The Mugo highlands are 35 km north of Hosana town in Gurage Zone. The zonal capital is Wolkite. The highland area runs north–south, forming part of the western edge to the Great Rift Valley, and the watershed between the Great Rift Valley Lakes region to the east and the Omo river basin to the west. The highlands are characterized by steep slopes and deep gorges (200–400 m deep, cut by streams and rivers) rising from 2,400 m to a relatively level top which peaks at 3,100 m. A recent survey visited a deep valley that contained degraded montane woodland with shrubs of Erica arborea and Rosa abyssinica and a few trees including Hagenia abyssinica, Juniperus procera, Schefflera abyssinica, Croton macrostachyus and Ekebergia capensis. Occasional isolated large Podocarpus falcatus trees indicate that the area was previously covered with mixed montane forest. The most widely planted exotic throughout the area is currently Eucalyptus globulus. Areas outside the steep valley were covered in grasses and other herbs grazed to a short turf, or had been converted to fields for crops.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. This site supports a substantial number of Afrotropical Highlands biome species, including Macronyx flavicollis and Myrmecocichla melaena, both of which are uncommon. Four Ethiopian endemics have been recorded, namely Dendropicos abyssinicus, Macronyx flavicollis, Parophasma galinieri and Serinus nigriceps.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The forest areas within the deep valleys (such as the one described above) have been protected by their relative inaccessibility. However, these areas are close to human settlements where few plants remain. The whole area is seriously threatened by conversion to agriculture, deforestation, overgrazing and resultant excessive soil erosion. The human population is increasing rapidly, and the total conversion of the site into agricultural land is a real possibility. Hosana is an important regional town, with a large high school and many primary and secondary schools. There is also a special school for the deaf and another for training medical auxiliaries. An effective environmental education programme could help create local awareness of the importance of forest and woodland remnants, and of the animals associated with them.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mugo highlands. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 24/01/2020.