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Wildlife under threat of extinction

Ethiopia is in imminent danger of losing its rare wildlife, the national Institute of Biodiversity Conservation and Research (ICBR) has warned.

At least four mammals and two bird species are facing extinction, the Ethiopian-based wildlife institute said. According to experts the Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf, mountain nyala and Grevy zebras as well as the white-winged fluff tail and Ankober Serin bird species are all threatened.

The institute said there are only 514 Walia ibex, less than 2,000 mountain nyala and 800 Grevy zebras. Wildlife experts say the rare species – all of which are endemic to Ethiopia - need a population of around 2,500 to survive.

“Unless we start doing something and enhance their conservation they could definitely disappear,” said Dr Abebe Demissie, general manager at the IBCR.

A further nine big mammal species and 14 bird species are also vulnerable, according to the institute.

The IBCR says that the massive deforestation in Ethiopia is one of the primary reasons for declining wildlife species in the country.

“At the turn of the century we had something like 35 percent of forests in the country,” Dr Abebe told IRIN. “Now the forests have been degraded to such a level that we have only 2.7 percent. This has a major implication on the wildlife. If the forests are gone the wildlife goes. At the turn of the century you would see lions around Addis Ababa."

He stressed that the loss of forests not only drives wildlife away but also affects the climate of the region and water preservation. “It has a huge socio-economic impact. It is a very
serious problem.”

The IBCR says the international community needs to recognise the dangers that Ethiopia faces and offer financial support. “We should be prepared to reverse the trend now in terms of forest degradation, in terms of loss of wildlife,” Abebe said.

“The bottom line is poverty really. If you alleviate the poverty scale in this country you will definitely have an impact in terms of conservation,” he added.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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