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Eritrea: Eritrea Environment Profile 2012






Eritrea Environment Profile 2012

In theory, the government promotes environmental protection and engages in measures to upgrade the environment such as planting trees and terracing, activities sometimes performed by national service conscripts. The rising number of commercial farms in the western lowlands is likely to have a negative impact on the environment. The same is true for the forced growth of the use of wood and charcoal for cooking purposes, stemming from the lack of kerosene. As there is virtually no industrial growth and very limited exploitation of coastal and marine resources, the degree of environmental pollution is low, but it is questionable whether the government would adhere to its environmental standards in the case of real economic growth.

Eritrea formerly supported a large population of elephants. Ptolemaic kings of Egypt used it as a source of war elephants in the third century BC. Between 1955 and 2001 there were no reported sightings of elephant herds, and they were thought to have fallen victim to the war of independence. In December 2001 a herd of about 30, including 10 juveniles, was observed in the vicinity of the Gash River. The elephants seemed to have formed a symbiotic relationship with olive baboons. It is estimated that there are around 100 elephants left in Eritrea, the most northerly of East Africa's elephants.

In 2006, Eritrea announced it would become the first country in the world to turn its entire coast into an environmentally protected zone. The 1,347 km (837 mile) coastline, along with another 1,946 km (1,209-miles) of coast around its more than 350 islands, will come under governmental protection.