The Gambella National Park lies in the west of Ethiopia, on the border with Sudan. It is over 50,000 hectares of rich swamp habitat - with the north bordering the Baro River and the south including the Gilo River. Gambella is home to many wildlife species not found anywhere else in Ethiopia, including white-eared kob, roan antelope, topi, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, and the endangered Nile lechwe. The people of Gambella - the Anuak and the Nuer - rely on the rivers for fish, and the grasslands for livestock. However, as more pressure is put upon these natural resources from increasing populations, climate change and unregulated management, the Anuak and the Nuer face an uncertain future.
An Official Proclamation of the revised boundaries of the Gambella National Park (GNP) was signed in October 2014. Although still largely undeveloped, a base camp has now been built at Puju and road construction is ongoing. An airstrip and hangar have been constructed for a light aircraft (to be procured in the near future.)
The IGAD Biodiversity Management Programme is implemented in Gambella by the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre & Network (HoARECN) with a €6m grant from EU. Other partners here include Gambella Regional Land Utilisation, Administration and Environmental Protection Authority, Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, and African Parks Network.
To enhance the biodiversity management of the Boma-Gambella landscape whilst improving the livelihoods of the people of Gambella.
This project has three expected results:
1. To identify key ecological attributes, land use priorities and opportunities in the Boma-Gambella landscape and use this to develop a holistic land use plan for the Gambella region.
2. To establish key protected areas targeting the conservation of watersheds, riparian zones, wildlife movement, and biodiversity hotspots, and develop the local capacity to manage these efficiently.
3. Help develop the benefits of ecosystem goods and services so that they contribute significantly to the regional economy, to the improvement of community livelihoods, and to preservation of protected areas.
Impacts and achievements:
In December 2014, a team of 14 experts began work on preparing an Integrated Land use and Development Plan (ILDP) for the Gambella Region. The team met with communities, land users and other stakeholders to analyse current land uses.
In April 2015, African Parks Network supported the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority to fit a total of 56 satellite collars on various wildlife species in Gambella, including the first lion and giraffe in the area. Two Nile Lechwe were collared in the Duma Wetland. A total of 72 hours were flown during the month for the extensive dry season wildlife survey.
Data collection has been completed on two value chains - honey and shea butter. Two Community Based Organisations have been established to start developing these businesses and establishing markets??
Building a constituency for conservation
The Federal Minister of Tourism and various Regional Ministers conducted an aerial tour of Gambella in April 2015.