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Safaridude

Ethiopia Now!

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Safaridude

Following a week spent in Zakouma National Park, Chad (http://www.safaritalk.net/topic/19582-even-a-better-sequel-a-pictorial-zakouma-tr/), I traveled to Ethiopia to do essentially the same trip I had done back in 2013 (http://www.safaritalk.net/topic/10388-uganda-and-ethiopia-feb-2013-murchison-falls-senkelle-bale-mountain-and-awash/).

 

In six years, much has changed in Ethiopia.  Addis is now a mega-city, still somehow expanding at a rapid pace.  The human population continues to grow unabated, and while protected areas still function (some barely), human footprint is right up against their doorsteps (or in some cases, inside the protected areas).  It is inexplicable that despite all this, the endemic species that fascinate and draw us are still easy to encounter in Ethiopia.  How long will wild Ethiopia last?  That is the million dollar question.  In my opinion, if you are keen to see the endemic fauna of Ethiopia, take no chances.  Go now.

 

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One of the many craggy hills of the Web Valley, Bale Mountains National Park

 

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Augur buzzard on the Web Valley.  Some of the augur buzzards in Bale appear in melanistic form.

 

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The blue-winged goose is endemic to the Ethiopian highlands.  However, they are locally common.  There are a few spots in Bale and even outside of the

park itself where one can expect to see them.

 

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A horse belonging to the local Oromo people (Web Valley area of Bale).

 

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The Web Valley has a good population of Ethiopian wolves.  The wolves have recovered well from the disease outbreak a couple of years ago.  All of the 

Ethiopian wolf photos were taken from the Web Valley area of Bale.

 

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A wolf pup surveying his grounds.

 

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It's early morning play time for the pups.

 

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One of the pups was very curious about us and approached close.

 

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An adult wolf with a rodent kill.

 

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Like other wolves, these wolves are highly social.

 

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The wattled ibis is also endemic to the Ethiopian highlands and also locally common (Gaysay, Bale).

 

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Mountain nyala bull in the Gaysay grassland.  Gaysay and Dinsho are best places in Bale to observe these magnificent animals.  Mountain nyala was one

of the last large African mammals to be recorded by the West.  This speaks of how undiscovered the highlands of Ethiopia was until fairly recently.

 

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The Harena Forest area of Bale.

 

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The Wabe Shebelle Gorge.  There are three deep gorges in this area, which offer stunning views and possible glimpses of Hamadrayas baboons and

greater kudus.

 

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Soemmerring's gazelle in Halledeghe National Park.  Previously "Alledeghe" or "Alledeghi" or some other derivation, it is now "Halledeghe".  Intrusions by

the local pastoralists have increased since my last visit in 2013.  The area, however, has huge potential for tourism.  The scenery is absolutely unbelievable,

and it is probably the only area in Ethiopia that could continue to sustain a viable population of Grevy's zebras.  I did see a couple of small herds of them.

 

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A group of Soemmerring's gazelle on the run (Halledeghe).

 

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A northern carmine bee-eater hitching a ride from an Arabian bustard.  Apparently, this behavior allows the bee-eater to efficiently hunt insects that are

fleeing from the bustard.

 

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A lone beisa oryx bull (Halledeghe).  There were noticeably fewer oryxes at Halledeghe compared to six years ago.  Also, a large population in the nearby

Awash National Park has dwindle to a handful, as Awash has fallen into disrepair.  A short morning visit to Awash was a disappointment.  It is hoped that

the Ethiopian authorities act quickly to take back Awash, as Awash and Halledeghe are still ecologically connected and offer a huge contiguous wild area.

 

Edited by Safaridude

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Atravelynn

"In my opinion, if you are keen to see the endemic fauna of Ethiopia, take no chances.  Go now."

This comment saddens me.  Your initial scenery shot is is a unique perspective of Bale, other-wordly.  Great sightings!

I did take your advice and went 2x in 2 years!

Edited by Atravelynn

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michael-ibk

Great to see this report, I also loved my Ethiopian trip. But sadly I have to agree, the thought of "How much longer will wildlife be around" often went through my head. The government does not seem to really appreciate their natural treasures, Awash seemed to be on its last legs already then. And there was much talk about a Bale Mountains management plan but I´ve never heard of anything coming out of that. But great to hear the Wolves have bounced back, some hope there at least. Funny about the Carmine hitching the Bustard, I observed the same thing with Southern Carmine and Kori in Savuti and the Robert´s App stated that behaviour is only observed there. When I posted the picture on the African Bird Club group on FB someone posted a Northern Carmine on an Arab too, so they must do it there regularly as well.

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pault

Always nice to see all the things I missed in my too-short visit. Some quite special stuff and I too am of course sad some of it might not last too much longer.. especially sad that you can see the difference in 6 years - that is bad.

 

@michael-ibk Northern Carmine on an Arab??? Is this birding terminology or some kind of Middle Eastern Long John Silver thing? 

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optig

@Safaridude I saw something tragic last year when I went to visit Halledeghe with @Sangeeta and @SafariChick that there is no source of water within the reserve thus all the wildlife has to cross the highway to get to the hunting concession to get to the pond located in the hunting concession. Obviously many of the animals are killed by the passing trucks and other vehicles.They are also a easy target for the hunters in the concession. There needs to be a minimum of one borehole within the Halledeghe concession or I can see no future for the wildlife.

