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The Great Ethiopian Run 2020 supports bird protection in Ethiopia

Vultures provide vital ecosystem services by removing carcasses and other organic waste from the environment. This performance leads to significant health and economic benefits. In the absence of vultures, carcasses take much longer to decompose, and therefore they are likely to spread more diseases. However, Africa’s vultures are currently in sharp decline and are the most endangered group of birds on the continent. As part of the National Electrification Program, Ethiopia will build thousands of new power lines over the next five years that could wipe out the vultures in the country. However, the risk of electric shock can be completely eliminated if a bird-proof mast construction is used. Safe power lines inevitably lead to direct advantages for energy suppliers and consumers.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 20th edition of the GER planned for Sunday, November 15, 2020, has been postponed to January 10, 2021. However, the GER organizers held a smaller event on November 15th for the 20th anniversary of the GER. Around 200 people, including 120 bikers, gathered in the newly opened Entoto Nature Park in Addis Ababa for the first run-bike relay race, in which 29 teams with 4 team members and a total distance of 20 km took part. Three government ministers attended the event, including the Head of Tourism in Ethiopia, the Minister of Transport and the Minister of State for Culture and Tourism. They were accompanied by three of Ethiopia’s top athletes including recently crowned London Marathon winner Shura Kitata, Mosinet Geremew and Ababel Yeshana.

BirdLife International, through its partnership with the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society (EWNHS), was one of the sponsors and VIP participants of the event as part of the “Egyptian Vulture New LIFE” project. The winners of the race were generously honored. Overall, the event was very lively with music and extraordinary stage organizers who engaged the racing drivers and provided them with energy and conveyed a good feeling for sportiness. The main event in January 2021 is expected to have more than 12,000 participants, the 10 km wearing green, yellow or red t-shirts with messages about bird protection.

    © Bruktawit Abdu

“It is really very good and unique for Ethiopia to hold an event in an ideal nature conservation and recreation center in the Entoto Nature Park. It is also a great opportunity to further increase our commitment to the green heritage that Ethiopia began a few years ago to cover deforested areas with trees. Various BirdLife partners in Africa are now involved in a project to preserve the Egyptian vulture. The project is carried out in 14 different countries in Europe and Africa. We will raise awareness through various platforms over the next two months, ”concludes Samson Cellke from EWNHS.

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