Beyond the mountains, in far West Ethiopia is one of the country’s lesser-known treasures Gambella National Park. Which was created in 1973, 5000 square km of the landscape, that teams with wildlife. But over the years the parks boundaries and the wildlife within it were gradually encroached upon, so Ethiopia’s Wildlife Conservation Authority decided to protect and developing and marks boundaries. In the long run, properly managed Gambella National Park could be a major National asset.
Ethiopia has over 20 National Parks and four animal sanctuaries. These protected areas are at present undergoing a major review, and Gambela is causing most excitement on the region. Share an important border with the Republic of South Sudan; A fact that is at the heart of the plans for developing the park. According to the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, the plan is to establish a peace park between South Sudan and Ethiopia, so that the wild animals can easily move from one country to another country.
Marriage in the management of two adjoining National parks would help to preserve the counting and flow of wildlife between them. viewed on one level as one of a renewable resource with commercial possibilities Gambella National Park has a potential for development in an increasing popular area, Eco-tourism.
The ecology in Gambella National Park is diverse and exceptionally diverse, with ancient forest wetlands, and Savanna grassland is home to a wide variety of wildlife. It is almost a crime not to share it to the rest of the world.
The secret of this remote wilderness remain hidden, but Ethiopia’s Wildlife Conservation Authority believes, its a matter of time before the special magic of Gambella is more widely known and tourism revenue from a properly managed park is able to fund its upkeep.
The Baro River is a lifeblood of Gambella. It flows from Gambella into South Sudan, eventually to join up with Nile River. The waters of the Baro river are at the heart of life in both the region and the region bustling Capital, the city of Gambela. Located in a backstreet of this lively market town, where a few outsiders set a foot; and tourism is virtually unknown, the regional office of Yuka, Ethiopia’s Wildlife Conservation Authority. It’s from here the Gambella National Park is managed and remnants of some of its regular inhabitants are on its display. Over the years some species have diminished in numbers but others are thriving as the park warden explains “the main species here in Gambella are White-eared Kob, Nile lechwe, buffalo, roan antelope, tiang, giraffe, reedbuck, warthog, and elephants are the main species.”
With just a total of 30 scouts in the field and just two operational vehicles, the park team is expected to patrol and monitor thousands of square kilometers of parkland. Protecting and preserving it against all eventualities. It’s a tall order, yet even when power cuts make the printer useless and fridge a luxury too far, the team remains firmly connected to the task at hand.
At one time an indifference to the value of wildlife was born of ignorance, today in Gambella confined into history. Under a new management and a new vision what has been a paper park for over 40 years is being transformed into the properly managed protected area; In effect the birth of Gambella National Park.
Deciding precisely where it should be and what shape is the first priorities. A field study by experts has suggested that an area 4,000 square kilometers size stretching to the border of South Sudan is the optimum shape for the park.
One of Yuka’s main supporters is the Horn of Africa Environment center based in Addis Ababa University. Dr. Araya Asfaw is its director, he said: “wildlife conservation of the eco-system conservation industries requires the cooperation of the two governments and also requires the active role of the community-based organizations, that are working in this region.”
The yuka-Horik partnership works well and there is a social concern in there directly woven plans of action that reflect a holistic approach to conservation. According to Dr.Asfaw, they have to deal with the issue of livelihood; How the people in that region benefit from wildlife conservation. In Gambella, the livelihood and the landscape are inextricably linked, with water the indispensable major resource.
Like the animals in the wild, fishermen, farmers, and herders rely totally on rainfall, and the rivers that deliver it. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of water. But in some area, there is a computation both traditional and newly emerging for land. Dr. Asfaw says, “there are issues of agricultural expansion in the region, so we try to have the scientific data on how to balance nature conservation with the development.
To achieve this the US researcher Sanne Van Aarst and task works of experts commissioned to make a comprehensive ecological study of the region. Sanne Van Aarst says “we feel now is a good time to integrate different land-use options before one is considered and other land-use options are compromised forever.
In the following weeks, aspects of local life that impact on the flora and fauna of the Gambella landscape came under the close scrutiny of the task force. And some major discoveries about migratory animals like the white-eared cobb astonished everyone. Each year at least a quarter of a million of these graceful antelopes cross from South Sudan into Ethiopia and back again. It’s the second largest mammal migration in Africa after the famous wildebeest migration of the Serengeti.
The mass migration of white-eared cob is by no means all that Gambella to offer. endangered species like the Nile Lech way share a home in the park magnificent shoe build store, whose graceful flight belies the absurdly on aerodynamic shape of its head. These are just two remarkable creature on a wide spectrum of wildlife that has made Gambella home.
Accurately surveying, the complex environment pictures of Gambella for conservation expert Howard Frederic, successfully profiled the ecology of many wilderness landscapes and given the right date Howard’s computer will do the same for Gambella. Thanks to the South Sudan program of Wildlife Conservation Society pilot Mr. Rosemond, a veteran conservationist flew the team on two sorties a day for nearly a month. Specialist observers on board noted and collated the diversity of the wildlife below.
The numbers are impressive, there is a ton of wildlife, there is so much of whited cob. They are spread over a very large area, and it moved up into some areas of the further east and south. It’s very important for the researchers to find out where these migratory species are going in order to figure out where these migratory species going to.
The researchers found the spot, it was an amazing find. These wildebeest are getting to the edge of the amazing Baro swamp. There is a good herd of Buffaloes, over 250 in a group of six herds, a group of 160 each way, which is the biggest herd anybody ever heard of. All the animals in this landscape are dependent on access to water and certain kind of resources. What amazes the most for those researchers is the group of Rowan, which usually seen five or six together, but in this case, the researchers found over seventy in just one group; It is amazing for those who witnessed it.
Other Species such as elephants, in some areas there’s plenty of elephants evidence on the ground. when the Gambella task force produced its first draft report; its finding suggested the possibility of a win-win situation for all parties involved.
According to Sanne Van Aarde, there is an incredible opportunity to integrate the different land use options including commercial farming, fisheries, and different forms of protected lands community conservation area. The possibilities of integrated land use are music to the ears of those, who must help to feed the country. One of them happens to be Wondirad Mandefro, Ethiopia’s Minister of Agriculture. According to him its the country’s main concern to conserve the environment so that all development, particularly agriculture development is in compliance with the current climate change, and current water conservation.
It seems there’s no practical reason, why conservationist, agriculturalists, farmers, herders, and investors cannot each have a stake in Gambella rich land, and move forward together in a planned way. In a country, that is just beginning to realize how much natural beauty and unique wildlife it actually has, ecotourism is becoming a very attractive commercial proposition.
Ethiopia is behind its African neighbors as a popular destination on the eco-tourist trail. And Gambella is far behind the rest of the country, where ancient cities and historic monuments pulling the visitors. But there is here the opportunity to exploit the natural advantage. Times are changing fast and in the current struggle to combat global warming and climate change, green business is good business. Investing in nature and renewable has popular support on the world stage. There are several eco-tourism lodges in Ethiopia. They are always sited at prime locations surrounded by the best that the country to offer and more being developed.
By definition, the wilderness area is usually difficult to access and so remote area like Gambella need the right infrastructure to become more readily accessible. And that is precisely what is happening right now. Things are moving a pace to put the region firmly in touch with the outside world. Ethiopia is taking a bold investment building the road that connects Gambella to the rest of the country.