Ethiopia: Up in the Mountains with an Impressive Array of Wildlife


With UNESCO World Heritage Sites dotted around the country, Ethiopia is an excellent destination for wildlife enthusiasts and tourists alike. It’s the only place in the world to see the fascinating gelada baboon, as well as the endangered Walia ibex and the Ethiopian wolf—the rarest canid in the world. Ethiopia also boasts more than 22,000 species of butterflies and moths, in addition to more than 800 bird species, 23 of which are unique to the country.

The country’s signature geographic feature is its high central plateau, although much of the geography is actually mountainous. The area contains 20 peaks that rise above 4,000 meters, including Ras Dashen, which, at 4,620 meters, is the third highest mountain in Africa.

The highlands are the source of four major river systems that spread across Africa, and are diagonally bisected by the Great Rift Valley. While the lowlands and Eastern highlands are hot, dry areas, the Western highlands enjoy summer rainfall and are home to the majority of the country’s population. The capital city, Addis Ababa, is also located in the Western highlands, and is Africa’s highest capital city.

Agriculture and animal husbandry are the main sources of employment for Ethiopia’s population, employing roughly 85% of its inhabitants. Government services, industry and construction are also common sources of income generation.

CHALLENGES: Agricultural expansion is jeopardizing the welfare of wildlife

Ethiopia’s highlands are some of the most densely populated agricultural areas in Africa, yet, over the years, drought and soil degradation have led to crop failures, often triggering widespread famine. Livestock expansion, overgrazing and deforestation have greatly reduced natural habitats, creating an ecological challenge for many of the species that call Ethiopia home.

Read more aboutEthiopia’s Wildlifeon African Wildlife Foundation
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