The Wildlife of Ethiopia
If you’ve read our blog before, you’ll know how much we love Ethiopia. The sights, sounds and smells come together to form a powerful combination which is hard to resist. Visiting Ethiopia isn’t a typical relaxing beach holiday, far from it, it’s an assault on the senses and forces you way out of your comfort zone, not something for the faint-hearted!
One of the many appeals of Ethiopia is the wildlife it is home to. Unique, certainly compared to Europe but also compared to the rest of the world. The variety is truly astounding, and although we’d love to be able to list out all 240+ species of mammal, along with the many birds that call the country home, we’ll be restrained in picking out some of the highlights of Ethiopian wildlife.
Endemic to Ethiopia, the Walia ibex is a member of the goat family and subspecies of the Alpine ibex. Most recent figures suggest there are between 800 – 1000 wild Walia ibex, mostly concentrated in the Simien Mountains in Northern Ethiopia. Their horns arch back towards their shoulders and can reach up to over a metre long. These animals are some of the planets ultimate risk-takers, living in rocky and mountainous habitats often thousands of metres high. Their dexterous, pincer-like hooves allow them to climb cliff faces and steep hilly areas with finesse and precision that is rarely seen in the animal kingdom.
Image Source: commons
As the name suggests, these canids are native to Ethiopia, more specifically the highlands of the country. They are comparative to the coyote in terms of their size and general build, however, they can be distinguished by their long, narrow skulls. These wolves are very picky eaters and tend to feed on afro-alpine rodents; both rodents and the wolves are commonly found in the Bale Mountains. The Ethiopian wolf is the most endangered of all species in Ethiopia as there are currently roughly 500 individuals in the wild.
Commonly referred to as the Gelada, this species of monkey belongs to the family of Old World monkeys and can only be found in Ethiopian highlands. The majority of the population can be found in the Simien Mountains and although it is not technically from the baboon genus, they do share similar qualities, such as being mostly terrestrial animals rather than living in trees and off-ground. They are a very populous species with roughly 200,000 living in the wild.
When thinking of Ethiopia, dunes of sand and dry, arid planes may be the first to spring to mind, perhaps not the ideal habitat for butterflies. However, like most of Ethiopia’s exotic wildlife, the vast range of butterflies, many endemic, have found a home in Northern parts of the country. This area is less populated by humans which allows the rich, biodiverse region to flourish. Researchers and experts have found over 22,000 different species of moths and butterflies living in the region, many in the Bale Mountains.
Birds, like butterflies, do not immediately spring to mind when thinking of Ethiopia, however, the country is fast becoming one of the best birding destinations. Overall, there are roughly 800 different species of bird in the country with over 20 that are unique to Ethiopia. Often these species will have brightly coloured feathers with eye-catching patterns, a true spectacle when catching a glimpse of a flock. If you’re looking to watch some birds during your time in the country, we’d suggest heading to either the Simien Mountains, Lake Shala or Lake Awasa.
Ethiopia is not a traditional safari destination, as with other countries in Africa. The country offers diverse landscapes and similarly diverse wildlife which can be seen in the less populated parts of the country. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to see the odd giraffe or elephant! The Babile Elephant Sanctuary, the country’s flagship conservation area is home to roughly 300 elephants, some of the last remaining in the horn of Africa. Additionally, there are small populations of lions scattered across the country, including some on the mountainous regions. Giraffes can also be found in the country, although numbers are currently unknown. There are two species, reticulated and Nubian, which typically are found in the southern half of the country.
Has this given you a taste of wanderlust? Fancy heading to this amazing country on one of our Ethiopia tours? Why not check out the experiences we offer or get in touch to find out more!