Introduction to Some Mammals in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the largest countries in Africa, located in the Horn of Africa with its wide range of habitats like deserts and semi-deserts, bushlands, grasslands and savannas, forests, mountains, and wetlands, lakes and rivers.

Geographic map of Ethiopia with important cities

This wide range of habitats hosts 311 mammal species, of which 55 species are listed as endemic to the country.

Along with more than 300 species of birds, me and 2 other friends of mine spotted and photographed 39 of these species between January 30th and February 15th, 2019 in areas like Great Rift Valley, Bale Mountains, Awash National Park, Abijata-Shalla National Park, Lake Hawassa, Lake langano, Negele, and Yabelo.

In this article, I aim to introduce some of these wonderful creatures in the order of locations where we have seen and photographed them. For exact locations (coordinates), please write to me at

Ankober Escarpment and Jemma Valley

Our first stops were Ankober Escarpment and Jemma Valley to experiment the behaviours of an exraordinary creature called Gelada - Theropithecus gelada (Endemic to Ethiopia) which is sometimes called the bleeding-heart monkey or the gelada "baboon".

Geladas live in large populations in the Semien and Bale Mountains. Geladas are actually not baboons. They are found only in the high grassland of the deep gorges of the central Ethiopian plateau. They live in elevations 1,800–4,400 m (5,900–14,400 ft) above sea level, using the cliffs for sleeping and montane grassland for foraging.

Geladas are the world's most terrestrial primates—except for humans. Gelada monkeys live only in the high mountain meadows of Ethiopia. These baboon-size animals are the world's most terrestrial primates—except for humans.

Family of Gelada under Sun

Awash National Park

Maybe one of the most wondered animal of Ethiopia is the East African Oryx - Oryx beisa

It is a species of antelope from East Africa. The species is listed as Endangered by the IUCN.

The East African oryx stands just over a meter at the shoulder and weighs around 79 kg. It has a grey coat with a white underside, separated from the grey by a stripe of black, with black stripes where the head attaches to the neck, along the nose, and from the eye to the mouth and on the forehead. The ringed horns are thin and straight. They are found on both sexes and typically measure 75–80 cm.

East African oryx live in semidesert and steppes, where they eat grasses, leaves, fruits and buds. They are able to store water by raising their body temperatures. They gather in herds of five to 40 animals, often with females moving at the front and a large male guarding from the rear.

East African Oryx in Nature

Mantled Guereza - Colobus guereza is another mammal species that can be observed in Awash NP.

Also known simply as the guereza, the eastern black-and-white colobus, or the Abyssinian black-and-white colobus, it is a type of Old World monkey. It is native to much of west central and east Africa. It has a distinctive appearance, which is alluded to in its name; the long white fringes of hair the run along each side of its black trunk are known as a mantle. Its face is framed with white hair and it has a large white tail tuft.

The mantled guereza lives in social groups of three to fifteen individuals. These groups normally include a dominant male, several females, and the offspring of the females. It has a polygynous mating system and copulation is initiated with vocal communication. Gestation period is about 5 months.

Mantled Guereza Family on Trunk

Lake Langano

I should also mention this bat species in this article. East African Epauletted Fruit Bat - Epomophorus minimus, which we have found within the boundaries of Wabe Shebelle Hotel, is a species of megabat in the family Pteropodidae. It is found in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda. Its natural habitats are dry savanna and rocky areas. It is threatened by habitat loss.

East African Epauletted Fruit Bat on Tree

Bale Mountains

Bale Mountains host many mammal species including endemic ones to the area.

Cape hyrax - Procavia capensis, also called as Rock hyrax, is a medium-sized terrestrial mammal found at elevations up to 4,200 metres in habitats with rock crevices. They weigh between 4 - 5 kilograms with their short ears tails. They live in groups of 10–80 animals, and use sentries to report approaching predators. Interestingly, these animals are closely related to the elephants.

Cape Hyrax on Rock

Sanetti Plateau at Bale Mountains is the home of Giant Mole-rat, Big-headed African Mole-rat - Tachyoryctes macrocephalus (Endemic to Ethiopia). The big-headed African mole-rat, also known as the giant root-rat, Ethiopian African mole-rat, or giant mole-rat, is a rodent species in the family Spalacidae.

