The Liben plains are an extensive area of flat land that stretches east and south of Negele, the capital of Borana Zone. Negele is over 310 km south-east of Awassa. The plains have formed over an area of bedrock (which includes limestone) between the Genale and Dawa rivers. Excepting some artificial ponds, there are no significant water-bodies in this area. Starting at 1,000 m at the edge of the Genale river gorge, the ground rises gently to over 2,000 m. The site is centred on a flat area at 1,500–1,550 m, 10–40 km south-east of Negele town. Woodlands (comprising small trees and shrubs) border the area, more than 95% of which is covered with long grass and scattered Acacia bushes. Little is known of the plant species involved. The plains have previously been used as a military training site and had a military airport.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Heteromirafra sidamoensis is known only from this area. It has been found 12 km south-east and 2 km south of Negele. Birds probably referring to this species have been seen at other locations nearby on the tracks to Arero and Filtu. A survey in June 1996 recorded 44 species, including Calandrella somalica, Cisticola nanus and Neotis heuglinii. Other Somali–Masai biome species known to occur include Nectarinia hunteri, Tmetothylacus tenellus, Batis perkeo and Laniarius ruficeps. Spreo albicapillus and Passer motitensis have been recorded breeding. The site is also a known location for the uncommon Francolinus coqui.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The Liben plains and Negele woodlands are unprotected. The major threats to the site are from the development of new settlements. However, there are plans to develop part of the area as a new airport for Negele. The Borana–Oromo pastoralists use the area to graze their animals, the woodlands being important to them in the dry season. However, the woodlands can also harbour ticks, hence, before the vegetation dries, the Borana burn the area to control the ticks without destroying the trees and bushes.