Catalysing Conservation for the Sustainable Development of Ethiopia

Saving Ethiopia’s Wildlife

SDPASE has taken up its activities at the 1st Oct, 2008. It is funded by the Global Environment Facility/UNDP. Other funding sources are the Government of Ethiopia and co-funding institutions like NGOs, bilateral development projects etc.
The Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) has been charged by Government and UNDP implement the project.
The project has two phases of 4 years each. In the first stage, GIZ-IS (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, International Services), has been commissioned to be the implementing partner of EWCA. The second phase will be implemented by EWCA.

The protected areas and the wildlife of Ethiopia are important for the development of the country

Ethiopia’s wildlife is little known to town dwellers and the expatriate community of the country. Most tourists come to Ethiopia to visit the cultural sites, some of them world famous like Lalibela, Axum, and Gondar. Yet there are more than 30 National Parks, Wildlife Reserves, and Sanctuaries in the country which harbour wildlife. Outside these areas, large tracts of the country have been declared “Controlled Hunting Areas”, where tourists hunt wildlife on a sustainable basis for hard currency. The “nominal” protected area system of national parks, wildlife reserves and sanctuaries, the controlled hunting areas and the forest priority areas, covers an impressive 14% of the country.
In fact, Ethiopia’s biodiversity is unique even when compared to its famous neighbouring safari destinations like Kenya and Tanzania. There are over 6,000 species of plants, many still not described by science, around 860 bird species (16 endemic species and two endemic genera and 14 endemic species shared with Eritrea), and 277 species of mammals, out of which 35 endemic species and six endemic genera. Ethiopia still harbours important populations of elephants and lions. More importantly there are a number of charismatic and endemic “flagship” species, most notably the Gelada Baboon (an endemic genus and the world’s only grazing primate), the Mountain Nyala, the Ethiopian Wolf, the Walia Ibex, the Swayne’s Hartebeest, the African Wild Ass and the Dibatag (an antelope of the desert areas of Ogaden).
But some of the protected areas are only “paper parks”. There is de facto open access to protected areas even though the law says otherwise. Forest and wildlife areas are converted to agriculture. Regional and District investment bureaus allocate land inside PAs for investment. Parks are insecure and unstable, remote areas receive little support and are virtually uncontrolled. Many PAs have lost much of the biodiversity they were established to protect. They are heavily utilised by people and their livestock, some are even settled and provide little or no protection.
This situation is not surprising because like in most other African countries people and wildlife in Ethiopia are competitors for scarce land. Whether one likes it or not, the most favourite place where most rural people would like to see buffalo and antelope is in a cooking pot. Elephants, lions, hyenas, baboons and wild pigs are a nuisance to rural communities who have to live with them in the same ecosystem. One cannot blame the people. It is one thing to live in an European or American city, come to Ethiopia for holidays and watch dangerous animals from the security of a landcruiser. And it is another thing to live with them side by side, have the crops and livestock, the only food for the family, destroyed, and the grass which provides the livelihood for cattle, goats and sheep eaten by wildlife.
Legislation designed to protect the wildlife has proven very difficult to enforce under these conditions. This has led to a situation where the effectiveness of PAs – even the two ‘gazetted’ national parks Simien and Awash – has been undermined because they were never adequately secured, staffed or equipped.

Follow this link to see SDPASE on GIZ IS website click here