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Location Ethiopia, Gambella
Central coordinates 33o 37.00' East  8o 20.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 38,400 ha
Altitude 400 - 850m
Year of IBA assessment 1996

Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society

Site description The site is the course and flood-zone of the 448 km Baro river. Along with its tributaries, the river dominates Gambella Region. The Baro is the only navigable river in the country: during the rainy season traders used to travel by boat between Gambella town and Khartoum in the Sudan. The Baro meets the Pibor river to the west of Jikawo. During the rainy season the river floods to form the huge inundated area to the east and south of Jikawo, previously penetrating as far as Abobo and Gog to the east and south-east.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. In the dry season, when the Baro river is low, huge numbers of storks and other waterbirds (including pelicans, herons, egrets, etc.) gather to rest on sandbars in the river. A flock of 500 Glareola nordmanni, apparently wintering, was noted at Jikawo in January 1970. Balaeniceps rex was recorded from swamps 20 km west of Gambella in the early 1960s, and was also found 60 km west of the western perimeter of Gambella National Park, west of Gog, in 1973. There is an unconfirmed 1996 report of B. rex breeding in the vicinity of Nasir in West Nile province, Sudan, adjacent to Jikawo, and large numbers have been reported from the Baro river system in Sudan, suggesting that the species may be present on the Ethiopian side of the border close to Nasir. During March 1976, thousands of Anastomus lamelligerus were recorded between Itang and Jikawo, and similar numbers of Ciconia abdimii were found between Pukwo and Jikawo. The latter species is thought to be an irregular non-breeding visitor.

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
African Openbill Anastomus lamelligerus winter  1,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Shoebill Balaeniceps rex resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni winter  1970  500 individuals  A1  Near Threatened 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   23%
Shrubland   53%
Forest   22%

Land use

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

References Duckworth (1974a, b), Ethiopian Valleys Development Authority (1988, 1990), Urban (1967).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Baro river. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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