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Ethiopian Biodiversity.

May 30, 2012

Ethiopia has 871 species of bird and 39 endemics, birds native or restricted to areas of Ethiopia, often the highlands. Ethiopia also has endemic mammals: a wolf, giraffe, the famous Gelada Monkeys and Mountain Nyalas. The country contains Abijatta-shalla Lakes National Park, Awash National Park, Bale Mountains National Park and Simien Mountains National Park. However, forty Years ago forests covered 40% of Ethiopia; today less than 3% remain…mostly in UNESCO coffee reserves. 80,000-200,000 hectares of forest is cleared annually in Ethiopia. Maintaining habitats and biodiversity in Ethiopia is essential.

Loss of biodiversity is the single most important threat to the conservation and sustainable use of drylands in northern Ethiopia due to many centuries of cultivation and heavy livestock grazing pressure.

Human activities, such as direct “harvesting” of species, introduction of alien species, habitat destruction, and various forms of habitat degradation, such as environmental pollution, have caused dramatic losses of biodiversity; current extinction rates are estimated to be 100–1000 times higher in areas that have become home to human populations compared to prehuman extinction rates.

Degradation is a biophysical process driven by socioeconomic and political causes. Subsistence agriculture, poverty and illiteracy are important causes of land and environmental degradation in Ethiopia.

About 12% of Ethiopia’s population follow the Animist belief system or traditional religion. They believe that natural objects have spirits, which has a big impact on day to day life and attitudes to the environment and wildlife. Ethiopia has much to teach us. Ancient grains such as Teff & Ethiopian black barley offer biodiverse, healthy crops and have been the subject of Dawn Chorus projects.

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Above: supporter Tsebay Bekele in her grandfathers richly biodiverse barley field near to Sheno.

Below: lizards are easily found in Addis. Photograph by one of our volunteers.Addis wildlife

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