevation 1585 m)
  • Lake Abijatta (205 km2, elevation 1573 m)
  • Lake Awasa (129 km2, elevation 1708 m)

Each of the seven lakes has its own special life and character and provides ideal habitats for the exuberant variety of flora and fauna that make the region a beautiful and exotic destination for tourists. Most of the lakes are suitable and safe for swimming and other water sports. Besides, Lake Abijyata and Shalla are ideal places for aquatic bird watchers. Most of the Rift valley lakes are not fully exploited for tourist purposes except Lake Langano where tourist class hotels are built. The Rift valley is also a site of numerous natural hot springs and the chemical contents of the hot springs are highly valued for their therapeutic purposes. In short, the Rift valley is endowed with many beautiful lakes, numerous hot springs, warm and pleasant climate and a variety of wildlife. It is considered as one of the most ideal areas for the development of international tourism in Ethiopia.

The Rift Valley is also a site of numerous natural hot springs and the chemical contents of the hot springs are highly valued for their therapeutic purposes though at present they are not fully utilized. In short, the Rift Valley is endowed with many beautiful lakes, numerous hot springs, warm and pleasant climate and a variety of wildlife. It is considered as one of the most ideal areas for the development of international tourism in Ethiopia.


Ethiopian lakes enable you relaxing sports for fishing. Nile perch, catfish, tilapia and tiger fish can be fished (caught in these lakes).

Friday, 21 December 2012 01:23

Sof Omar Natural Cave

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Sof Omar Natural Cave

An Extraordinary longest natural cave system in Africa is called Sof Omar. It extends at 15.1 kilometres (9.4 mi) long; sources claim it is the longest system of caves in Africaand ranks as the 306th longest in the World. , it has over 42 entrances, although only a han  dful is actually used to gain access nowadays.

It is situated to the east of Robe, in the Bale Zone of the Oromia Region in southeastern Ethiopia (6°55′N 40°45′E / 6.917°N 40.75°E) through which the Weyib River (Gestro River) flows. It sinks at the Ayiew Maco entrance and reappears at the Holuca resurgence 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) away. Long a religious centre, once the refuge of a medieval Muslim holy man, the Sof Omar Cave remains a sacred site , currently it is sacred both to Islam and the local Oromo traditional religion. The caves are known for their many pillars, particularly in the "Chamber of Columns".

Friday, 21 December 2012 01:22

Dallol & Mount Ert ‘Ale

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Dallol and Mount Ert ‘Ale

Dallol is the northern most extension of the (Great) Rift valley. It acts like a cauldron, trapping all the heat.  Dallol is a field of phreatic craters in the salt plain north east of Erta Ale range in one of the lowest and hottest are of the desolate Danakil depression and home to the Afar People.

It has been formed by the intrusion of basaltic magma in Miocene salt deposits and subsequent hydrothermal activity. Phreatic eruptions took place here in 1926, forming Dallol Volcano, numerous other eruption craters dot the salt flats nearby. These craters are the lowest known subaerial volcanic vents in the world, at over 45 m (150 ft) below sea level.

Numerous hot springs are discharging brine and acidic liquid here. Widespread are small, temporary geysers which are forming cones of salt.

The term Dallol was coined by the Afar people and means dissolution or disintegration describing a landscape made up of green acid ponds (pH-values less than 1) iron oxide, sulfur and salt desert plains. The area resembles the hot springs areas of Yellowstone Park.

Friday, 21 December 2012 01:14

Endemic Birds of Ethiopia

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Endemic Birds of Ethiopia

Ethiopia has rightly become one of Africa`s leading birding destinations. Its avifauna represents an interesting mixture of east and west African, Palearctic and some strikingly unusual endemic components. In addition to more than 800 species of birds, of which a staggering 29 are endemic to Ethiopia and its neighbour Eritrea, Ethiopia has a number of peculiar mammals, and a scenic diversity and cultural uniqueness that are hard to equal.

