Ethiopia isn’t necessarily always thought of as a wildlife destination. Nevertheless its unique fauna is among some of its many great treasures. The country is home to several endemic species that could be classified as, for want of a better word, oddballs. Ranging from the elusive Ethiopian wolf to no fewer than 16 different bird species.
Here Adventure in Ethiopia shall introduce you with part of them.
one of fully endemic antelope species is the mountain nyala. 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. The main protected population is found in the north of Bale National Park, around Dinsho and Mount Gaysay, although the species is IUCN red-listed as endangered.
the striking and unmistakable gelada monkey (Thercopithecus gelada) is the most common of Ethiopia’s endemic large mammals, with a total population estimated at 250,000. The male gelada is a spectacularly handsome and distinctive beast, possessed of an imposing golden mane and heart-shaped red chest patch. It is very common in the Simien Mountains, its main stronghold, where the population is estimated at 4,500-plus, and many troops are so habituated you can walk up to within a metre of foraging individuals.
the one predator that everyone will want to see in Ethiopia is the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis), the rarest of the world’s 37 canid species, and listed as Critically Endangered on the 2000 IUCN Red List. Standing about 60cm high, it is significantly larger than any jackal, and has a long muzzle similar to that of a coyote. Its main stronghold is Bale National Park, where there’s an estimated 250–300 adults, and another 50-odd Ethiopian wolves inhabit the recently gazetted Arsi Mountains National Park to the immediate east of Bale.
Prince Ruspoli’s turaco (Turaco ruspolii)
is at Arero and about 80 kilometers north of Neghelli area localities 1800 meters (6000 feet) in elevation.
This turaco is considered to be an endangered species and is included in the “Red Book” of endangered animals of the world. However, recent sightings in juniper forests and especially in dry water courses which include figs, the rubiaceous tree, Adina, and undergrowth of acacia and Teclea shrubs, suggest that the species may be more common than thought.
Ethiopia’s rarest endemic is the Walia ibex, formerly widespread in the mountains of the north but now restricted to the Simien Mountains, where it is uncommon but quite often seen by hikers. The Walia ibex is a type of goat that lives on narrow mountain ledges, and can easily be recognised by the large decurved horns of adults of both sexes.
The population is currently thought to exceed 1,000, thanks to stringent enforcement of the ban on hunting, and sightings are increasingly common.
Blue-winged goose (Cyanochen cyanoptera)
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. In the big rains the flocks also move to lower elevations of the plateau.
Menelik’s Bushbuck (Tragelaphus seriptus meneliki) Dukula
is also fairly widespread and can be seen in much of Ethiopia’s highland forest up to the treeline at 4,000 metres (13,000 ft.) They are in the cedar forests of Menagesha and parts of the Entoto range. No accurate estimate has been made of their total population because of their nocturnal and furtive habits. Like the Mountain Nyala, they are easier to observe in the Bale Mountains National Park where they are fully protected and therefore a little less shy.
Swayne’s Hartebeest (Alceluphus buselaphus swaynei) Korkay
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 leader- ship 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.
The small surviving population is now restricted to the grass and thorn scrub plains of southern Danakil and the Rift Valley lakes region, on the Alledeghi plains east of Awash and from Awash valley to the southern lakes. The Nechisar National Park has been established for their protection.
Abyssinian ground hornbill (Bucorvus abyssinicus)
is a large, terrestrial hornbill with black body feathers and white primary feathers which are visible in flight. The adult male has a patch of bare blue skin around the eye and an inflatable patch of bare skin on the neck and throat which is red, apart from the upper throat which is blue. The bill is long and black except for a reddish patch at the base of the mandible. On top of the bill there is a short open-ended black casque. Lives in open grassland, in pairs or small family parties. The patrol their territory by walking and are reluctant fliers, usually only taking to the air when alarmed.
Great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus)
also known as the eastern white pelican, rosy pelican or white pelican is a bird in the pelican family. The great white pelican is highly sociable and often forms large flocks. It is well adapted for aquatic life.
Wattled ibis (Bostrychia carunculata)
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 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.
