The Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society (EWNHS) was established in September 1966 in Addis Ababa. EWNHS has been the inception of 32 keen Ethiopian and expatriate environmentalists and advocates of sustainable use of natural resources. It was initially established as a Social Club and later on transformed to a Caretaker Committee, under patronage of Emperor Haileselassie. As a Caretaker Committee, it used to be run by Volunteers who were engaged mostly in indoor functions and outdoor excursions.
Since its establishment, most of the Society’s activities have been managed by volunteers. Through lapse of time, however, the growing volume of activities and the level of recognition accorded to the Society at national and international levels demanded the establishment of a permanent Secretariat, and the hiring of professional staff who work in collaboration with volunteers.
Accordingly, the Caretaker Committee became institutionalized in 1993 and evolved into conservation institution, focusing on promotion of Environmental Education and production of a Quasi-scientific Journal (Walia) & other thematic promotional publications, as its initial activities. As such, EWNHS is considered to be one of the pioneer non-state conservation institutions in Ethiopia to be engaged in protection of environment, conservation of biodiversity, and promotion of sustainable and equitable use of biodiversity and other natural resources.
EWNHS is a membership based non-governmental society, which is non-political, secular, not-for-profit and non-partisan grassroots conservation entity. As BirdLife International partner and member in Ethiopia, it is bird conservation focused institution and operates at national level. Given its longevity, EWNHS is a highly resilient institution that survived impacts of a series of government changes, competitions for resources among booming civil societies, and donor-driven motives and changes in funding trends.
EWNHS has been re-registered and licensed (Reg. No. 0720) as Ethiopian Residents Charity in December 2009, in accordance with the Charities and Societies Proclamation No. 621/2009. The Charities and Societies Agency, which is structured under Ministry of Federal Affairs, oversees the overall operational directions of the Society. In the past, the Society used to have a legal registration with the Ministry of Justice.
The highest organ of the society is the General Assembly of all members, spearheaded by three Office Bearers. A Board of Management (Executive Committee), elected from among members, governs the Society under guidelines from the General Assembly. The Board of Management is composed of 7 Volunteers (4 females and 3 males), who serve for a maximum of two terms of four years. A Secretariat based in Addis Ababa, headed by an Executive Director, runs the day-to-day activities of the Society, assisted by other salaried employees.