The BINCO team, supported by Birdlife international and CEPF (Critical Ecosystem Partnership fund), is again active in Ethiopia for a new project. Our work is based in Masha, a village within the Sheka UNESCO biosphere reserve, surrounded by large tracts of forest in the Southwest of Ethiopia. In a welcoming atmosphere, MELCA, an Ethiopian ngo, already selected a potential group of 5 locally embedded trainees, and it was nice to see that they all differed in background and age. These trainees have now successfully followed an intensive three weeks desk training on sustainable forest management, vertebrate biodiversity and biodiversity monitoring, resulting in some interesting presentations, workshops and group discussions. The first days of practical training have, obviously, resulted in some slapstick moments (e.g. binoculars that were used upside down), but in general it was a very interesting experience for all of us. Now we plan to continue these practical sessions and, more and more, increase the experience of the trainees to build up to standardized biodiversity monitoring and forest protection. The area is a promising biodiversity hotspot indeed, and the trainees were not at all surprised to find two endemic and threatened species of Banana frog (one Vulnerable and one Endangered on the IUCN red list) sheltering in the same Banana plant at a small river bed. Only later we found out that it is not that exceptional here, to find multiple threatened species on the same location, when we discovered a mule carcass surrounded by four species of vulture (all of them Critically Endangered). We are looking forward to further exploring the forest and hope that our trainees will find more interesting discoveries in the near future.
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