|Gambella National Park|
|Written by Media A2|
|Tuesday, 03 January 2006|
Gambella National Park is in the centre of Gambella Region. It lies between the Baro and Gilo rivers, the Baro River forming the northern boundary, 15 km south of Gambella town. The centre of the park, Abobo, is 82 km south of Gambella town. The park is the largest protected area in Ethiopia.
The general topography is flat with some areas of higher ground where deciduous woodland and savanna occur. The higher areas are often rocky with large termite mounds. The park also supports extensive areas of wet grassland and swamps with grasses growing over 3 m tall. Other important habitats include the rivers, their banks and the oxbow lakes. Traditionally, the Anuakand Abigar (Nuer) peoples who live in the area graze their animals throughout the park, grow a few crops on the riverbanks and hunt for game-meat. Presently many refugees from southern Sudan have moved into the park, and some of the settlements set up for the highland people brought to the Gambella plains after the 1984?1985 drought and famine have remained populated.
More than 230 species have been recorded in the park. Balaeniceps rex was recorded in the early 1960s, 20 km west of Gambella. There are recent anecdotal reports of the species breeding in the Abobo area, suggesting that it may be present seasonally in swamps within the park. Acrocephalus griseldis was recorded regularly between 1969 and 1976, but its current status is unknown. Sudan?Guinea Savanna biome species include: Merops bulocki, Eremomela pusilla, Cisticola ruficeps, C. troglodytes, Plocepasser superciliosus, Lagonosticta larvata and Vidua interjecta, the last-named being known in Ethiopia only from around Gambella. Three Afrotropical Highlands and four Somali?Masai biome species have been recorded. Other species include Platalea leucorodia (rarely recorded from the south and west of Ethiopia), Kaupifalco monogrammicus (little-known in Ethiopia), Campethera cailliautii and Acrocephalus melanopogon. The only Ethiopian record of Vanellus crassirostris is from Gambella.
This Park was proposed to help protect the diverse and abundant wildlife, particularly the thousands of White eared Kob that migrated to and from the park each year. Even though proposals to set up this conservation area have been planned since 1973, there has been almost no development activity. The area proposed is very large and the available infrastructure is completely inadequate to manage it effectively. Excessive hunting seriously affects the larger mammals in the area. The civil war in Sudan has made firearms readily available and large numbers of refugees have moved into the park. Local people traditionally use bush-meat, and formerly hunted only with spears, traps, etc. Now both the local and commercial hunters use rifles and automatic weapons. The woodlands and forests within the park are being cut, with the wood sold in Gambella town for construction and fuel. Visitors have reported a noticeable reduction in the woody vegetation both inside and outside the park. The park is frequently burnt: the fires are started when the ground is still moist to control the long grass and thus open up access to the new growth for cattle to graze. The biggest threat to the park is the Alwero dam and the proposed expansion of irrigated farms to areas currently inside the park.
Tags: Ethiopia Nature National Park Gambella Natural Bird