Eastern Africa and biodiversity
United Nations Environment Programme (Content Partner); Kevin J. Caley
(Topic Editor). 2007. "Eastern Africa and biodiversity." In:
Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.:
Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and
the Environment). Encyclopedia of Earth
February 26, 2007; Last revised April 13, 2007.
Overview of resources
Eastern Africa’s biological diversity reflects its position astride the
equator and the high variability of landscapes and aquatic ecosystems.
These conditions provide suitable habitat for a large variety of living
organisms, some with very limited ranges. For instance, the Bonga
Forest in Ethiopia contains more than 15 species of highland birds; the
Metu-Gore-Tepi forest has more than 16 species of birds of which at
least two are endemic, while the Tiro Boter-Becho forests have more
than 32 highland biome
species of birds. A total of 277 species of mammals are known in
Ethiopia, of which 29 are endemic and almost exclusively confined to
the central plateaus. Uganda also has a high diversity, with over 1,000
species of birds being recorded, a significant percentage of Africa’s
2,313 bird species; these it owes to its combination of semi-arid
savannahs, lowland and montane rain forests, vast wetlands, and an
Afroalpine zone which ranges in altitude from 650 to 5,000 meters (m).
The diverse habitats of Eritrea, from scorching sub-desert flatlands to
mist-enshrouded evergreen montane forests, hold a wide variety of
birds, many of which are confined to the Horn of Africa.
Burundi has its fair share of diversity as well, with a total of 107
mammal species having been recorded to date. Meanwhile, the Masai Mara
of Kenya is world-famous for big game. As elsewhere, many of Africa's
animal - and plant - species are threatened with extinction. For
instance although Djibouti does not have any endemic mammals, the
following threatened terrestrial and marine species occur there:
African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus), Beira Antelope (Dorcatragus megalotis), Dorcas Gazelle (Gazella dorcas), Large-eared Free-tailed bat (Otomops martiensseni), Soemmerring’s gazelle (Gazella soemmerringii) and Dugong (Dugong dugon).