Even though Ethiopia does not have the large wildlife numbers of neighboring country Kenya, it nonetheless has a very remarkable flora ánd fauna. Many animals and birds are unique to Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is especially well-known for its wonderful and unique birdlife – it is a paradise for bird-lovers. Birds are numerous, diverse (862 different species), very colourful and – very important for ‘birders’: easy to spot, because Ethiopia’s natural areas are very unspoilt and quiet.
Ethiopia’s highland flora is also very exceptional – between 600 and 1400 plant species are thought to be endemic: that’s 10-20% of all Ethiopia’s flora. There is no country in Africa that has more unique species of flora. An example is the exotic Abyssinian Rose: commonly found in both the Bale Mountains and the Simien Mountains.
Major habitats – Eight major habitats can be found in Ethiopia.
Desert and semi-desert scrubland – the Dankalia region, Omo Delta and Ogaden Desert all fall into this category. Vegetation is characterised by highly drought-resistant plants, such as small trees, shrubs and grasses.
Small leaved deciduous forest – woodlands that can be found all over the country (except the West) at an altitude of 900-1900 meters. Vegetation consists of drought-tolerant shrubs, but also trees, like various types of acacia.
Broad leaved deciduous forest – these forests occur mainly in the western and north-western parts of the country. Bamboo can also be found here – in the western valleys. Elephants, buffalos and common elands exist here.
Moist evergreen forest – in the south-western and western parts of the country. They are forests consisting of tall and medium-sized trees. Since it is more tropical, the birdlife here is very colourful and abundant.
Lowland semi-evergreen forest – this is the area around Gambela. Vegetation consists of semi-evergreen trees and shrubs and also grasses. Wildlife includes elephants, giraffes and lions.
Dry evergreen montane forest and grassland – covering much of the highlands in the north, northwest, central and southern parts of the country, this habitat is home to a large number of endemic plants. Africa’s only rose, the Rosa Abyssinica is found here.
Afro-Alpine vegetation – this habitat is found in the national parks of the Bale, Guassa Plateau and Simien Mountains. Very special here is the heather, growing into large trees of up to 10 meters (instead of growing close to the ground).
Wetlands – these can occur along the Baro River and around Gambela in the west, but also in highlands and the northwest. Here fig-trees and tamarind trees grow along riverbanks. Crocodiles and hippos inhabit many rivers and the birdlife is particularly abundant here.