Gambella National Park

Country/territory: Ethiopia

IBA Criteria met: A1, A3 (1996)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 506,100 ha

Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society

Site description
Gambella National Park is in the centre of Gambella Region. It lies between the Baro and Gilo rivers, the Baro river forming the northern boundary, c.15 km south of Gambella town. The centre of the park, Abobo, is 82 km south of Gambella town. The park is the largest protected area in Ethiopia. The general topography is flat with some areas of higher ground where deciduous woodland and savanna occur. The higher areas are often rocky with large termite mounds. The park also supports extensive areas of wet grassland and swamps with grasses growing over 3 m tall. Other important habitats include the rivers, their banks and the oxbow lakes. Traditionally, the Nilotic peoples who live in the area graze their animals throughout the park, grow a few crops on the riverbanks and hunt for game-meat. Presently many refugees from southern Sudan have moved into the park, and some of the settlements set up for the highland people brought to the Gambella plains after the 1984–1985 drought and famine have remained populated.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 3 for key species. More than 230 species have been recorded in the park. Balaeniceps rex was recorded in the early 1960s, 20 km west of Gambella. There are recent anecdotal reports of the species breeding in the Abobo area, suggesting that it may be present seasonally in swamps within the park. Acrocephalus griseldis was recorded regularly between 1969 and 1976, but its current status is unknown. Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome species include: Merops bulocki, Eremomela pusilla, Cisticola ruficeps, C. troglodytes, Plocepasser superciliosus, Lagonosticta larvata and Vidua interjecta, the last-named being known in Ethiopia only from around Gambella. Three Afrotropical Highlands and four Somali–Masai biome species have been recorded. Other species include Platalea leucorodia (rarely recorded from the south and west of Ethiopia), Kaupifalco monogrammicus (little-known in Ethiopia), Campethera cailliautii and Acrocephalus melanopogon. The only Ethiopian record of Vanellus crassirostris is from Gambella.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gambella National Park. Downloaded from on 06/10/2022.