Yabello National Park
Yabello National Park lies 565 Km south of Addis Ababa on the Awasa-Moyale highway. It is 10km east of Yabello town in Borena Zone, Oromia Regional State. It was primarily set up to protect and conserve the Swayne’s Hartbeest, Alcelaphus buselaphus, swaynii, and endemic Hartbeest. While the average elevation throughout is 1700 masl, it can range from 1400 to 2000 masl. Areas around Yabello receive an annual rainfall of around 700 mm. The main rainy season extends from April to May. Shorter and less reliable rains occur during October. Mean annual temperature is 190C with a mean minimum and maximum of 13 and 250C, respectively. High temperature is usually recorded from January to February. The dominant vegetation community is savannah with different woody and herbaceous plants. The major trees are Acacia drepanalobium, Abrevispica, and A. horida. Lower altitudes exhibit Balanties aegyptiaca and Commiphora-Terminalia Vegetation mixtures. Juniperus procera and Olea europea subsp cuspidate forests used to cover most of the hills in the past. Remnant forest trees can still be observed around the hills surrounding Yabello even today. The Borena pastoralists are the dominant tribe here and they still practice pastoralism in the range lands of Borena. The park is important for a number of mammals as well as rare bird species. At least 210 species of birds have been recorded of which 62 are Somali-Masai Biome species. Mammal species include Swayne’s Hartebeest, Burchell’s Zebra, Gerenuk, Grant’s gazelle and Guenther’s Dik-Dik.
The park affords protection to the endemic Swayne’s Hartebeest and is the home of the endemic and vulnerable Ethiopian Bush Crow and White-tailed Swallow are also restricted-range species. Other non-endemic but globally threatened species includes the Taita Falcon. With 62 Somali-Masai Biome birds, the site affords protection to 64% of Ethiopia’s Somali-Masai Biome assemblage. Other interesting birds found here include Ostrich, Short-tailed Larck, Pringle’s puff-back, Northern Grey Tit, Abyssinian Grosbeak Canary, Vulturine Guinea Fowl, Somali Sparrow, Black-capped social Weaver, Donaldson-Smith Nightjar, Star-spotted Nightjar, Grey-headed Social Weaver and Magpie Starling. The site is good for Burchell’s Zebra and smaller numbers of Grant’s gazelle and Gerenuk.