The natural beauty of Ethiopia amazes the first-time visitors, Ethiopia is a land of rugged mountains, some 25 are over 4000-meter-high, broad savannah, lakes and rivers. The Great Rift Valley is a remarkable region of volcanic lakes, with their famous collections of birdlife, great escarpments and stunning vistas. With nine major wildlife national reserves, Ethiopia provides a microcosm of the sub Saharan ecosystem, birdlife abounds about 860 species, and indigenous animals from the rare Walia Ibex to the shy Wild Ass, room free as nature indeed.

Here we will try to mention briefly, some of the most interesting Ethiopia’s national parks, those enable the visitors to enjoy the country’s scenery and wildlife, birds and mammals some which exist only in Ethiopia conserved natural habitats and offer opportunities for travel adventure.

ABIYATA – SHALlA lakes NATIONAL PARK
Situated in the heart of the Rift Valley Lakes National Park are two exceptionally scenic stretches of water lakes Abiyata and Shalla, which together form 50 percent of the 880sq km conservation area. Lake Shalla, shrouded by an area of primeval wonder, is thought to be the deepest lake in Africa north of the Equator. Lake Abiyata is circled by 60 km of white shoreline. Despite their natural beauty, these lakes are best known for their bird life, at Abiyata, never more than 10 meters deep, Greater and Lesser Flamingos abound, alone with White Necked Cormorants, several species of Herons, Storks, Spoonbill, Ibises including the Sacred Ibis, African Ducks, Gulls and Terns.  During the northern winter, thousands of Asiatic and European Ducks and Waders migrate to Abiyata’s shores. Lake Shalla is well known for its large colony of Great Pelicans, undoubtedly the most important breeding colony for this species in Africa.

Awash national park
It is the oldest and most developed wildlife reserve in Ethiopia, featuring the 2,007 meters Fantalle Volcano Crater with stunning views, extensive mineral hot spring and extraordinary volcanic formation, and this natural treasure is bordered to the south by the Awash River and 225 km east of the capital, Addis Ababa.

The wildlife consists mainly of East African plain animals including; Beisa Oryx, Defassa Waterbuck, Soemmerring’s Gazelle, Salt’s Dik – Dik, Greater and lesser Kudu, Warthog, Anubis and Hamadrayas Baboon, Colobus and Varvet monkey, Crocodile, Hippopotamus, the endemic Hartebeest, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and 450 species of birds all living within the park’s 720 sq. km.

BALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
The Bale Mountains, with their vast moorlands and extensive heath land, virgin woodlands, pristine mountain streams and alpine climate remain untouched and beautiful world. Rising to a height of more than 4,000 meter, the range borders Ethiopia’s southern highlands, whose highest peak, Mount Tulludimtu the second highest peak in Ethiopia stands at 4,377meters.

The establishment of the 2,470 sq km, Bale Mountains National Park was crucial to the survival of the four endemic mammals, Mountain Nyala, Menelik’s Bushbuck, Ethiopian Wolf and Giant Mole Rat and different endemic species of birds including Rouget’s Rail, Abyssinian Woodpecker, Abyssinian Cat Bird, White Backed Black Tit, Olive Trash, Wattle Ibis and Crane are some of the species inhabiting the park. Besides Bale Mountains offer some fine high-altitude horse and foot trekking, and the streams of the park, which become important as they well stocked with rainbow and brown trout fishes.

CHEBERA CHURCHURA National park
Chebera National park is found within the western side of the central Omo Gibe basin, in between Dawro zone and Konta Special Woreda of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region in Ethiopia. The park is located about 330 & 460 km southwest of Hawassa & Addis Ababa respectively. It covers an area of 1215 km2 that ranges in altitude from 700 to 2450 meter above sea level.

 

 

 

GambelLa National Park
Gambella National Park is a proposed National Park and located in the western part of Ethiopia close to the Sudanese boarder in the Gambella Region, its 5061 square kilometers of territory is encroached upon by cotton plantations and refugee camps. The Gambella National Park was established primarily to protect two species of endangered wetland antelopes: The White Eared Kob and the Nile Lechwe. Other wildlife reported as living here include populations of elephant, African Buffalo, lion, roan antelope, Tiang, Lelwel, Hartebeest, Olive Baboon, and Gureza Monkey. Several birds also found in this area include the shoebill stork, the Long-Tailed Paradise Whydah and the Red throated and Green Bee Eaters.

 

MAGO NATIONAL PARK
Located east of the Omo River, the vegetation is mainly savannah grassland and savannah bush, some forested areas around the Neri River which is extending across an area of 2,160 sq km. The park is rich in wildlife with few human inhabitant (is home of the Mursi tribes). Mammal’s species total 81, including Hartebeest, Giraffe, Roan Antelope, Elephant, Lion, Leopard and perhaps even a rare Black Rhino.

