Anthropogenic threats to five wildlife protected areas (PAs) in Ethiopia: Omo, Mago, Chebera Churchura and Kafta Sheraro National Parks, and Babille Elephant Sanctuary were studied. The study specific objectives were to: (i) establish the relative severity of threat factors to the PAs and susceptibility of the PAs; (ii) explore underlying causes of the threats; and, (iii) identify appropriate threat mitigation measures. A semi-structured questionnaire survey was administered to 25 most experienced staffs of the PAs. Indexes of threat factor severity and vulnerability of PAs to these threats were calculated and the ‘Theory of Change Model’ to identify threat mitigation measures was used. Twelve major threat factors operating in the five PAs were identified. Five (~39%) of the threat factors were operating at higher level than the average RTFSI score, with wildlife poaching, subsistence farming and overgrazing being the three top severe threats. Babille Elephant Sanctuary, and Kafta Sheraro and Omo National Parks appeared to be susceptible to the majority of threat factors identified. The underlying causes of the threat factors were almost similar across the PAs and included several factors such as political, socio-economic and ecological. The impacts of these threat factors on biodiversity and mitigation strategies are discussed in detail.
Key words: Anthropogenic threats, management effectiveness, poaching, protected area susceptibility, theory of change model, threat severity.