Ethiopia boasts one of the most diverse faunas in Africa. Although most species present are typical of the Afro-tropical region, the fauna also displays affiliations to the Palaearctic region. The Bale Mountains, for instance, protect the only known sub-Saharan breeding populations of Palaearctic birds such as the golden eagle, ruddy shelduck and red-billed chough.
- Of the 280 mammal species recorded in Ethiopia, at least 40 are found nowhere else in the world. Most of these endemics are relatively inconspicuous shrews, rodents and bats, but the list also contains several larger and more striking species. Among these, the best known are the Ethiopian wolf (the world’s rarest wild dog), mountain nyala (a massive spiral-horned antelope), Bale monkey (a bamboo-eater confined to the Harenna Forest), gelada (a grass-eating baboon with a flowing lion-like mane and heart-shaped red chest patch) and Walia ibex (the only goat indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa).
- Other mammals represented in Ethiopia include the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey, small numbers of elephant and buffalo, and a subspecies of lion noted for the males’s unusually large black mane.
- Of the 860 bird species recorded in Ethiopia, a full 18 - including the spectacular Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco, Stresemann’s Bush Crow and melodious Abyssinian catbird - are national endemics and a similar number are near-endemics whose range only otherwise extends into Eritrea. The Simien Mountains are the best place in the world to see the mighty lammergeyer displaying its 2-metre wingspan.
- Reptiles recorded in Ethiopia range from the heavyweight Nile crocodile and impressive Nile monitor lizard to several tiny species chameleon. At least 16 reptile species are endemic to Ethiopia, along with 26 amphibian and 33 freshwater fish species.
- Ethiopia’s invertebrate fauna - comprising insects, arachnids, molluscs and the like - is even more diverse. Butterflies alone are represented by around 375 species of which almost 10% are endemic.