Lake Chamo

The Nechisar National Park is border on Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya. The lakes are very different because of the ferrous oxide, what makes Lake Abaya’s water brown, whereas Lake Chamo is very blue. The lakes are connected by River Kulfo.

lakes The land which dived the lakes is called ‘Bridge of God’.


We visited the Lake Chamo several times. It’s famous for the large crocodiles and hippos that live here. We could observe them at close quarters and of course we could always find new birds to add to our list.


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On the shore we found an African Fish Eagle nest where we could follow up how the chick was growing and we saw adults bird everywhere around the national park.


We found hippopotamus footprints one kilometre from the lake in the mountains. Supposedly they spent the nights there.


Before we started the hard work on the south of the plains we always had a HotPack for dinner.


More Yabelo

Where we saw the vultures and the eagles:

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The camels are important lifestock in Ethiopia (Camelus dromedarius). Like cattle, they provide a variety of resources (including milk, meat and hides) and they play an important role in pastoralist culture.


Birds around Yabelo

Stresemann’s bushcrow (Zavattariornis stresemanni) is endemic to central-southern Ethiopia. It lives in a small area circumscribed by the towns of Yabelo, Mega, and Arero in Sidamo Province.



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We spent a night at the school of Madacho.

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Yabelo Wildlife Sanctuary

On the 18th of January the expedition group split into 2 small groups. Doortje and Frederik went to Bale Mountains, Zsófi, Ruben and Eddy to Yabelo Wildlife Sanctuary. Pim, our friend from Belgium joined to the Yabelo group.

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Yabelo Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area in southern Ethiopia. It is located in the Borena Zone of the Oromia Region.
The park affords protection to the endemic and vulnerable Streseman’s Bush Crow and and the White-tailed Swallow, these are also restricted-range species.


This area is famous for the big amount of nightjar what they have, that was the reason why we went there. A very nice scout (Jarso) joined us on these days. With his help we could easily observe the endemic species, and e.g. Ostrich, Rosy-patched Bush-shrike, Gabar Goshawk, Vulturine Guinea Fowl and at one stop-point we saw 15 vultures and 5 Tawny eagles together!


We saw same nice mammal species, like the Unstriped Ground Squirell, Generuk and Black-backed Jackal.


We were searching for the nightjars two nights long but we couldn’t find any so we decided to go back earlier to Nechisar to continue the work there.

During the trip we gave the children pens which were was donated by the Hasselt University and a Hungarian sponsor.


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Finally we stopped at the border of the National National Park to do some bird watching at the marshland of Lake Chamo. The diversity of the birds was amazing. We saw 37 species in one hour! Our favorite bird was the hunting Black Heron.              IMG_2463-1   IMG_2476-1

Home, sweet home

We arrived back safely to Hungary and Belgium after this amazing trip.

Addis Ababa Airport


We would like to say thank you for everybody who helped to prepare and manage our expedition. Thank you for the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, the BirdLife Ethiopia and the Nechisar National Park!


We are summarizing our data and we will publicize them soon!


Catching nightjars in a foreign country is always a challenge. For this expedition we try to focus on catching nightjars by hand. At night we drive on the dirt roads of Nechisar National Park and scan the surroundings for the eyes of nightjars. The eyes of nightjars will light-up when shined upon with a strong beam of light, like from the LedLensers we use.

Until today we have covered most of the dirt roads in the south of Nechisar National Park many times. Every nightjar that was caught was fitted with a specially designed colour-ring. These rings make it possible to identify recaptures.

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Our counter after 7 nights in the field stopped at 28 nightjars. Most of them are Slender-tailed nightjars, five Star-spotted nightjars and several Dusky nightjars.

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Next week we will explore the northern part of Nechisar National Park… and who knows what we might find there.




Before we left Belgium, we agreed to have a little ‘break’ after two weeks of hard work. Half of the group would go to Yabello and the other half to Bale Mountain. To say goodbye to the scouts that joined us the first two weeks, and to show how grateful we are for their help, we decided to buy a goat. In Ethiopia, there is almost always goat for dinner at times of celebration.

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Our scouts have a lot of experience with slaughtering, so the goat was killed in a really fast and humane way. The goat was prepared as grilled meat and stew, and the bouillon from the stew was used for a very nice spicy bean soup. To make sure the celebration was complete, we also bought some beer and wine. It ended up being a really unique and cosy evening. And we even had some goat left for breakfast the next day.

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Mist netting

At our arrival we were aware of the fact that catching birds would be a big challenge. We put mist nest at different places in the camp site to catch birds, we used baits to attract them and tried to find the best places for putting up the nest. Until yet we have caught with the mist net Black-crowned Tchagra, Northern Brownbul, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Willow Warbler, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Jameson’s Firefinch, Orange breasted Bush-shrike, White-browed Robin-Chat and a Ring-necked Dove which was caught by hand

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We ordered different sizes of bird rings from Kenya but most of them are not delivered so we have limited opportunity to ring them. We measure the birds and take DNA samples for analysing. During the night the nets are open to catch bats. We caught 3 bats, one horseshoe bat species and two heart-nose bat species.

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The People

The surface area of Nechisar National Park is a lot larger than nature reserves we know in Belgium and Hungary. It is also filled with animals that could be quite dangerous in certain situations. Because of this, the park management thought it would be best to provide us with trained scouts. In our base camp, there are 5 scouts present, and they also brought a girl to cook for them. We are also accompanied by our chauffeurs and Yilma, who works for the Ethiopian Wildlife & Natural History Society.

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So in total, we can enjoy the company of 9 local people. As a result, we have learned a lot about Ethiopian culture and habits. We have learned how to greet people, how to drink coffee and eat dinner in a decent way. The habit of drinking coffee is really important in Ethiopia. It is not just about drinking coffee, but about being in each others company and sharing thoughts. Although these people lack, in our eyes, basic luxury, they still share everything they have and care for everyone they meet.

Michiel, we miss you!


A few days ago disaster struck… Michiel, our reptile and moth-expert was bitten by a bat… For safety reasons we decided it would be a good idea if he got home. Especially because he needs a rabies-vaccination every day for the next two weeks.

Michiel, we miss you and whish you all the best! We sing a song every time someone says someting, as a tribute to you.

Mesay, our driver, has a special message for you.