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Location Ethiopia, Southern Peoples' Region
Central coordinates 37o 45.84' East  5o 58.68' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 260,000 ha
Altitude 1,108 - 1,650m
Year of IBA assessment 1996

Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society



Site description Nechisar National Park is in eastern North Omo Zone. The zonal capital, Arba Minch, is on the western border of the park. Arba Minch is 279 km south-west of the regional capital Awassa and 90 km north of Konso. Nechisar is named after the white grass that covers the undulating Nechisar plains and contrasts with the black basalt rocks of the Amaro mountains to the east, and the black soils of the plains. Around 15% of the park comprises portions of Lakes Abaya to the north and Chamo to the south. The water of Lake Abaya is always brown or red-brown, in contrast with Lake Chamo which has strikingly blue water and white sandy beaches. The park also covers the neck of land between the lakes which supports groundwater forest. The Kulfo river connects the two lakes. At the foot of Mt Tabala in the south-east there are hot springs. The altitude ranges from 1,108 m at the shore of Lake Chamo to 1,650 m on Mt Kalia in the north-east. The main habitats of Nechisar National Park are the lakes, their shorelines, the groundwater forest and connecting river, the dry grassy plains, thick bushland and the wooded valleys and foothills of the Amaro mountains. Most of the park is covered in bushland, which is thick and impenetrable in places, the taller trees including Combretum spp., Dichrostachys cinerea, Acacia tortilis, Balanites aegyptiaca and occasional Acacia nilotica. In the southern part of the park, Dobera glabra and Acacia tortilis form open woodland. The grassland is edaphic, the underlying soil being calcareous black clay. The most widespread grass species is Chrysopogon aucheri. The forest between the two lakes and by the Kulfo river is dominated by Ficus sycamorus up to 30 m tall. This same area supports a number of shrubs and scramblers, but few herbs on the forest floor. The freshwater swamps at the mouth of the Kulfo river and in Lake Chamo are dominated by Typha angustifolia, tall waterside grasses, e.g. Saccharum spontaneum, and the small leguminous trees, Sesbania sesban and Aeschynomene elaphroxylon. Arba Minch is an important regional centre and meeting place for people from the southern parts of the Great Rift Valley. There is a crocodile farm near Lake Abaya. Both lakes have good populations of fish, including nile perch, and there is a small, modern fishing industry. Crocodiles thrive in Lake Chamo and are being culled commercially for their highly prized skins. The local people living on the islands and around the lakes are the Ganjule and Guji. They are variously farmers, pastoralists and fishermen. They use boats made of Aeschynomene elaphroxylon. Extensive areas to the west of Lake Abaya were cleared in the 1960s and 1970s to establish large-scale mechanized farms for cotton and other lowland crops.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Yellow-necked Francolin Pternistis leucoscepus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor winter  1990-1995  uncommon  A1  Near Threatened 
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus passage  1990-1995  frequent  A1  Near Threatened 
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 
Donaldson-Smith's Nightjar Caprimulgus donaldsoni resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Nechisar Nightjar Caprimulgus solala resident  1996  present  A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Star-spotted Nightjar Caprimulgus stellatus 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 
Von der Decken's Hornbill Tockus deckeni resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Hemprich's Hornbill Lophoceros hemprichii resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Taita Fiscal Lanius dorsalis resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Mouse-coloured Penduline-tit Anthoscopus musculus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Boran Cisticola Cisticola bodessa 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 
Rufous Chatterer Turdoides rubiginosa resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-rumped Babbler Turdoides leucopygia resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Golden-breasted Starling Cosmopsarus regius resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Magpie Starling Speculipastor bicolor resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bare-eyed Thrush Turdus tephronotus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-fronted Black-chat Myrmecocichla albifrons resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kenya Violet-backed Sunbird Anthreptes orientalis resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-headed Buffalo-weaver Dinemellia dinemelli resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Steel-blue Whydah Vidua hypocherina resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-and-yellow Barbet Trachyphonus erythrocephalus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Nechisar National Park 51,400 is identical to site 51,400  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Grassland - edaphic, dry  10%
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes and pools; Geothermal springs; Permanent herbaceous swamps and bogs; Rivers & streams  15%
Forest Lowland forest - riparian; Woodland - monodominant; Woodland - riparian  5%
Savanna Bushland & thicket - deciduous; Bushland & thicket - evergreen; Wooded grassland  70%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture minor
fisheries/aquaculture 15%
Notes: Both lakes have good populations of fish, including nile perch, and there is a small, modern fishing industry.
forestry 5%
nature conservation and research 100%
tourism/recreation minor
other minor
Notes: Crocodiles thrive in Lake Chamo and are being culled commercially for their highly prized skins.

Other biodiversity Nechisar National Park was established to protect the threatened mammal subspecies Alcephalus buselaphus swaynei (EN), as well as for its scenic beauty, and supports populations of at least 37 mammal species.

References Ash (1992), Duckworth et al. (1992), Hillman (1993), Safford (1993), Safford et al. (1993, 1994), Tesfaye (1985).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Nechisar National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/08/2014

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