 

 

 

 NETCHESAR NATIONAL PARK
Located about 505km from the capital of the country, near the town of Arbaminch, the Park was established as a sanctuary for the endemic Swayne’s Hartebeest, an endangered sub species throughout Ethiopia. The 514 sq km park is situated in the Rift Valley; at 1,867 meters above see level between lakes Abaya and Chamo in the south central Ethiopia. The park mainly covered with open grassland, it also contains spares area of savannah woodland and highland forest. Numerous species of birds and eight four mammal species occurred, including Hippo, Zebra, Buffalo, Greater Kudu, Reedbuck, Grant’s gazelle, Lion and Leopard.

 

 

OMO NATIONAL PARK
The most wilderness Ethiopia’s National Park, with an area of 4,068 sq km, it is a vast expanse of the wilderness, adjacent to the Omo River, is home to a remarkable range of wildlife. 306 species of birds have been identified here, while large herds of eland, some buffalo, elephants, giraffe, cheetah, lion, leopard, and Burchell’s zebra are common.

The park is not easily accessible, as the current means of access is via Omorate and the ferry to the north bank of the river. The park headquarter is 75 km from Kibish settlement. However, a new airstrip is also available close to the headquarters and a pleasant campsite on the Mui River plans are in hand for further major improvements.

 

SiMIEN MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
The Simien Mountains National Park covers 400 square kilo meters of highland area at an average elevation of 3,300 meters. Ras Dashen, at 4,620 meters the highest peak in Ethiopia, stands adjacent to the park. Within this spectacular splendor, three endemic mammals can be visited here, Walia Ibex, Ethiopian wolf and Gelada Baboon as well as klipspringer and Bushbuck. Birds such as Lammergeyer, Augur Buzzard, Verreaux’s Eagle, Kestrel and Falcon also soar above this mountain retreat. UNESCO as a world heritage site has recorded the Simien escarpments, which are often compared with a Grand Canyon in the USA.

 

 

YANGUDI RASSA NATIONAL PARK
Lying 350km northeast of Addis Ababa, this 2,700 sq km park is located in the arid northern rift lowlands. It is traversed by the Awash River and inhabited by among its unusual animals the Somali Wild Ass ancestor of the domestic Donkey. Other mammals within the park are typical of the arid Horn of Africa; including Gravy’s Zebra, Greater and Lesser Kudu, Gerenuk and the Cheetah.

Other equally important Sanctuaries to be visited are the Senkele Swayne’s Hartebeest Sanctuary, Kunni Muktar Mountain Nyala Sanctuary, Babile Elephant Sanctuary and Yabello Abyssinian Bush Crow (endemic bird species) Sanctuary is very interesting for visitors.

Other Natural Attraction

Yellow Throat Seed Eater . . . Wing 64 – 70 mm

The Yellow Throated Seed Eater is known from a few isolated areas in acacia grass savanna in southern and southeastern Ethiopia. It is a species of questionable taxonomic status since it may be a hybrid between the Yellow Ramped Seed Eater (S. Atrogularis) and the White bellied Canary (S. Dorostritus). It has a grey back and is similar in size to the Yellow Ramped Seed Eater but has streaks on the back and a long tail like the White Bellied Canary.

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Yellow Fronted Parrot . . . Wing 160 – 188 mm

The Yellow Fronted Parrot occurs in Ethiopia from approximately 600 to 3,350 meters (2,000 – 1 1,000 feet) in the western and southeastern highlands, the Rift Valley and the western lowlands in forests and woodlands varying from Saint John’s Wort and Hagenia to olive, Podocarpus and juniper to fig and acacia.

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White Tailed Swallow . . . Wing 100 – 105 mm

The White Tailed Swallow was first introduced to science in 1942 when C. W. Bensoii reported it in southern Ethiopia from Yabello to Mega in short grass savanna with small acacia thorn bush. This endemic, related to the Pied Winged Swallow (Hirundo Leucosoma) of western Africa and the Pearl Breasted Swallow (H. Diniidiata) of southern Africa, is common but restricted to an area of about 4850 square kilometers (3000 square miles) between 1200 and 1350 meters (4000 – 4500 feet).

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White Winged Cliff Chat . . . Wing 106 – 122 mm

The White Winged Cliff Chat is a bird which is locally frequent too common in the highlands of most of Ethiopia where it lives in gorges, on cliffs, on scrubby mountain sides and in open country among rocks and grasslands; it is uncommon in the north. The Chat occurs usually above 2000 meters (6500 feet) and rarely below 1500 meters (5000 feet). Its preferred habitat in the country varies.

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White Billed Starling . . . Wing 151 – 165 mm

The White Billed Starling is frequent to locally abundant in the western and southeastern highlands, being most common in the north. Widely distributed in the country, it usually lives in association with cliffs and gorges near waterfalls.

