|1981||Deferred||At Bureau - Not yet legally defined/protected|
|1979||Deferred||Bureau - More info required|
|1979||Tentative list||Submitted as tentative site by State Party|Paul Tanner (UK):
We also visited this park (in Dec 2007) and still remember the sorry sight which greeted us. So we found the review by T Mengstab of particular interest.
First, a “reminder” that the Park is listed on this Web site solely because it was at one time on Ethiopia’s T List. In 1979 Abijatta Shalla, was one of 10 Ethiopian nominations deferred by the Bureau in advance of the full WHC. The result was the same for a second attempt at inscription in 1981. At the time the Communist military junta known as “The Derg” had been in power for 4 years – the Ogaden war had just finished and the first in the series of famines during the 1980s was about to take place. The civil war to get rid of the Derg and its ultimate leader Mengistu would last until 1991. The subsequent years have seen an initial period of constitutional uncertainty be at least partially settled by the introduction of a Federal approach which devolves many powers to the regions – but this does create opportunities for conflicts or at least “gaps” on preservation matters as between national and regional government. Meanwhile a 1979 population of c37 million has risen to today’s 76 million despite the loss of Eritrea, the “Red Terror” and all the famines and wars. The result of this on Parks like Abijatta Shalla has been disastrous.
Looking at the state of the Park in Dec 2007 it was difficult to conceive how it might ever have been considered capable of meeting even the more relaxed assessments of 1979. It was clearly in dire need of management and investment. The naïve painting at the entrance (photo) promised a cornucopia of wildlife around the 2 Lakes. The reality however was deeply concerning. Some broken down park vehicles which didn’t look as if they had moved for years were parked nearby. The park itself was clearly full of pastoralist “squatters”. There were still a few antelope and some ostriches in a semi zoo (photo) whilst the fringes of the distant lake shore glimmered pink with flamingoes but generally there was an air of decay and collapse. This “link from a report of 2002” says of Abijatta Shalla “There is a vast encroachment on all sides and it is becoming a desert due to overgrazing. The conservation plans are in a shameful shambles”. It also indicates that the results had been repeated across many of Ethiopia’s parks.
When the Derg nominated Abijatta Shalla for WHS status it might have been over optimistic but must still presumably have seen the place as something of a “jewel”. Is this decline irreversible? Is there anything which the governments (central or regional) could do? Earlier on our trip we visited Ker Bach Park at another of the rift valley lakes which dot the landscape south of Addis. Here a “revolution” was taking place via one possible solution – the entire management of the park had been outsourced to the “African Parks Foundation” (APF). This is a Dutch/US charitable organization bankrolled, among others, by the Waltons of Walmart. A similar plan had been put in place for the National Parks of the Omo area and, if successful, would presumably have been rolled out to other Parks. The vision was for the introduction of good management practices (ecological, human resource and financial) and for restocking with appropriate species – just what Abutalla Shalla needs? Indeed the improved tracks within the park indicated some sure signs of action. But nothing in this world is that simple – in Ker Bach and Omo the APF found itself unwillingly and negatively associated with the “forced” removal of local populations and in Dec 2007 “announced its withdrawal from the scheme”
. So much for that “revolution”! But where next for the management of Ker Bach and Omo land – let alone Abijatta Shalla? And would the situation have been any better if the WHC had inscribed the park back in 1981 thus giving it a greater profile and potentially increasing UNESCO’s leverage to prevent the decline which has occurred? Given Ethiopia’s history over those years I somehow doubt it.
It is a difficult problem – the massive increase in Ethiopia’s population and the “free for all” period following the defeat of the Derg has led to many areas reserved for wildlife becoming over populated. The Ethiopian Government clearly has its eyes on the vast tourist numbers who visit the wildlife parks of Kenya and Tanzania and wants a Parks strategy which offers something along those lines to boost its more famous historic and cultural attractions. But where can these people go to make a living if they are kicked off? Does it have to be “all or nothing”? I would be interested to hear T Mengstab’s views on what can/should be done - open a new subject on the Forum!
Date posted: January 2009 Mengstab T. (curently Norway):
Yes i have been in the last Jnue- August/ 2008 for Research from Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU on Migratory birds.Ii is an amazing area of Biodiversity, endemisim, and Home of hundreds of Migratory birds from ever part of the world. Not only that the rift valley of Ethiopia is almost full with lots of ecolodges that make mental rest. But the park is really disappointing it is under sever destruction both by animals, agriculture,sand and mineral salt extraction from the lakes off-shore! for more details contact me!
Date posted: January 2009
Have you been to Abijatta Shalla Lakes National Park? Share your experiences!