It is endemic to Ethiopia's Bale Mountains. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland. It is threatened by habitat loss. It is the main prey of the endangered Ethiopian wolf.

Close up of a big-headed African mole-rat

Another species one can witness at Sanetti plateau is Blick's Grass Rat - Arvicanthis blicki (Endemic to Ethiopia).

It is a species of rodent. It is found only in Ethiopia. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland.

Blick`s grass rat in Grassland

Ethiopian Wolf - Canis simensis (Endemic to Ethiopia) is another species trying to survive in the difficult conditions of Bale Mountains. It is also known as the Simien jackal or Abyssinian wolf, and is a canid native to the Ethiopian Highlands. It is similar to the coyote in size and build, and is distinguished by its long and narrow skull, and its red and white fur. It is Africa's most endangered carnivore.

It lives in isolated mountain ranges at altitudes of 3,000–4,500 m, with the overall adult population estimated at 360–440, more than half of them in the Bale Mountains.

The Ethiopian wolf is listed as endangered by the IUCN, on account of its small numbers and fragmented range.

Ethiopian Wolf Standing Still

We have managed to photograph the beautiful antelope called Mountain Nyala - Tragelaphus buxtoni (Endemic to Ethiopia) at Dinsho Grassland section of Bale Mountains.

The mountain nyala or balbok is an antelope found in high altitude woodland in a small part of central Ethiopia. It is a monotypic species without any subspecies.

The males are typically 120–135 cm tall while females stand 90–100 at the shoulder. Males weigh 180–300 and females weigh 150–200. The coat is grey to brown, marked with two to five poorly defined white strips extending from the back to the underside, and a row of six to ten white spots. White markings are present on the face, throat and legs as well. Males have a short dark erect crest, about 10 cm high, running along the middle of the back. Only males possess horns.

The mountain nyala has been classified as Endangered by IUCN. Their influence on Ethiopian culture is notable, with the mountain nyala being featured on the obverse of Ethiopian ten cents coins.

Male Mountain Nyala in Field

Bohor Reedbuck - Redunca redunca is also a resident of Dinsho area at Bale Mountains. It is an antelope native to central Africa. The head-and-body length of this medium-sized antelope is typically between 100–135 cm. Males reach approximately 75–89 cm at the shoulder, while females reach 69–76 cm. Males typically weigh 43–65 kg and females 35–45 kg. This sturdily built antelope has a yellow to grayish brown coat. Only the males possess horns.

The gestation period is seven and a half months long. The bohor reedbuck inhabits moist grasslands and swamplands as well as woodlands.

Bohor Reedbuck Looking at Camera


This arid area is the home for Unstriped ground squirrel - Xerus rutilus, a cute rodent with brownish or tawny in color with a lighter colored front. Their small head and body measure on average 22,5 centimeters long with an average tail length of 172 mm. The tail is flat in appearance. Body weight ranges from 250 to 420 grams The length of the hind foot is 35–49 mm with a braincase measuring only 24–25 mm. The length of the mandible is variable in the range of 31.0 to 33.9 mm. They are mainly solitary creatures.

Unstriped Ground Squirrel on Termite Nest

In this article, I've tried to introduce some mammals I've photographed during my trip to Ethiopia. I hope you enjoy it.

Best regards,


* Scientific article of Mr. Ahmet KARATAS, Professor of Biology, Nigde O.H. University, Department of Zoology (Biology) on "Mammals of Ethiopia"

* Wikipedia

Photo credits: Marko Bukorovic, Dalia Kvedaraite, Caglar Gungor.

Your article must be written in English

July 16, 2019


Thanks everyone. Next article will be about birds of Ethiopia. Keep following.

July 15, 2019


Very nice!

July 15, 2019


A wonderful and informative article. Very well done.

July 11, 2019


Excellent, excellent documentary article! Being "stuck" at home, I truly love and am fascinated by travel journal photography from around the world, especially about wildlife. Thanks so much for such a well written and informative article with such great photos! On caliber with NatGeo! William

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