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White Backed Black Tit . . . Wing 71 – 81 mm

The White Backed Black Tit, wholly black with a whitish mantle, is found in woodlands, thickets and forests in the western and southeastern highlands from 1800 – 3500 meters (6000 – 11,500 feet). It is locally frequent to occasionally common except in Eritrea, where it is uncommon.

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Wattled Ibis . . . Wing 325 – 380 mm

Because of its loud, raucous “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 it’s tolerate wattle is visible.

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Thick Billed Raven . . . Wing 427 – 472 mm

The Thick Billed Raven, closely related to the White Necked Raven (Corvus Albicollis) of East and South Africa, is a bird which is common to abundant from about 1200 to at least 4100 meters (4000 – 13,500 feet). It visits many habitats including alpine screes, cliffs and gorges, giant lobelia, Chemilla, tussock grass, giant heath moorlands, highland grasslands, giant lieath, Saint John’s wort, bamboo, juniper, Podocarpus, olive and lowland subtropical humid forests. It is especially abundant at higher elevations where it is obvious and sometimes bold around camps, villages and cities including Addis Ababa.

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Spot Breasted Plover . . . Wing 234 -240 mm

The 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.

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Ruppll’s Chat . . . Wing 85 – 94 mm

The Ruppell’s Chat is one of the poorest known of all Ethiopian endemics and uncommon to locally frequent in the western highlands of Shoa, Gojjam, Gonder, Wollo, Tigray and Eritrea regions. It has not been recorded in the southeastern highlands or in the southern portion of the western highlands.

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Rouget’s Rail . . . Wing 125 – 135 mm

The Rouget’s Rail is common on the western and southeastern highlands, but its presence is not as 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.

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Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco . . . Wing 180 – 184 mm

Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco is known in the literature from two areas in southern Ethiopia in juniper forests with dense evergreen undergrowth: one is at Arero and the other 80 kilometers north of Negele: both localities are 1800 meters (6000 feet) in elevation.

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Harwood’s Francolin . . . Wing 180 – 190 mm

Harwood’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.

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Golden Backed Woodpecker . . . Wing 89 – 99 mm

The Golden Backed Woodpecker is a very uncommon, not often seen endemic of the Ethiopian highlands from about 1,500 – 2,400 meters although it has been seen up to approximately 3,200 meters (10,500 feet). It lives in western and southeastern highlands in forests, woodlands and savannas and seems to be more uncommon in the northern than in the southern parts of the country.

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Black Winged Love Bird . . . Wing 95 – 110 mm

The Black Winged Lovebird is the common, small green parrot of the Ethiopian plateau. It is widely distributed from about 1,500 – 3,200meter in the western and southeastern highlands and in the Rift Valley in forests and woodlands of Hagenia, juniper, Podocarpus, olive, acacia, candelabra euphorbia, combretum and fig.

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Endemic Birds of Ethiopia

The White Billed Starling is frequent to locally abundant in the western and southeastern highlands, being most common in the north. Widely distributed in the country, it usually lives in association with cliffs and gorges near waterfalls. It also inhabits moorlands with giant lobelia, Alchemilla, tussock grass and giant heath and highland grasslands: it rarely travels below 1800 meters (6000 feet). Its square tail and white bill distinguish the White Billed Starling from other Red Wing or Chestnut Wing Starlings. It feeds on the fruits of juniper and fig trees often in groups of five to 40 non breeding birds. It nests in June in crannies high up on sheer cliffs, sometimes in association with the White Collared Pigeon.

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Abyssinian Catbird . . . Wing 83 – 91 mm

The Abyssinian Catbird is one of the finest, if not the finest singer of all the birds of Africa, is frequent too common in the western and southern highlands between 1800 and 3500 meters (600 – 11,500 feet) in giant heath, Saint John’s wort, highland bamboo, juniper, Podocarpus and olive forests.

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Abyssinian Long Claw . . . Wing 83 – 95 mm

The Abyssinian Long Claw is very similar in both appearance and behavior to the Yellow Throated Long Claw (MacronyxCroceus) of other parts of Africa. They are common grassland bird of the western and southeastern highlands except in the extreme north where it does not occur.

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Banded Barbet . . . Wing 79 – 84 mm

The little known Banded Barbet is very widely distributed throughout Ethiopia between 300 and 2400 meters (1000 – 8000 feet). Although the numbers and abundance of this species have not been determined, it seems to vary from being uncommon in the northwest and cast to locally common elsewhere in the country, living singly or in pairs in trees near water.

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 Black Headed Forest Oriole . . . Wing 128 – 145 mm

The distribution, numbers, time of nesting and life history of the Black Headed Forest Oriole are not clearly understood because of the difficulty of distinguishing it from the Black Headed Oriole (Oriolus Larvatus). The two are separable by the color of parts of wings feathers, features that are not easy to see in the field.

