email a friend
printable version
Location Ethiopia, Oromiya
Central coordinates 39o 4.14' East  8o 41.70' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 24,000 ha
Altitude 1,800 - 1,900m
Year of IBA assessment 1996

Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society

Site description Chelekleka is a seasonally inundated pan, the western and south-western sides of which form the periphery of Debre Zeit town. Debre Zeit is in East Shewa Zone, 50 km west of the zonal capital, Nazaret. Chelekleka is in a shallow pan into which fresh water seeps and flows from the surrounding cultivated slopes. Water fills the muddy depression during the rainy season and persists well into the dry season. The two highland ranges of Teltele and Sofa, on the north-eastern side of the swamp, are the main catchments for Chelekleka. Because of its shallow nature, the lake’s shoreline is wide. The size of the inundated area varies dramatically from year to year, although recently the size of the swamp has been reduced through the construction of flood-control dykes in the feeder streams, and channeling run-off from the town into Bishoftu lake (site ET032). The swamp is relatively rich in aquatic vegetation, with Typha spp., sedges, rushes, Potamogeton spp., Persicaria spp. and the floating grass Odontelytrum abyssinicum. The area around the lake is intensively used. As the waters retreat, peasant farmers cultivate vegetables on the rich alluvial soils left behind on its northern and eastern sides, and it is not uncommon to see some cultivation throughout the year. A thriving private citrus farm exists on the lake’s southern side. This wetland is also an important watering point for cattle in the area. Debre Zeit is an important town (see site ET032).

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. This lake is important for the large concentrations of waterfowl that it supports on a seasonal basis, including a substantial wintering population Grus grus that is assumed to be part of a larger population wintering in the Debre Zeit, Koka and Akaki area. Chelekleka supports, along with the other Debre Zeit lakes, a wintering population of 10–15 Aythya nyroca. Numbers of Phoenicopterus minor present on the lake are known to fluctuate unpredictably. Circus macrourus is fairly common on spring and autumn passage, with small numbers overwintering. Aquila heliaca and Aquila pomarina have been reported during autumn migration. A survey in February 1996 recorded substantial numbers of waterbirds, including Tachybaptus ruficollis (150+), Bubulcus ibis (1,800+), Phoenicopterus minor (3,000+), Alopochen aegyptiacus (1,000+), Plectropterus gambensis (250+), Fulica cristata (300+), Philomachus pugnax (500+), Anas acuta (300+), Anas querquedula (200+), Anas clypeata (500+) and Netta erythrophthalma (150+), as well as smaller numbers of Nettapus auritus and Thalassornis leuconotus. There is one record of Vanellus leucurus from Chelekleka.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  3-5 individuals  A1  Near Threatened 
Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor non-breeding  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus passage  frequent  A1  Near Threatened 
Common Crane Grus grus winter  1996  2,500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   100%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
water management -

References Belay et al. (1986), Brook Lemma (1994), Ministry of Natural Resources Development (1995), Mohr (1961), Talling and Wood (1988).

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Chelekleka lake and swamp. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife