Ethiopia to Review Wildlife Legislation and Boost Conservation Efforts and Tourism

15 Jul 2013

image Ethiopia's Walia Ibex

Ethiopia is still one of the best kept secrets in the world for visitors to catch sight of an astonishing range of wildlife comprising 320 listed mammal species, 36 of which endemic.

“Our wildlife policy contains all modern elements of proper wildlife management,” reflected State Minister Tadelech Dalacho (Ministry of Culture and Tourism) during a recent high level review of Ethiopia’s wildlife policy and legislation held in Addis Ababa on  15th of July 2013.

She noted that the country was learning both positive and negative lessons from the implementation of its legal framework, which has been in place for the past five years. The state minister noted that it was now time to analyse the framework’s functionality in relation to the goals, vision and mission set for Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA).

Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Environmental Affairs at the House of People’s Representatives, Dr Kebede Kenchola underscored the need to revisit and critically review the existing polices and the mandates of the different actors. His Excellency, Mr Bogale Feleke, the State Minister for Social Policy, Planned Execution and Monitoring at the Prime Minister’s Office, agreed with Dr Kenchola and further emphasised the importance of considering how EWCA can play a part in strengthening the role of the regional governments in wildlife conservation.

A review meeting organised by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and EWCA in close cooperation with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) brought together stakeholders on 15th July 2013 to help ensure that Ethiopia’s biodiversity, ecosystems and ecological processes will effectively be safeguarded from human-induced pressures, and are represented in a sustainable protected area system that can significantly contribute to the economic development of Ethiopia.

Participants of the review meeting discussed the recommendations and suggested further improvements to a study on ‘Gap Analysis and Revision of the Policy and Legal Framework of Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority and Regions’ that was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.  The participants also spoke of increasing the coordination between relevant stakeholders and potentially establishing an advisory body or other forms of fostering a stronger dialog between with all parties. The possibility of further promoting and enhancing public participation and information sharing, amending the procedures for declaring endangered species, creating a flexible fee structure for park entrance fees, and updating the penalty structure for wildlife offenses  was also discussed. The review meeting was concluded with the decision to further amend the report and to continue the dialogue on the next steps for up-scaling the efforts for legal revisions in the wildlife legislation.

Protected Area

Extreme weather is costing trillions of dollars and endangering lives and livelihoods all around the world UN Secretary General Ban Kii Moon recently during an online discussion he had with youth delegates on climate change.

The situation is said to be especially critical for Africa where thousands died last year and millions more lost their homes and livelihoods due to droughts and floods. Severe water stress is also expected to affect millions in Africa, and failed rains are also likely to cause extensive crop damage meaning less food for more people.

Protected areas can serve as natural buffers against climate impacts and other disasters by providing space for floodwaters to disperse, stabilizing soil against landslides and blocking storm surges. They can also keep natural resources healthy and productive so they can withstand future impacts of climate change and continue to provide the food, clean water, shelter and income communities rely upon for survival.

The Ethiopian government is working to unlock the potential of protected areas so that they are effectively managed and sustainably financed, and contribute to sustainable development. Ethiopia’s commitment to promoting sustainable development has been demonstrated by the move to set up EWCA for handling the management and sustainable utilization of natural resources in protected areas; steadily increasing the institution’s yearly budget from 6 to 21 million birr from 2009 to 2012; and showing strong commitment in restoring the Simien mountains’ national park and preserving its status as one of UNESCO world heritage sites all bear testament to.

UNDP is assisting the government through the Sustainable Development of Protected Area Project financed by a GEF grant to strengthen the management and financing of protected areas and promoting co-management with local communities to maximize effectiveness and economic benefits. Large-scale rehabilitation projects can further create work opportunities; and conservation and rehabilitation of natural ecosystems will, likewise, contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Expanding protected area coverage and involving local communities in these efforts could be one of the most effective ways to reinforce nature’s and people’s resilience to climate change. Expansion of protected areas could also increase tourism revenues, business development and job opportunities in Ethiopia,” said Bettina Woll, UNDP Ethiopia’s Deputy Country Director for Programmes at the review meeting.

She underlined UNDP’s commitment to be part of the process to revise Ethiopia’s wildlife policy and said that the agency’s support would focus capacity development, provision of strategic and technical assistance, and facilitating partnerships.

Ethiopia’s updated legislation on wildlife conservation is expected to facilitate the creation of one common framework, enhance the management of protected areas, and build a prosperous tourism sector in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s Endemic Mammals and Birds

  • gelada baboon,
  • Walia ibex,
  • Menelik’s bushbuck
  • The mountain nyala
  • Swayne’s hartebeest
  • Simien fox.

Well over 860 species of birds are listed in  Ethopia of which 18 varieties are endemic to Ethiopia, such as the Abyssinian catbird, the Rouget’s rail, the white-cheeked turaco and the Heuglin’s bustard.