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 Black Headed Siskin . . . Wing 74 – 80 mm

The Black Headed Siskin is common to locally abundant in tile western and southeastern highlands from 1800 – 4100 meters (6000 – 13,500 feet). Almost always in flocks, this little-known finch inhabits moorlands with giant lobelia, Alchemilla, tussock grass and giant heath, highland grasslands and the open areas of montane forests, especially St. John’s wort and Hagenia.

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Blue Winged Goose . . . Wing 325 – 376 mm

The Blue Winged Goose inhabits plateau marshes, streams and damp grasslands from about 1800 meters (6000 feet) upward. Pairs or small parties of three to five of these geese are common and easily seen at high elevations in small stream valleys and in pools and marshes in the moorlands where giant lobelia, Alchemilla and tussock grass predominate and where they nest in March, April, June and September.

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Western Highlands of Ethiopia

This region is known by its green forest area, more than any other part of the country, it is the lush western highlands, all rolling hills, neat cultivation and dense mountain forest, that subvert preconception about Ethiopia being known by a land of desert and famine.

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Rift Valley Lakes in Ethiopia

Lake Abaya is a lake found in the Southern Nations Nationalities and peoples region of Ethiopia, it was named Lake Margherita by the Italian explorer Vittorio Bottego, the first European to visit the lake, to honor the wife of king Umberto I of Italy, Queen Margherita. This name appears in older publications, and currently is rarely used.

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Ethiopian Coffee

Settled agriculture began in Ethiopia some 2,000 years ago. Since time immemorial, coffee Arabica has been grown in the wild forests of the southwestern massive highlands of the Kaffa and Buno district of the country. Ethiopia is the primary centre of origin and genetic diversity of the Arabica coffee plant, earlier known as jasminum arabicum laurifolia.

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Endemic Mammals of Ethiopia

Endemic to Ethiopia, Walia Ibex, formerly widespread in the northern mountain massifs, but now restricted to the Simien Mountains National Park, where it is uncommon but quite often seen by hikers.

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Walia Ibex

Endemic to Ethiopia, Walia Ibex, formerly widespread in the northern mountain massifs, but now restricted to the Simien Mountains National Park, where it is uncommon but quite often seen by hikers.

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Mountain Nyala

Ethiopia’s one fully endemic antelope species is the Mountain Nyala (Tragelaphus Buxtoni). The mountain Nyala is similar in size and shape to the Greater Kudu but it has smaller horns with only one twist as opposed to the greater Kudu’s two or three. The shaggy coat of the Mountain Nyala is brownish rather than plain grey, and the striping is indistinct. This elegant and handsome antelope live in herds of five to ten animals in juniper and hagenia forests in the southeast highland.

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Menelik’s Bushbuck

Belonging to the same family as the Mountain Nyala, the Bushbuck shares with them the family characteristic of shy and elusive behavior. Over forty races of Bushbuck have been identified, which vary considerably both from the point of view of...

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Ethiopian Wolf

This beautiful animal was once widespread over the Ethiopian plateau lands and was often observed by travelers with its fine red coat shining in the sun, making it easy to spot against the greens and browns of the grasslands. Its frightening decline in numbers is due not only to indiscriminate shooting, but also to outbreaks of rabies, which certainly decimated its numbers in the Simien area. In this part of Ethiopia it is now extremely rare, even rarer than the Walia Ibex, but it has another stronghold, in Bale, which the Walia doesn’t.

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Gelada Baboon

The striking and unmistakable most common of Ethiopia’s endemic large mammal species, with a population estimated by some to be as high as 700,000. The male Gelada is a spectacular handsome and unmistakable beast, possessed of an imposing golden mane and heart shaped red chest patch, which serve the same purpose as the colorful buttocks or testicles found on those African monkeys that don’t spend most of their lives sitting on their bums.

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Swayne’s HeartBeest

Swayne’s Hartebeest lives in open country, light bush, sometimes in tall savanna woodland. These are social animals and are normally seen in herds of 4 – 15, up to thirty. Each herd is under the leadership of the master bull which leads the females with their young. The territory is defended by the male; you may often see them grazing peacefully, with the bull on slightly higher ground acting as sentinel for his herd.

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Giant Mole Rat

Giant Mole rat (Tachyoryctes macrocephalus), also known as the giant root rat, plays a much more serious role in the ecology of the Afro alpine communities of Ethiopia. It is endemic to Ethiopia, where it is confined to high altitude shrub and grasslands in the Afro alpine habitat of the Bale Mountains (3000 – 4377 meter). Their present distribution may be only a fraction of their former range as a result of their specialization to montane habitats, which are shrinking, as well as to increased isolation between populations.

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