Genale river

Site description (2001 baseline):

Site location and context
This site comprises the middle section of the Genale river which forms the border between Bale and Borena Zones, and lies to the east of the Borena Zonal capital, Negele. This section of the river stretches as far north as the Sidamo–Bale bridge, where the track from Goba crosses the river, and south to the Baratieri falls, where the river crosses into El Kere Zone of Somali Region. The Genale river forms a major part of the Genale–Dawa–Weyb basin, the third-largest in the country in terms of land area, draining 168,000 km² of southern Ethiopia. The river rises in the Sidamo highlands, flowing south-east to Dolo on the Somalia border. The major tributaries are the Welmel, Dumal and Web, all originating in the Bale mountains. The lower section of the Genale river valley is described under Bogol Manyo–Dolo (site ET068). The Sidamo–Bale bridge, at 1,200 m, is at the head of a wide, gently sloping valley over 100 km long, which ends with the Baratieri falls at c.800 m. The sides of the valley rise to over 1,500 m and are especially steep on the western side towards Negele. Little is known about the vegetation in this area. Open woodland dominated by various Acacia spp. prevails in the middle Genale basin, and riparian vegetation occupies a narrow strip along the river. The largest trees are probably Ficus sycamorus, Mimusops kummel and Tamarindus indica. There are probably also reedbeds and other aquatic plants in the riverbed. The gently sloping valley floor is used for rain-fed and irrigated crop production, and many domestic animals graze in the valley.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. This area is important for Tauraco ruspolii and Streptopelia reichenowi. Tauraco ruspolii has been found in the north of the site, near where the Goba–Negele road crosses the Genale river. Both Streptopelia reichenowi and Ploceus dichrocephalus are suspected to occur beside and along the riverbed. A survey in July 1996 recorded 97 species, including P. dichrocephalus. Accipiter ovampensis is also known to occur.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Conversion to agriculture, especially beside and along the riverbed (the suspected habitat of Streptopelia reichenowi and Ploceus dichrocephalus), is the most critical problem. Deforestation is also a significant problem. The valley is a natural border between the southern slopes of the Bale massif and the Ogaden, and the Sidamo and Borena areas. How people use this section of the Genale river needs to be determined if a sustainable conservation programme for the ecosystem is to be formulated.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Genale river. Downloaded from on 30/11/2023.