The annual Great Ethiopian Run (GER), which was held on January 10th, had been identified as one of the prime contributors to Ethiopia’s bird conservation efforts. One of the main facets of conservation that the race contributes to is bird-safe infrastructure throughout the country.
The theme of the struggle that marathon runners go through to cross the finish line was associated with the struggles that bird flocks go through during their annual migration. Focusing on the challenges that birds face at an event like GER was intended to raise awareness and mitigate infrastructural challenges that birds face on their journeys.
According to conservation experts electrocution and collision with power lines are the biggest man-made challenges to safe travel that birds face. Estimates of the mortality range from the high hundred thousands to millions.
BirdLife International, one of the partners of the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society (EWNHS), was one of the sponsors for the run. The organization participated in the event under the ‘Egyptian Vulture New LIFE’ initiative which is being implemented in 14 different countries across Europe and Africa.
Egyptian Vultures, an endangered species, are a species that frequently fall victim to power lines. The birds annually roost in Ethiopia’s Eastern region and lose thousands during the journey to and back from Ethiopia.