  • Abyssinian Catbird
  • Abyssinian Longclaw
  • Abyssinian Siskin
  • Abyssinian Slaty-Flycatcher
  • Abyssinian Owl
  • Abyssinian Woodpecker
  • Ankobar Serin
  • Banded Barbet
  • Black-winged Lovebird
  • Blue-winged Goose
  • Brown-Sawwing
  • Dark-headed Oriole
  • Degodi Lark
  • Erlanger's Lark
  • Harwood's Francolin
  • Lineated Pytilia
  • Nechisar NightjarWeaverBaglafecht (breeding male)
  • Rouget's Rail
  • Rueppell's Chat
  • Ruspoli's Turaco
  • Salvadori's Seedeater
  • Spot-breasted Lapwing
  • Stresemann's Bush-Crow
  • Thick-billed Raven
  • White-backed Black-Tit
  • White-billed Starling
  • White-collared Pigeon
  • Wattled Ibis
  • White-tailed Swallow
  • White-winged Cliff-Chat
  • Yellow-fronted Parrot
  • Yellow-throated Seedeater




  • Abyssinian Grosbeak-Canary
  • Abyssinian Lark
  • Abyssinian Roller
  • Abyssinian Slaty-Flycatcher
  • Abyssinian Waxbill
  • African Pygmy-Goose
  • Arabian Bustard
  • Black-billed Woodhoopoe
  • Black-throated Firefinch
  • Black-winged Lapwing
  • Blanford's Lark
  • Blue Sawwing
  • Blue-breasted Bee-eater
  • Boran Cisticola
  • Broad-winged White-eye
  • Brown-tailed Apalis
  • Brown-rumped Seed-eater
  • Chestnut-naped Francolin
  • Collared Lark
  • Cretzchmar's Babbler
  • Donaldson's-Smith  
  • Erkel's Francolin
  • Friedmann's Lark
  • Gillett's Lark
  • Hueglin's Bustard
  • Little Brown BustardWhite-rumped Babbler
  • Masked Lark
  • Moorland Chat
  • Moorland Francolin
  • Red-naped Bushshrike
  • Salvadori's Weaver
  • Scaly Babbler
  • Scaly Chatterer
  • Sidamo Lark
  • Short-billed Crombec
  • Somali Bee-eater
  • Somali Crombec
  • Somali Sparrow
  • Somali Wheatear
  • Sombre Chat
  • Sparrow-Weaver
  • Swainson's Sparrow
  • Thick-billed Raven
  • White-backed Tit
  • White-billed Starling
  • White-cheeked Turaco
  • White-collared Pigeon
  • White-winged Collared-Dove
  • White-rumped Babbler
  • Yellow-throated Sandgrouse


  • Ankober Serin
  • Archer's Lark
  • Degodi Lark
  • Harwood's Francolin 
  • Northern Bald Ibis
  • Red Sea Swallow
  • Ruspoli's Turaco 
  • Savadori's Serin
  • Sidamo Lark
  • Stresmann's Bush-Crow
  • Taita Falcon .
  • Wattled CraneEgret Cattle
  • White-tailed Swallow
  • White-winged Flufftail
  • Yellow-throated Seedeater
  • Corn Crake
  • Ferruginous Pochard
  • Greater Spotted Eagle
  • Imperial Eagle
  • Lesser Kestrel
  • Sociable Lapwing

BLUE-WINGED GOOSE"haa-haa-haa-haa" call, the Wattled Ibis is easily recognized even from some distance away. A flock of these ibises rising or flying overhead becomes especially noisy and obvious. In flight a white patch shows on the upper surface of the ibis' wing, and at close range its tliroat wattle is visible. These two diagnostic features distinguish the Wattled Ibis from the closely related Hadada Ibis (Bostrychia hagedavli), which also occurs in Ethiopia.

The goose has a peculiar habit, whether standing or walking, of resting its neck on its back. Indeed this posture together with the comparatively dull body color and bluish wing-patches are useful marks for identifying the species. Another characteristic habit of the goose can be observed during pair formation when the male struts around the female, his head bent over his back, and his bill pointed skywards or even behind him, exposing his blue wing patch and uttering a rapidly repeated soft, barely audible whistle, a "wnee-whu-whu-whu-whu-whu-whu-whu". Parties of this goose, like other geese, station sentinels at the periphery of the flock. An alarmed goose produces a soft "whew-whu-whu-wliu" and, when forced into flight, a rather nasal bark, a "penk, penk-penk", uttered at take-off but not in flight.


