Field work in the Great Rift Valley

The land behind Lakew’s house in Fiche drops 2000 metres into the Great Rift Valley; it becomes teff and grain crops, and salty white river banks, as far as the eye can see in any direction.

Actually, this tectonic rift, or trench, runs more than 6000kms from Syria in Southwest Asia, through Ethiopia and down to central Mozambique – and from here, all of Africa’s Great Lakes were formed.

It was on the slopes and crags of one cliff face (which we were also told is one of the top hang-glide launch pads in Africa!) where we would spend an afternoon in the high plateau sun; collecting and tagging native herbs for identification at the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation.

We set off with Lakew, Dr. Tesfaye and the Fiche men who knew this ground so well. We came back with a mini living pharmacy of plants and a troop of ten local boys, out of school for the afternoon, who called themselves ‘The Soccer Team’.

Here is some footage of this incredible place…

3 Comments on “Field work in the Great Rift Valley

  1. Hi Rowena
    Yes, it has been identified as Aloe pulcherrima (Amharic: set eret) – one of about 46 species of aloe found in Ethiopia. It grows on cliffs in high altititude areas. We spoke to local herbalists in Fiche who told us that this plant is getting harder to find and is often inaccessible. So we set off to look for it with the help of Dr. Tesfaye, and these boys located it for us down the hillside where you see the escarpment in the film footage. One of the applications mentioned is as a topical for wounds, much like we would use Aloe vera.

  2. amazing landscape in the video, and I loved the music. Was that and Aloe that the boys were digging out, or something native to Ethiopia? Row

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