This site lies towards the south of the country at the southern end of the Eritrean Central Plateau (the northern extent of the highland plateau running up from Ethiopia). This part of the plateau is contiguous with the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia and with the Central Ethiopian highlands Endemic Bird Area (EBA). Bird records from the general area of ‘Senafe and Guna Guna’ (south of Adi Caieh), at an altitude of over 1,800 m, show that the area merits definition as an IBA. Further survey work will be needed to define the boundaries of a site in this general area. Due to its location, 20 km north of the border with Ethiopia, the Senafe area has been a war-zone for many years and there are very few recent survey data for birds or any other groups. The area is similar to the upper slopes of Semenawi Bahri (ER003), with stony hillsides and peaks, deeply incised valleys, rough moorland, tussock-grassland, scrub and Juniperus procera woodland with planted Eucalyptus and shrubby undergrowth. However, there are patches of mixed wet woodland between 2,100–2,500 m, including very tall deciduous trees mingled with figs, Ficus sp., Juniperus sp. and exotic Eucalyptus sp., with ferns among the undergrowth. These woodlands occur in isolated patches at the bottom of sheer cliffs and in ravines from Senafe and Guna Guna, north to Adi Caieh.
See Box and Table 2 for key species. The restricted-range Myrmecocichla melaena was recorded among bare granite rocks and scrub, and breeding in cracks in cliff-faces in the southern mountains above 1,800m around Senafe and Guna Guna in the 1950s. It has also been recorded more recently (1998) at Senafe. It seems likely, from the accounts of Smith, that Rougetius rougetii will occur in this site. Although he does not mention the species at Senafe, Smith visited the nearby area around Adi Caieh and records the species as ‘characterizing small upland streams with adjacent willows, rank grass and marshy vegetation’ around and above 1,800 m. The Afrotropical Highlands biome species Bostrychia carunculata is recorded from only one other IBA and a further six—Columba albitorques, Thamnolaea semirufa, Dioptrornis chocolatinus, Parus leuconotus, Onychognathus albirostris and Corvus crassirostris—are recorded from no other IBA in Eritrea. There are also records of two Somali–Masai biome species from the site; see Table 2.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The site is clearly important as the Eritrean part of the Central Ethiopian highlands EBA and an area within which many of the endemic birds ‘shared’ by Ethiopia and Eritrea occur. This importance is recognized by the Eritrean government and the Senafe area has been flagged as a priority area for further investigation in the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (Duthie pers. comm.) Virtually all of the bird information dates from the 1940s, 1950s and earlier and the effects of the subsequent years of war on biodiversity in the area are unknown.