The Didessa River contributes about 60% of water discharge to the Blue Nile, an international river which is vital for the survival of the riparian countries, particularly, Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan. The Didessa River is made of major tributaries such as the Dabena, Anger and Dabus Rivers. In the 1960s the Didessa River Valley with Anger River was a haven for the African Buffaloes, lions, leopards, greater kudu and the many unknown species of animals and plants to the world. In 1974 the Derg Regime (the Military Government of Socialist Ethiopia between 1974 to 1987), overtook the power and established the so-called Anger and Didessa State Farms which drove all the large mammals out of the Anger Plains up to the corner of the Dabena and Didessa Rivers. Large mammals such as buffaloes and lions stormed human dwellings while they flee from the roaring tractors and dozers. They were not welcomed in their new habitat which is not able to accommodate the herds. Accordingly, the community which was overrun by unknown number of buffaloes complained to the then Derg Regime administrators. Particularly, the nearby Meko Woreda (District)) could not bear the hazard by the migrating buffalo herds. They were provided with one automatic shot gun and ten bullets. The community chose a sharp shooter and started killing the buffaloes. After killing the frst buffalo, they contemplated on what to do with the meat of the buffalo. They realized that the animal is no different from livestock in its protein content and decided that the buffalo partitioned into 20 and each partition be sold for 1 Birr (about 0.15 USD at that time) to buy bullets for the next round defense. The community tasted and found that the meat of buffaloes is delicious. The killing expanded to the nearby woredas such as Nole Kaba and Haru who commercialized buffalo meat for sale, according to community elders. One buffalo costs about 1000 Birr (abou USD 50) and then on and on. This is the beginning of bushmeat trade in Ethiopia. Later on everyone wanted to have a gun to shoot his own buffalo and have plenty of meat. In 1984, Ethiopia was struck by famine and buffalo meat remained the sole protein source to sustain the community of that area during the famine period (1984), according to community elders. In 1989 the Military Government (The Derg Regime) was over thrown and the solders dispersed in disarray where by Gun and Bullet became as plenty as bread and milk in the streets. Almost anyone who wanted to have a gun had it one or more. Farmers used this opportunity and anyone who dared to do so shot at buffaloes at random. The buffaloes were devastated; much of them dead from unprofessional shots and vultures covered the sky. Until this day buffaloes are being killed and the picture above shows poached buffaloes in the Dabena River valley on April 19, 2014. The species of this buffalo is not yet known and the DNA analysis is going on. Several species of the last remaining buffaloes are still found in this region. While poaching is taking its toll on the buffaloes and other large mammals in the Didessa River Valley, illegal settlement, and investment without Environmental Impact Assessment are soaring. This petition is to stop poaching, illegal settlement, deforestation and invasion of land in the Dabena and Didessa River valleys and the surrounding areas. The Didessa River valley and its tributaries are important not only for Ethiopia but also for other countries such as Sudan and Egypt and its conservation is an international issue.
Your Excellency, Dr. Mulatu Teshome, President of the Federal Demicratic Republic of Ethiopia,
I am internally troubled and being forced to write you this petition as I see our forests being cleared out, our wildlife being persecuted, killed and driven to extinction. If I keep silent watching these tragedies, I know that I cannot escape judgment of my own conscience and a historic dark spot in my diary.
It is a matter of choice to select between sustainability and overexploitation. Should we develop a susatainable future that our children will see or just use it now for our daily consumption? Saving species from extinction and developing national parks is building a green economy and upholding sustainable development. The history of the Anger-Didessa Statefarms shows destruction of nature, driving wilidlife to exticntion and unsustainable development. The Derg Regime destroyed hundreds of thausands of hectares of natural forest, planted corn and pepers and abundoned the farms destroying its future by planting euclayptus trees.
I was born and raised on the escarpment of the Didessa River valley and know how much wildlife and forest was there just 25 years ago. Now, no animals and no vegetation left between Bedelle and Arjo. The animals were driven from north, south, west and east to the only remaining no-mains land between six woredas and two Regional states Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz. Between Ghimbi, Nekemte, Benihsangul, and Arjo and Illubabor zones is now left a region which contains all the remaining species of animals including the endangered African Wild Dog (Tekula or Yeyii).
I was in this region for two consequetive years to study the wildlife condition of the area. During both times I was persecuted by poachers and my life was saved because of the surrounding farmers. As you see in this picture, each day buffaloes are killed by poachers.
This area can be the second Serengeti if changed to a national park. National parks create jobs for the local people, income for the country and shelter for the animals. National parks develop the country's economic sustainably. As it is known to your excellency, tourism is a smokeless industry, that benefits both nature and people. Natiranla parks are sources of tourism.
Most of this area is uninhabited and contains the last remaining wildlife of the Anger, Dabus, Didessa, Bello, Dabena and remaining highlnads. If left to itself, our children have no chance to see today's beautiful species.
About Seven woredas and two regional states must actively invlove to save the Dabena-Didessa River Valleys. The Oromia Regional State and the Benishangul Gumuz Regional State. The Seven Woredas include: Meko, Nole Kaba, Haru, Dabo Hanna, Sassiga, Ghimbi and Yaso. The mandate then becomes of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority under which the formation of a national Park is possible.
I am confident that you can make a difference. I am optimistic that the dangers facing our wildlife can be averted and sustainable development can be achieved. Stop illegal settlement, deforestation and poaching in the Dabena, Didessa, Anger, Bello and surrounding highlands through yuor proper channels. As I write this petition, animals are being killed, trees are being cut down, illegal settlements are being established and species are becoming extinct. There is not time to waste to save species.
I am very grateful in advance for your kindness for taking time and responding to my petition and your kind actions. I am alwys available at your disposal on my mobile phone: 0911664081 or my e-mal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Habte Jebessa Debella (PhD).
Addis Ababa University
College of Natural Sciences
Department of Zoological Sciences.