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kittykat23uk

Ethiopia is still on my list of places to go. some wonderful images there. I love that bee-eater riding on the bustard. Sad to hear of the degradation of the environment, I hope people wake up to its potential and do something to reverse the decline. However I am pleased to hear the wolves have recovered for now. :) 

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michael-ibk
3 hours ago, pault said:

Northern Carmine on an Arab??? Is this birding terminology or some kind of Middle Eastern Long John Silver thing? 

 

I don´t want to know what exactly was conjured up in your mind, @pault, I was referring to the Arabian Bustard. B)

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Safaridude

@michael-ibk

 

It is my understanding that the northern carmine bee-eater/Arabian bustard thing happens in Halledeghe regularly.

 

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Safaridude

@optig

 

I strongly suspect that there are some natural springs at the base of the mountains on the eastern edge of Halledeghe.  It is true that the main plains area has no standing water during the dry season and that the closest source of water is across the main road.  Most animals have learned to cross the road at night to drink there (during the day, livestock and people crowd out the wildlife anyway).  Oryx and Sommerring's gazelle do not require water, but oryx will drink when water is available.  Grevy's zebras require water, and I don't know exactly where they drink (again, I suspect there is water at the base of those mountains).

 

I personally think that putting in a borehole inside the park would be a huge mistake, as it would simply increase the number of livestock.  In fact, I actually saw what looked like a new borehole (maybe only 1km from the main road and inside the park... which is very strange... but everything about Halledeghe is strange).  The area (again, inside the park) had been grazed to a nub.

 

Dessert-adapted animals generally don't die of thirst.  They die from the lack of food.

 

 

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kittykat23uk
2 hours ago, Safaridude said:

@optig

 

Dessert-adapted animals generally don't die of thirst.  They die from the lack of food.

 

 

Indeed, lack of cheesecake, ice cream and other puddings can be fatal to such animals.... ;) 

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Safaridude

@kittykat23uk

 

Hahahahahaha!

 

Speaking for myself, I am supremely dessert-adapted.

 

 

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Game Warden

Sublime photography as ever @Safaridude Now, just how good was the food?

 

Matt

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Safaridude

Great desert desserts.

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optig

Thank you so much for your information,I stand corrected about the need to put a borehole in Halledeghe as  always  I respect your knowledge,insights,writing ability and fantastic photos.I am glad to see that you are back in Safaritalk.   

 

I could see from the road that Awash National Park is a complete and total basket case.Its been the victim of years of mismanagement,apathy and is totally overrun by cattle.                                                             

Edited by optig

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SafariChick

Thanks for this report @Safaridude - I feel lucky to have seen the wolves at Bale though not in the Web Valley, and I'd like to get to that area if I can get back there.  Did you camp with a guide when you were there? Also, how did you get down there? The drive down from Addis was pretty brutal, I found!  

 

Yes, Halledeghe (I didn't know there was an H in it, I was spelling it differently) was a frustrating place.  Hopefully you're right that most of the animals that need to drink go to drink at night.  Interesting that there could be water at the base of the mountains. 

 

 

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Safaridude

Thank you @SafariChick

 

Yes, Squack Evans guided me (in Zakouma as well), and the Ethiopian ground operator was Wild Expeditions.  There is a flight now from Addis to Robe (very close to Bale Mountains National Park), but the route is flown only 3-4 times a week.  Unfortunately, the dates didn't match, so we drove from Addis.  I must say the drive wasn't so bad.

 

The "H" in Halledeghe was only recently added by "them".  It also became a national park recently (formerly it was a "wildlife reserve"), declared by "them", without much fanfare.  But in terms of law enforcement, nothing seems to have changed.  The area has so much potential.  It is tantalizing to think about what it could become.

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Botswanadreams

@Safaridude do you know is Halledeghe now declared as National Park by the Central government or only by the Afar administrative region government how it was in 2017. Do you got any information about the Somali Wild Ass as you were there?  

Edited by Botswanadreams

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Safaridude

@Botswanadreams

 

I don't know which body declared Halledeghe as national park.

 

The Somali wild ass does not occur in Halledeghe.  It is reputed to still occur in Yangudi Rassa, which is further north of Halledeghe.

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Zim Girl

Beautiful picture of the Wabe Shebelle Gorge @Safaridude - really enjoying this report.

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travelingteachrz

Well done, sir. I live here and have likewise photographed amazing things.

 

Have you photographed the lions, leopards, caracals, or servals yet? I'll be posting in a few months about those opportunities.

 

Here is my own video of the wolves: Link here

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Safaridude

@travelingteachrz

 

If you mean in Ethiopia, I have photographed a serval back in 2013 in the Web Valley.  As for the other animals, not in Ethiopia.

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travelingteachrz
6 hours ago, Safaridude said:

@travelingteachrz

 

If you mean in Ethiopia, I have photographed a serval back in 2013 in the Web Valley.  As for the other animals, not in Ethiopia.

Yes, there are servals in the Web Valley. That's great that you got such a sighting. Typically in the Web Valley, people are on horseback or on foot. Were you trekking? 

 

Yes, as I'm sure you already know, there are elephant, cheetah, hartebeest, lion, oryx, nyala, buffalo, giraffe, kudu, leopard (black leopard too), and so many more incredible animals here. Very few know about this.

Edited by travelingteachrz

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