The Horn of Africa is one of two hotspots that are made entirely of desert. The hotspot stretches 1,659,363 kilometers squared. This hotspot is one of the most degraded hotspots in the world. It only has about 5% of its original habitat remaining.
The Horn of Africa is one of the eight biodiversity hotspots is Africa. Even though this hotspot is 1,659,363 kilometers squared, a large part of the area has very limited plants.
The Horn of Africa has a lot of human activities. Almost all of the land is used for grazing. Areas with vegetation are burned to use for grazing also. In Somalia the greatest threat to biodiversity is charcoal production. The charcoal is used for exports to other countries and domestic needs.
It is hard to start conserving because of the lack of governance. Aid for this region is very scarce.
On Socotra, threats to the area include new roads, an airport and other new buildings. There are lots of threats to biodiversity.
Uncontrolled hunting is also a serious threat to this hotspot.
Inhabitants of the Horn of Africa
There are many kinds of plants and animals in the Horn of Africa.
There are 5,000 plant species, 220 mammals, 697 birds, 285 reptiles, 30 amphibians, and 100 freshwater fish. Out of those plants and animals 2,750 plant species, 20 mammals, 24 birds, 93 reptiles, 6 amphibians, and 10 freshwater fish are found only in this hotspot.
For many years, a few native trees have provided materials for some of the hotspot's most important commodities such as frankincense (from Boswellia sacra in Somalia, Yemen and Oman, and B. frereana in Somalia), myrrh (from the widespread Commiphor myrrha and C. guidottii in Somalia and eastern Ethiopia) and dragon’s blood or cinnabar (from Dracaena cinnabari, EN found on Socotra).
There are many spectacular plants in the Horn of Africa like the amazing cucumber tree. It has a huge trunk for storing water. Another plant is the daban. It is harvested for use in constructing homes and drainage pipes. It is now found in only a few places in the hotspot.
Many new species of plants have been discovered in the past years so the number of plants in the hotspot might be changing.
The plants and animals in this hotspot are threatened with extinction. Many of them are likely to become extinct if what is happening now continues. Read on to find out what we are trying to do to protect this hotspot.
How This Hotspot is Protected
The Horn of Africa’s 41 protected areas cover about 9% of the land area. In Oman, there is the huge Arabian Oryx Sanctuary which is a Natural World Heritage Site famous for the successful reintroduction of the Endangered Arabian oryx ( Oryx leucoryx), and the Jebel Samhan National Nature Reserve which is home to a population of Arabian leopards ( Panthera pardus minor, CR), a critically endangered subspecies.
The Horn of Africa still suffers from lack of conservation. There is still hope because in the future an increase in conservation might do the job. Clearly this is an area worth protecting!