Mago National Park is in South Omo Zone, 35 km south-west of Jinka, the administrative centre of the Zone. The park lies to the north of a large 90° bend in the Omo river. To the west is the Tama Wildlife Reserve, with the Tama river forming the boundary. South of the Omo river is the Murle Controlled Hunting Area, with an important wetland—Lake Dipa—beside the river. The Mago river flows through the centre of the park and joins the Neri river at Mago swamp, before continuing southwards as the Usno to join the Omo river. The river, which is 760 km long, originates in the central, south-western highlands of Ethiopia, where it is known as the Gibe. Its final destination is Lake Turkana, close to the Kenyan border. The altitude at the edge of the park is c.400 m. To the east are the Mursi Hills, rising to over 1,600 m. North of the Neri river are the Mago mountains with the highest point, Mt Mago, at 2,528 m. The south-eastern quarter of the park is crossed by many small streams and rivers. The headquarters for the park are by the Neri river, near the entrance from Jinka. The main habitats of the park and surrounding area are the rivers and riverine forest, the wetlands of Mago swamp and Lake Dipa, the bushland, savanna grassland and open grassland on the more level areas, and bushland and scrub on the sides of the hills. Open grassland comprises just c.9% of the area, the rest of the area being described as ‘very dense’. The largest trees are found in the riverine forest beside the Omo, Mago and Neri. Areas along the lower Omo (within the park) are populated with a rich diversity of ethnic groups including the Ari, Banna, Bongoso, Hamer, Karo, Kwegu, Male and Mursi peoples. A number of these groups live beside the river and make extensive use of its natural resources and its levees to grow crops.
See Box and Table 3 for key species. The park list currently stands at 301 species, including Somali–Masai biome species such as Acryllium vulturinum, Trachyphonus darnaudii, T. erythrocephalus, Mirafra hypermetra, M. poecilosterna, Tchagra jamesi, Lanius dorsalis, Prinia somalica, Nectarinia nectarinioides, Plocepasser donaldsoni and Speculipastor bicolor. Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome species are represented by the extremely uncommon Turdoides tenebrosus in dense riparian thicket at Lake Dipa and elsewhere, and Estrilda troglodytes in rank grass along streams and swamp edges. Other species of interest include Phoeniculus damarensis, which has a very limited distribution in the south of the country, Porphyrio alleni (at least 50) and Butorides striatus (80+) at Lake Dipa, Pluvianus aegypticus and Scotopelia peli along the Omo river and Cossypha niveicapilla in the undergrowth of riverine forest.
Non-bird biodiversity: The park was established to conserve large animals of the open plain, particularly Damaliscus lunatus korrigum (VU) and Alcelaphus buselaphus lelwel (LR/cd). A total of 56 species of mammal have been recorded.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Throughout the lower Omo basin, including Mago and Omo National Parks, subsistence agriculture, shifting and flood-retreat cultivation, pastoralism, wildlife conservation, tourism and mechanized farming comprise the most significant forms of land use. With increasing population pressure exacerbated by the occasional inflow of peoples from neighbouring areas, there are severe conflicts of interest for the use of the natural resources.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mago National Park. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 31/03/2023.