Yabello National Park lies 565 Km south of Addis Ababa on the Awasa-Moyale highway. It is 10km east of Yabello town in Borena Zone, Oromia Regional State.Yabelo Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area and wildlife sanctuary in southern Ethiopia. It is located in the Borena Zone of the Oromia Region west of the town of Yabelo, having an area of 2,500 square kilometers and elevations ranging from 1430 to 2000 meters above sea level with a latitude and longitude of 4°55′N 38°25′ECoordinates: 4°55′N 38°25′E. It was primarily set up to protect and conserve the Swayne’s Hartbeest Alcelaphus buselaphus swaynii, an endemic Hrtbeest. While the average elevation throughout is 1700 masl, it can range from 1400 to 2000 masl. Areas around Yabello recive an annual rainfall of around 700 mm. The main rainy season extends from April to May. Shorter and less reliable rains occur during October. Mean annual temperature is 190C with a mean minimum and maximum of 13 and 250C, respectively. High temperature are usually recorded from January to February. The dominant vegetation community is savannah with different woody and herbaceous plants. The major trees are Acacia drepanalobium, A.brevispica, and A. horida. Lower altitudes exhibit Balanties aegyptiaca and Commiphora-Terminalia Vegitation mixtures. Juniperus procera and Olea europea subsp cuspidate forests used to cover most of the hills in the past. Remnant forest trees can still be observes around the hills surrounding Yabello even today. The Borena pastoralists are the dominant tribe here and they still practice pastoralism in the rangelands of Borena. The park is important for a number of mammals as well as rare bird species. At least 210 species of birds have been recorded of which 62 are Somali-Masai Biome species. Mammal species include Swayne’s Hartebeest, Burchell’s Zebra, Gerenuk, Grant ’s gazelle and Guenther’s Dik-Dik. Unique features The park affords protection to the endemic Swayne’s Hartebeest and is the home of the endemic and vulnerable Ethiopian Bush Crow and White-tailed Swallow are also restricted-range species. Other non-endemic but globally threatened species includes the Taita Falcon. With 62 Somali-Masai Biome birds, the site affords protection to 64% of Ethiopia’s Somali-Masai Biome assemblage. Other interesting birds found here include Ostrich, Short-tailed Larck, Pringle’s puff-back, Northern Grey Tit, Abyssinian Grosbeak Canary, Vulturine Guinea Fowl, Somali Sparrow, Black-capped social Weaver, Donaldson-Smith Nightjar, Star-spotted Nightjar, Grey-headed Social Weaver and Magpie Starling. The site is good for Burchell’s Zebra and smaller numbers of Grant’s Gazelle and Gerenuk.
The area of the Sanctuary is notable for its red soils which have little organic matter. The general vegetation-type is Acacia savanna, the major trees being A. drepanolobium on black cotton soil, and A. brevispica and A. horrida on the slopes. There are also patches of Balanites aegyptiaca, and several species of Commiphora and Terminalia at the lower altitudes. The higher parts of the hills were formerly covered with forest dominated by Juniperus procera and Olea europaea cuspidata.Endemic species of birds found in this protected area include Stresemann’s Bushcrow and White-tailed Swallow.
Yabelo reportedly suffers from a great deal of deforestation, and illegal hunting of the spotted cats and ostrich is common. Some ex-servicemen have also settled within the sanctuary boundaries.