1. There are 57 types of acacia trees in Ethiopia. 7 are endemic.
I never tire of the acacia tree (hello blog header) – here is one in Wondo Genet
2. There are over 6000 types of plants in Ethiopia. About 600 are endemic.
Chat isn’t endemic to Ethiopia – but it’s everywhere in the Sidama region. After having watched the spectacular documentary, Black Gold, I understand why more and more coffee growers are adding chat to their cash crop efforts. In about every plot chat was mixed with coffee trees.
And then they shared a bit of their ‘narcotic’ with me. I was unimpressed (meaning, I didn’t feel a thing – but I did hike an hour longer than I planned).
Dereje, my guide (in blue t-shirt) was a very motivated young man. He had spent a year following tourists and to improve his English and to learn birding. He could bird by ear and by sight – no binoculars, no bird book. I can’t bird by ear to save my life. I really admired his effort. He was a terrific guide – gentle, kind, attentive (we didn’t have to cross any rivers, so I can’t comment on his strength), and hopeful about his future. He plans to continue improving his guiding skills. I admired how he walked the entire day in flip flops. He then carefully washed his feet in the hot and holy spring. Had I had a bit more time, and been a bit deeper into my ‘experience’, I would have joined the local people in the hot spring (if invited). I can imagine their reaction to my large, soft body. Their giggle over my gear was funny enough, but a hot and holy spring would have been just totally divine. I hope Dereje accomplishes his goals – and I look forward to meeting him again in the beautiful Wondo Genet! You bet I plan to go back and walk with him another time – this walk will include a hot and holy dip in the spring (I didn’t take pictures of the spring, there were many people in it and they declined my request to take pictures there – I respected that entirely and without hesitation).
3. 55 years ago over 43% of Ethiopia was forested. Now, only 3% of Ethiopia is forested.
Lake Langano was particularly dry and deforested – some of that is about the shifting ecosystem as you drive south, some of it is about land use/population/resource depletion in the areas just outside of Addis. (That, and an enormous number of flower plantations that are surely poisoning the groundwater and devastating the soil in the area).
A view from a Bohe tukul. You can see the farms everywhere.