Linnaeus and Ethiopian wildlife

This video is called Wildlife in Ethiopia.

From the Daily Monitor in Ethiopia:

Ethiopia: The Quest for Species Continues – So Does Extinction

B. Mezgebu

12 March 2009


Addis Abeba — When in the 18th century, a Swedish botanist by the name of Carl Linnaeus traveled in the world and having got hold of various species, 10,000 approximately, he gave each one of them a name, comprising two words actually, he thought he had found every species that lived in the world. He also named the one species closest to him Homo sapiens.

Linnaeus, a distinguished scientist by any measure was, however, far off the mark. Other scientists who followed in his footsteps left no stones unturned, literally, to find and name new plants or animals. They drilled into the earth’s crust searching for microbes, dived to oceans to search for living things in ocean vents and probed for life on other planets. It’s now believed there may be 30 million species all in all.

The quest continues. Anybody can find new species; you just have to beat about the bush. In fact, a few rich people who have wads of money to spare can now have a species named after them, even if the species in hand is the size of a dot. A long way off from the vanity of wanting a whole street named after you.

30 million sounds a mind-boggling number indeed, especially to urbanites today. Think of the average person in Addis. He rarely travels out of town. The kind and number of living things he encounters all his life are actually very limited. He or she might come in daily contact with a few plants or animals. On the main it will be livestock and a few species of trees and shrubs, which we most of us hardly notice anyway. So imagining that we live side by side with other 30 million living things does not come that easily.

Incidentally, I would like to mention here that zoos plug the gap in this aspect to some extant. To young people, therefore, who may have no chance of seeing a wild zebra in the flesh, observing it in a zoo would be the next good thing.

Commonly, most of us believe (some certainly don’t) human beings are the top dog. In other words, we are by right at the top of the food chain, and that we have been created for a special purpose. Braininess is our specialty, obviously. It helps us manipulate things here on earth. Come to think of it, it is good that the rest of living things don’t posses that power, otherwise we might have manipulated each other to extinction. In any case our capacity to manipulate the rest of nature might have been excessively used in some instances.

Having said that, Homo sapiens has been quite proficient at seeing to it that other species don’t outnumber him. Or outlast him, for that matter. How else can you explain the following: It is believed that the country’s wealth in fauna was enormous at some distant past. Now we Ethiopians have done a heck of good job killing off the wildlife that not only do we fall behind countries like Kenya in the kind and number of animals, but that our tourist industry survives because of history, and not because of nature.

Take the geographical forest cover in the country that is supposed to have been standing in the past or at a time when people started doing some counting. 40 percent of the country was graced by that stretch of verdant lay of the land. Today, despite some petty arguments as to whether the existing forest is this percentage or that percentage point higher, the rural landscape is for all intents and purposes, heavily deforested. Everything inside the forests, fauna and flora, is gone too.

Saving the Ethiopian wolf in face of habitat loss, diseased dogs, and climate change, an interview with Claudio Sillero-Zubiri, founder of the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme: here.

Gladiolus balensis Goldblatt is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. This plant is endemic to Ethiopia and thus far has only been collected in two locations. It grows in basaltic rocky areas which have now become largely cultivated or, in some areas, left fallow for grazing. This plant grows to about 55 cm in height, bearing a corm of about 20 mm in diameter, and has a very narrow altitudinal range of about 1,700-1,900 metres above sea level: here.

June 2011: An international conservation project has brought together botanists and scientists from Middle East and North Africa in an unprecedented bid to secure the future of the region’s wildlife: here.

4 thoughts on “Linnaeus and Ethiopian wildlife

  1. Baboon babies unveiled

    Friday 03 April 2009

    THREE baby baboons were exploring their enclosure and getting used to life in the spotlight as they were unveiled at Edinburgh zoo on Friday.

    The spring arrivals are the first gelada baboons to be born at the zoo and are tipped to become star attractions.

    Chandu, who was the first to arrive on February 10, is the only one whose sex has been determined so far and is a boy.

    Chibale, whose name means kinship, followed on March 6 and Chiku, whose name means chatter, finally arrived on March 10.


  2. Apr 25, 2:33 PM EDT

    Official: Ethiopia arrests 35 for coup plot

    Associated Press Writer

    NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Ethiopian government has arrested 35 people suspected of a coup attempt allegedly backed by an Ethiopian-American economist now teaching at a Pennsylvania university, an Ethiopian government spokesman said Saturday.

    Government spokesman Ermias Legesse said the group, which calls itself “May 15” after the date of controversial 2005 elections in Ethiopia, was led from the U.S. by former opposition leader Berhanu Nega, who teaches economics at Bucknell University. He is an assistant professor of economics, according to the Web site of the university in Lewisburg, Pa.

    “It is the party led by Berhanu Nega,” said Ermias. “If he comes to Ethiopia, we’ll arrest him.”

    He said the alleged coup plotters were arrested Friday.

    Berhanu, an economist, was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in 2005 but was arrested afterward along with more than 100 other opposition politicians and stood trial for treason. He and the others were freed in 2007 in a pardon deal. He left Ethiopia after the trial.

    The group of suspects was comprised of two cliques, one of former soldiers, another of civilians, Ermias said.

    “They were caught with weapons, uniforms, even plans,” he said. “I don’t want to give details about the plans; it’s for the court case.”

    Ermias said the charges have not been set and court proceedings will begin soon.

    “They decided to change the government in an unconstitutional way,” he said.

    Berhanu could not be reached at his Bucknell University office Saturday and his home number is unlisted.

    Bucknell spokesman Tom Evelyn declined immediate comment Saturday.

    According to his profile on the university’s Web site, Berhanu has urged the U.S. to back democratic movements in Ethiopia – the nation is controlled by one dominant political party – and to withdraw support for Ethiopia’s government.

    The opposition won an unprecedented number of parliamentary seats in the 2005 vote, but not enough to topple Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The opposition claimed the voting was rigged, and European Union observers said it was marred by irregularities. The election was followed by violent protests in which Ethiopia acknowledged its security forces killed 193 civilians protesting alleged election fraud.

    Since 2005, there has been only one opposition-led political protest in Ethiopia, held this month in Addis Ababa.


  3. Pingback: Ethiopian wildlife news | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Ethiopia is unquestionably a critical region for animal diversity: while more research is still needed, biologists have already recorded 22 mammals, 27 birds, and 17 amphibians that are endemic – meaning that there are found nowhere else in the world but in Ethiopia. Likewise, the flora of Ethiopia is immensely diverse: over 7000 species of plants have been recorded in Ethiopia, from which 12 percent are probably endemic.


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