email a friend
printable version
Location Ethiopia, Oromiya
Central coordinates 39o 4.74' East  8o 23.52' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 18,000 ha
Altitude 1,750 m
Year of IBA assessment 1996

Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society

Site description Koka dam and Lake Gelila are on the Awash river in East Shewa Zone, 75 km south-east of Addis Ababa. The road to the dam is a 10-km track to the south of the main Mojo–Nazaret road. The shores of Lake Gelila can be reached via the Great Rift Valley road from Mojo to Meki, which passes over the Awash river about 20 km south of Mojo. Koka dam was built to provide hydroelectric power and came into operation in 1960. The resulting freshwater lake, Lake Gelila, has an area of c.180 km², and originally had a storage capacity of 1,850 million m3, although sedimentation has reduced this by 35%. The other main habitats are the surrounding farmland, an area of partly protected woodland beside the dam site, and the river and hot-spring area below the dam. Lake Gelila and its shoreline used to be fairly clear of vegetation, but Eichhornia crassipes has invaded the area and is spreading rapidly. As a result of crop cultivation the only large trees that are left in the area are figs, e.g. Ficus vasta and a few others generally associated with churches or other ceremonial places. The main activity in the area is farming and the most widely grown crop is Eragrostis tef. The farmers using the alluvial soil around the lake also grow horticultural crops and pulses, particularly haricot beans.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Falco naumanni and Circus macrourus occur on spring and autumn passage, the latter fairly commonly. Numbers of Phoenicopterus minor fluctuate unpredictably. Several thousand Grus grus overwinter on the adjacent open plain and arable farmland. Acrocephalus griseldis was recorded regularly in small numbers between 1969 and 1976. Other species include Phoenicopterus ruber, Recurvirostra avosetta and Charadrius asiaticus. Larus cachinnans and L. ichthyaetus occur in small numbers, while tens of thousands of Motacilla flava and Hirundo rustica use the site. In addition, one species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome has been recorded at this site (see Table 3).

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
Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor winter  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus passage  frequent  A1  Near Threatened 
Common Crane Grus grus winter  1969-1976  1,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Basra Reed-warbler Acrocephalus griseldis passage  1996  present  A1  Endangered 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   20%
Wetlands (inland)   79%

Land use

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

References Halcrow and Partners (1989a, b).

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: Koka dam and Lake Gelila. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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