Entoto Natural Park lies on the south-eastern slopes of Mt Entoto, between the northern limit of the city of Addis Ababa (at c.2,600 m), and the track along the mountain ridge (at over 3,100 m). This track forms the border between Addis Ababa and Oromiya Regions, and divides two large watersheds, that of the Abbay (Blue Nile) to the north and the Awash to the south. The mountain is formed from a tilted block of bedrock that has left very steep, soil-less slopes and cliffs on the northern side, and much longer, shallower slopes on the south-eastern side. The natural vegetation is Afro-montane forest and, where drainage is impeded, woodland with open meadows. The forest would have been dominated by Juniperus procera with groves of Olea europaeacuspidata, scattered Hagenia abyssinica, Hypericum revolutum, H. quartinianum, Podocarpus falcatus and Acacia abyssinica, with A. negrii in some of the more disturbed valleys. Erica arborea appears at altitudes above 3,000 m. Shrubby areas include species with fleshy fruits like Rosa abyssinica and Carissa edulis, which attract fruit-eating birds. The number of herbs, both in the undergrowth of the forest and in the meadows, is very large and includes a number of endemics, particularly clovers. The whole Entoto mountain range (and many of those around it) has been covered with Eucalyptus plantations. Farmers on Entoto cultivate barley and raise cattle and sheep. Despite the close proximity to the city, their system of farming has been little affected by modern inputs. Thus the habitats in the park are diverse: forest, bushland, cultivated fields, grassy meadows, rocky slopes and cliffs, streams and marshes.
See Box and Table 3 for key species. So far, 115 species have been recorded from Entoto Natural Park and escarpment (although over 200 are known or likely to occur). Two of these, Dendropicos abyssinicus and Parophasma galinieri, are Ethiopian endemics. Vanellus melanocephalus, Macronyx flavicollis and Serinus nigriceps may occur occasionally in the montane grasslands, as they are known from similar habitat nearby. Also, as the natural vegetation is restored, it is likely that more species, such as Poicephalus flavifrons, which is known from nearby Menagesha State Forest (site ET031), will move into the park. The park is an excellent place for watching vultures (with five species present), as well as eagles, buzzards and hawks, larks and ravens. Of particular interest are Gypaetus barbatus (a notable population exists in the Entoto and Gorfu hills), Buteo oreophilus, Bubo capensis (historical records only), Aquila wahlbergi and Accipiter rufiventris. There is a substantial Gyps rueppellii roost. Many Palearctic and intra-African migrant species use the park.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The Ethiopian Heritage Trust runs the park, having leased the area from Addis Ababa Region (in 1995) on the understanding that the Trust will develop the area as a natural park to be used by the people of Addis Ababa as well as visitors. However, as the park is not part of the government’s official protected-area system, the Trust has to raise all the funds needed to develop and run it. The fast-growing Eucalyptus trees suppress the growth of nearly all the indigenous woody and herbaceous plants and severely reduce the biodiversity of any area where they are planted in dense stands. Removal of timber, twigs and leaves (for fuel and to sell—this is the main source of fuel for Addis Ababa) has left the soil in many areas of the park greatly impoverished and vulnerable to erosion. Eucalyptus trees demand large quantities of water, and areas that were previously seasonally wet and supporting a distinctive flora and fauna have now dried up. Streams used to be perennial, but now they only flow for a short period after the rains stop. One of the aims of the Ethiopian Heritage Trust is to restore an enriched natural forest in the park area, and the rainy seasons of 1995 and 1996 have seen extensive plantings of indigenous tree seedlings. The northern slopes and cliffs of Entoto are currently outside the park boundaries, but it is hoped that they will be incorporated into the park sometime in the future. Many people depend on the park for their livelihood; their needs will have to be accommodated as the park develops.