HARWOODSFRANCOLINHarwood's Francolin has been reported from only three localities along about 160 kilometers of valleys and gorges within the upper Blue Nile system extending to the east and north of the Addis Ababa-Debre Marcos-Dejen bridge; this francolin is a very poorly known Ethiopian endemic. It was first recorded for science in 1898 at Ahiyafej, then again in 1927 at Bichana, and in 1930 at Kalo Ford along the banks of the Blue Nile "below Zemie". No other record of this species has been published although recent reports suggest that it is more widely distributed than previously thought.


rouget`s rail

The Rouget's Rail is common on the western and southeastern highlands, but its presence is not so obvious as that of some other endemics. Once one is able to recognize the bird's calls, one well appreciates how common this rail is. It has two calls which are useful in identification: one, a piercing alarm note, a "dideet" or "a di-dii", and the other, a display call, "wreeeee-creeuw-wreeeee-creeliw". This Rail mainly lives at higher elevations of up to 4,100 meters (13,500 feet) where it inhabits small pockets of grass tussock and wet hollows with plenty, of cover; it is a characteristic bird of the moorlands of Ethiopia. 


SPOT-BREASTED PLOVERThe Spot-breasted Plover is an endemic usually found above 3050 meters (10,000 feet) in marshy grasslands and moorlands with giant health, giant lobelia, alchemilla and tussock grass in both the western and southeastern highlands. Widely distributed and locally common, the plover usually is seen in pairs or in small parties, or, in the non-breeding season, in small flocks of up to 30-40 individuals. Its behavior has been compared with that of the Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) of Europe: it is a relatively tame, noisy bird with a swerving flight; on the ground it makes short runs and sudden stops. When calling, it produces a "kree-kree-kre-krep-kreep-kreep", a "kueeeep-kueep" and the cry "pewit-pewit". It is distinguished from other plovers by having fleshy wattles in front of the eyes and by the breast spotted with black. 


black wingled love bird

Friday, 21 December 2012 00:40

Endemic Wild Mammals of Ethiopia

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Endemic Wild Mammals of  Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the few countries in the world, which possess unique and characteristic fauna with a high level of endemicity (World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC), 1991). Ethiopia is endowed with extensive and unique environmental conditions ranging from Ras Dejen (altitude 4600m) to Dallol (altitude100). This large altitudinal and latitudinal range makes Ethiopia an ecologically diverse country and home of several unique habitats. 277 Mammalian species are known in Ethiopia of which 31 Mammals species are known to occur in Ethiopia including those that require urgent conservation action i.e. Walia Ibex (Caprawalie), Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada), Mountain Nyala (Tragelaphus buxtoni), Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis), Starck’s Hare (Lepus starcki)…..

Below you can see the most recognized endemic mammals.

Gelada Baboon   ( Theropithecus  Gelada)

gelada baboons in Simien mountains.The Ethiopian Highland particularly Semien massif is considered to be the finest scenery in all Africa.Geladas (Theropithecus gelada); found in the Ethiopian highlands, at altitudes of between 8,000 and 14,000 feet.  They are the only primate species whose primary food source is grass - they have short, powerful fingers to help them dig down for the juicy, nutritious roots.

Geladas are “shuffle-feeders” who rarely stand up when grazing, instead preferring to continuously pluck grass blades whilst shuffling from place to place on their bottoms!

Because of this, unlike other baboon females whose bottoms swell up to indicate to the males that they are ready to mate, Gelada females have distinctive, pink hourglass shaped skin patches on the chest that visibly change in appearance throughout their oestrus cycle.  This allows males to tell if the females are ready to be mated, even when they are sitting down grazing! As well as deepening in color, blister-like “vesicles” appear on the chest (and groin area) which can clearly be seen from a distance.  All females of reproductive age in a group tend to have vesicles appearing simultaneously, unless they are pregnant.  Gestation is usually around six months in length and although single infants are most common, twins have been seen on occasion.

