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Location Ethiopia, Afar,Oromiya
Central coordinates 40o 2.10' East  8o 54.90' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 74,000 ha
Altitude 750 - 2,007m
Year of IBA assessment 1996

Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society



Site description Awash National Park lies either side of the main Addis Ababa–Assab highway between the towns of Metahara and Awash Station. Most of the park, including the headquarters, is in Arsi Zone of Oromiya Region, but a northern section extends into Afar Region. The headquarters are 95 km east of Nazaret and 225 km east of Addis Ababa. Fantalle mountain, a semi-dormant (but still smoking) volcano rising to 2,007 m, dominates the northern half of the park. The mountain is bounded by the Sabober plains (at about 900 m) to the west, the Addis Ababa–Assab highway and Awash river to the south and east, and the Filwoha springs and Kesem river to the north. Awash National Park is in one of the most geologically active regions of the world. The results of eruptions from Fantalle mountain dominate the park landscape. Lava-flows, cinder cones, deep fissures, steam vents and other volcanic features can be seen throughout. Recent volcanic activity has resulted in the eruption of fresh lava from several fissures, and one such lava-flow crosses the main highway near Lake Beseka. Grassland, savanna and shrubland dominate the park. Grasslands are found within the crater and on the slopes of Fantalle mountain as well as on the surrounding plains. Inside the crater and on the crater rim the dominant grass is the tall tussocks of Cymbopogon sp., intermixed with small shrubs including a Lavandula sp., a favourite food of the endemic Serinus flavigula. The perennial tussock-grass Chrysopogon plumulosus, a highly palatable and important species for domestic and wild grazing animals, dominates all the remaining grassland areas. Much of the grassland in the north and west of the park is overgrazed, resulting in up to 50% bare soil and rock and the domination of invasive, unpalatable species such as needle grass Aristida spp. Lowland Acacia spp. (A. tortilis, A. senegal, A. nilotica) and Balanites aegyptiaca are the most common of the large trees in the savanna, while the shrubby and very spiny small Acacia spp. (A. nubica and A. mellifera) dominate overgrazed areas. Shrubby areas around the grassland are more mixed with some Acacia, Grewia spp., Psiadia incana and Vernonia sp. The riverine forest supports figs, Dobera glabra and Syzygium guineense, which have large fruits attracting many birds and mammals. The Filwoha hot springs are surrounded by an almost pure stand of Hyphaene thebaica with Sporobolus consimilis and S. spicatus on the saline soil. On the nearby lava-flows are several trees of the Somali–Masai restricted species, Moringa peregrina. In the early 1970s, Lake Beseka covered only 3.3 km². By 1990 it measured 35 km² with a maximum depth of 10–12 m. This recent steady increase has required the road and rail lines on the lake’s northern side to be raised several times, and historically the lake has expanded to more than 10 times its present size. The present increase has been attributed to an inflow of fresh water from irrigation and rainwater run off. Details of the park’s vegetation, birds and socio-economics are documented in Jacobs and Schloeder (1993).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Trachyphonus darnaudii resident  1996  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Black-throated Barbet Tricholaema melanocephala resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-and-yellow Barbet Trachyphonus erythrocephalus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-necked Francolin Pternistis leucoscepus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni passage  1996  present  A1  Least Concern 
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus passage  1996  9 individuals  poor  A1  Near Threatened 
Eastern Chanting-goshawk Melierax poliopterus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Heuglin's Bustard Neotis heuglinii resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Buff-crested Bustard Lophotis gindiana resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-faced Sandgrouse Pterocles decoratus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-bellied Parrot Poicephalus rufiventris resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-bellied Go-away-bird Criniferoides leucogaster resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sombre Nightjar Caprimulgus fraenatus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Star-spotted Nightjar Caprimulgus stellatus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Somali Bee-eater Merops revoilii resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-billed Woodhoopoe Phoeniculus somaliensis resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Abyssinian Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus minor resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill Tockus flavirostris resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Von der Decken's Hornbill Tockus deckeni resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Hemprich's Hornbill Lophoceros hemprichii resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Rosy-patched Bush-shrike Rhodophoneus cruentus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Somali Fiscal Lanius somalicus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Mouse-coloured Penduline-tit Anthoscopus musculus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Gillett's Lark Mirafra gilletti resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-winged Lark Mirafra hypermetra resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chestnut-headed Sparrow-lark Eremopterix signatus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Boran Cisticola Cisticola bodessa resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Ashy Cisticola Cisticola cinereolus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey Wren-warbler Camaroptera simplex resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-vented Eremomela Eremomela flavicrissalis resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Scaly Chatterer Turdoides aylmeri resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Rufous Chatterer Turdoides rubiginosa resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-rumped Babbler Turdoides leucopygia resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-breasted White-eye Zosterops abyssinicus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Shelley's Starling Lamprotornis shelleyi resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Golden-breasted Starling Cosmopsarus regius resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-crowned Starling Spreo albicapillus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Somali Starling Onychognathus blythii resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bristle-crowned Starling Onychognathus salvadorii resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Brown-tailed Chat Cercomela scotocerca resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sombre Chat Cercomela dubia resident  1996  present  A1, A2, A3  Data Deficient 
African Grey Flycatcher Bradornis microrhynchus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kenya Violet-backed Sunbird Anthreptes orientalis resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Shining Sunbird Nectarinia habessinica resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-headed Buffalo-weaver Dinemellia dinemelli resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Rueppell's Weaver Ploceus galbula resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Speke's Weaver Ploceus spekei resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Purple Grenadier Uraeginthus ianthinogaster resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Steel-blue Whydah Vidua hypocherina resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Straw-tailed Whydah Vidua fischeri resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-throated Seedeater Serinus flavigula resident  1996  present  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
White-bellied Canary Serinus dorsostriatus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Somali Golden-breasted Bunting Emberiza poliopleura resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Awash National Park 75,240 is identical to site 75,240  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   93%
Wetlands (inland)   1%
Grassland   5%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -

Other biodiversity A total of 76 mammal species (including bats) has been recorded. Alcelaphus buselaphus swaynei (EN) was reintroduced in 1974. Equus grevyi (EN) used to occur but its current status is unknown. Papio hamadryas (LR/nt) occurs, interbreeding with Papio anubis in a 5-km-long hybrid zone along the Awash river (above the Awash falls).

References Atkins and Harvey (1994, 1996), Balcha et al. (1984), Berhanu et al. (1976), Gibson (1967), Hillman (1993), Jacobs and Schloeder (1993), Madge and Redman (1989), Woodroofe and Associates (1990), Stephenson (1976).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Awash National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/08/2014

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