Babille Elephant Sanctuary

Wildlife Reserve in Eastern Ethiopia

Despite considerable tree cutting, livestock grazing and land encroachment, Babille is better protected than many of Ethiopia’s national parks, and the population of elephants (which some authorities identify as a unique subspecies, Loxodonta africana orleansi) has risen to around 400. Also resident, though unlikely to be seen, are lions (notable for their black manes), leopards, Menelik’s bushbucks, Soemmerring’s gazelles and greater and lesser kudus. The bird list is at least 227 species strong.

The best way to see the elephants is to drive through the Erer Valley, which comprises the majority of the 6982-sq-km sanctuary, to near where they were last spotted and then get out and walk. With enough patience and perseverance you stand a good chance (but no guarantee) of finding them. They prefer the thick brush so are difficult to see clearly, but you can often get quite close. Wear long trousers; there are many thorn trees and cacti.

The signed turn-off is 20km from Harar on the Jijiga road at Kile, and then it’s another 12km to the office. Except during heavy rain, a taxi or minibus can handle the road through the reserve.

Camping (per tent Birr20) is allowed anywhere, but there are no facilities.