Geladas use a complex mix of facial expression and vocalizations to communicate with others in the group.  These can be very subtle or extremely obvious! Look out for them “mouth chattering” as a greeting to one another or flashing their pale eye-lids as a sign of annoyance.

Walia Ibex (capra walie) 

walya_ibex in semein mountainAmharic: Walia Ibex (Capra wallie) – An endemic ungulate with world population of less than 550, confined only in Afro-alpine habitat of Semien Mountain National Park, Ethiopia.

The habitat of the walia Ibex is the high semien Ethiopia`s dramatic high mountain terrain. Terrain which the walia inhabits is from 2,300 – 4,000 meters (7500- 13,5000feet) but chiefly above 2500 and below 3000 m (8,000 – 9, 500ft). The tiny remant population which remains is now confined to a range of about twenty miles of the highest and steepest bays and buttresses of the northern escarpment. They are already extinct in all other parts of their range which once starched from Byeda along the escarpment to Geech and Addis Gey.

The males and the females both have horns, but the males are more massive. Curving back in a graceful arc to the withers the sometimes attain a length of over 110 cms. The females are smaller in body and lighter in color with shorter thinner horns. They live in small parties of two to half a dozen and the big old males often live solitary except during the mating season.

Swayne`s Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus swsynei)

Amharic: Korkay

Red hartebeest female with young calfThe Swayne’s Hartebeest or Somali Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus swaynei)  is an endemic subspecies of Hartebeest in Ethiopia.

Hartebeest are almost grotesquely long faced and have high wither and sloping hindquarters. The horns, carried by both sexes, are doubly curved and mounted on a pedicle. Some authors still consider that according to the shape of the horns, which is supposed to be the most important diagnostic character, each race of hartebeest should enjoy full specific rank. However, the presence of hybrid forms has led zoologists to regard them as a sub – species, and it is now generally accepted to classify them as geographic representatives of the same species.

Mount Nyala

mount nyala The majority of mountain Nyala( Tragelaphus Buxtoni)   are found in the Bale Mountains, where most of the southern slopes are densely forested.

Nyala are a magnificent sight, particularly the old bulls with their fine spiraled horns. Females do not carry horns and they have rather long necks and large ears which are very conspicuous. The body color of an old male is dark grey, with a line of long hair along the back forming a straggly mane which continues along the spine as a brown and white crest. They move in parties or small herds of about five to Ten females, and although the really old bulls are solitary and not often seen, young adult males carrying quite impressive spreads of horns, can sometimes be seen with or near the herds of females.

Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis)

Ethiopian Red wolfEthiopian Wolf (Canis simensis) – A critically endangered species dwelling mainly in Afroalpine meadows and moorlands of few southeast, central and northern highland massifs of Ethiopia.

It is one of the most beautiful and spectacular members of the wolf family in the world.  The habitat of the Ethiopian wolf is the Bale Mountain National park, second Highland Park area, it is less humanized, more vegetated, more wild.


 Wild Ass (Equus asinus)

wild assThe wild ass formerly occupied the coastal plain extending from Massawa in the north to Wabi Shebeli in the south and inland across the plains of the Danakil.It is more likely to be feral donkeys. The distinction between other Ass is, which blends so effectively in to the back ground , and their amazing ability to walk in the rocky mountains over exceedingly steep and rough ground.

Menilik`s Bushbuk ( Tragelaphus scriptus meneliki)

Amharic: Dukula

Menilik`s Bushbuk

In Bale Mountains National Park, as you climb up through the Hagenia forest with its flowering trees, and enter the zone of Giant Heath and St. John`s Wort, sunlight dapples the ground beneath your feet, lichens hang softly from every twinge and bright dark green mosses clo the the branches. Suddenly a glimpse of bright chestnut draws your attention to the female bushbuck, and usually not far away is the shining dark , almost black , male. Bushbuck are often solitary, but in Bale any way, Menelik`s is almost always seen in pairs or small family parties of female and young.