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Eastern Africa’s biological diversity reflects its position astride the equator and …

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- Eastern Africa and biodiversity

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. 


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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). 

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