First assessment of bird diversity in the UNESCO Sheka Forest Biosphere Reserve, southwestern Ethiopia: species richness, distribution and potential for avian conservation

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Mattias Van Opstal
Bernard Oosterlynck
Million Belay
Jesse Erens
Matthias De Beenhouwer


The Sheka Zone in southwestern Ethiopia is covered by some of the largest remaining forests in the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot.  Owing to the rich biodiversity and a high degree of endemism, it was declared as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2012 and is considered a Key Biodiversity Area.  Detailed knowledge on species diversity and distribution in the reserve is, however, severely limited.  From February to April 2016, an assessment of the bird diversity and distribution in the reserve was made for the first time through point count transects, camera-trap recordings and opportunistic observations.  In total, 244 bird species were identified, of which 19% was only found within the reserve’s designated protected zones.  Our study indicates a remarkable bird species richness across the different habitats in Sheka Forest Biosphere Reserve and can be used as a baseline for future monitoring studies and conservation planning.


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