Aardvark (Orycteropus afer)
is nocturnal and solitary creature that feed almost exclusively on ants and termites. An Aardvark emerges from its burrow in the late afternoon or shortly after sunset, and forages over a considerable home range, swinging its long nose from side to side to pick up the scent of food. When a concentration of ants or termites is found, the Aardvark digs into it with its powerful front legs, keeping its long ears upright to listen for predators, and takes up an astonishing number of insects with its long, sticky tongue—as many as 50,000 in one night has been recorded. They are exceptionally fast diggers, but otherwise move rather slowly.
the largest and ugliest of storks (measuring up to 60in (152cm) in height, a weight of 20 lb (9 kg) and a wingspan of up to 12ft), the Marabou Stork. It is predominantly a wetland bird.Marabous gather in numbers around fishermen’s docks and fish markets, in fact anywhere where fish are cleaned and scraps disposed of, allowing these intelligent birds to obtain a free meal.
Ethiopia’s Rift Valley lakes such as Lake Ziway and Awassa are famous for the gangs of Marabous that hang around the fish markets and allow close approach in the hope of a smelly handout. Rubbish dumps are another favorite.
Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
medium sized bird of prey with generally whitish plumage, wide and pointed wings, wedge shaped tail and yellow skin around the eyes.
Habitat – mountainous areas, Erta Ale.
Saddle-billed stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis)
the second largest, and at the other end of the attractiveness scale, is the stunning Saddle-billed Stork. Only slightly shorter, but more elegantly built than the Marabou. Saddle-bills are more strictly restricted to wetland environments where they are adept at catching their own fish with their enormous upturned bills. They also prey on frogs and crabs. The male having dark eyes, dangling yellow wattles and more black in the wing, whereas the female has bright yellow eyes, no wattle and incredibly white wings that are absolutely striking in flight. Their name is taken from the yellow “saddle” atop the bare red skin at the base of their bill.
Silvery-cheeked hornbill (Bycanistes brevis)
it lives in small family groups and feeds on fruit, insects, eggs and small vertebrates, such as lizards and small birds.
Shoebill ( whalehead)
this large waterbird is unmistakable due to its unique ‘shoe-shaped’ bill which gives it an almost prehistoric appearance – reminding us of birds’ dinosaur ancestry. This species’ inhabit wetland habitat, preferring large, seasonally flooded marshes with dense vegetation and areas of floating vegetation often formed by papyrus. They are highly solitary and they forage by ‘walking slowly’ or standing. The habitation for them is National Park of Gambella.
Abyssinian Black Lion
genetically distinct from all other Lions in Africa. They are typically found in Bale mountain park at Harenna Forest, and sport a distinctive black mane after which they are named.
Bale Mountain Vervet
another mysterious inhabitant of the Bale Mountains park. The one of Africa’s least studied primates. They make their homes in the thick bamboo forests of the park, and despite their remote habitat, they seem to have kept up with current fashion with their blond coif and cool-guy beard.
have been present in the walled Ethiopian city of Harar for at least 500 years, where they sanitise the city by feeding on its organic refuse. At the 1960s the some farmer began to feed hyenas in order to stop them attacking his livestock, with his descendants having continued the practice. Some of the hyena men give each hyena a name they respond to, and call to them using a “hyena dialect”, a mixture of English and Oromo. The hyena men feed the hyenas by mouth, using pieces of raw meat provided by spectators. Tourists usually organise to watch the spectacle through a guide for a negotiable rate.
Salt’s dik-dik (Madoqua saltiana)
a small antelope found in semidesert, bushland, and thickets. It is named after Henry Salt, who discovered it in Abyssinia in the early 19th century. Salt’s dik-diks are shy animals. They are active at night and dusk to avoid the midday heat, and are considered crepuscular. Dominant dik-diks flare their crests. The animals are most often found in pairs and small groups, and Salt’s dik-diks mainly eat leaves and shoots of acacia trees.
Common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)
the only pig species that has adapted to grazing and savanna habitats.Its diet is omnivorous, composed of grasses, roots, berries and other fruits, bark, fungi, insects, eggs and carrion. The diet is seasonably variable, depending on availability of different food items. During the wet seasons, warthogs graze on short perennial grasses. During the dry seasons, they subsist on bulbs, rhizomes, and nutritious roots. Warthogs are powerful diggers, using both their snouts and feet. Whilst feeding, they often bend their front feet backwards and move around on the wrists.