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Table 3 Season-specific bio-physical indicators of indigenous weather prediction by Afar pastoralists

From: Indigenous weather and climate forecasting knowledge among Afar pastoralists of north eastern Ethiopia: Role in adaptation to weather and climate variability

Seasons Bio-physical indicators Type of change observed Period of observation Prediction
Datrob Animals The insect locally called ka’a in Afar starts stinging animals and human beings Last week of September Datrob rains will start within a week or two.
Camels continuously and repeatedly kicking their chest during browsing Mid to end of September Datrob rains will start soon. It is said that the camels kick their chest repeatedly in an effort to fend off the qarma insects, which are the most important indicators of the coming of datrob rains.
Konaytu Stars Five groups of stars called Malhino emerge in the east during early morning Mid-October Konaytu rains come after a week time or two.
Dababa Sky Misty sky observed Early November It will rain in Dababa.
Tree Acacia melifera (Merkaeto) trees blooms Late October There will be rains mid-November.
Deda’e Sky Misty sky Mid to late November There will be Deda’e rains early December.
Winds The blowing of the woreru winds which blow from north to south November These very weak winds bring clouds and mist and cause showers during the Deda’e season.
Segum Trees Normal level of flowering of Dobera glabra (Gasraito) February Early starting and good rain in Segum
Dobera glabra (Gasraito) with too much flowers and very deep green leaves February Dry Segum or Segum rains will fail.
Flowering or blooming of Acacia senegal (Tikibleyta) February Good rains during Segum
Flowering of Acacia melifera (Merkaeto) February to early March Good rains during Segum
Flowering and deep greening of (Salvadora persica) Adayto Feburary Good rains during Segum
Animals The Kala nahra or the playing on the dirt and singing of foxes near settlements on early mornings February Good Segum rains
The feather of the bird wadartailoli turns in to glossy deep blue colour February to early March Good rains during Segum
The feather of the bird wadartailoli becomes pale and greyish February to early March Segume rains will fail or it will be to little rain
Flowering of Ureyta or alloy species February to early March Good rains during Segum
The Guma or the black male ostrich produced a deep mu-mu-mu sound throughout the day February to early March Good Segum rains coming
‘Red ants’ going out of their nest in very large numbers Early March Good Segum rains coming
Stars and sky Emergence of triplicate hotali stars early morning in the East Early March There will be good Segum rains
If the hotali stars appear as a single star or if not, all of them show up or shows up only in pairs Early March There will be drought during Segum
A big lone star, called Kahima, observed in the east at around 4:00 AM early morning Early March Good Segum rains
Dohora, a big ‘handsome’ star shows up in the west in the evening around 10:00 PM March to April Good Segum rains
Dohora shows up in the east in the evening around 10:00 PM March to April Segum rains will fail
A man milking a camel, with the camel standing east head and west tail, observes the lone kahima star over the shoulders of the camel, during camel milking early in the evening at around 7:30 AM February and March Good Segum rains
Malhino stars, a group of seven stars showing up all at once February and March Good Segum rains
When Malhino stars appear consecutively in pairs February and March Segum rains will fail or will be too little.
Red coloured sky in the west early Late January and February Good Segum rains
Coloured rings around the sun or moon February Good Segum rains
Symmetrically full moon February Good Segum rains
  The crescent with its convex side looking towards east appearing around 10–11 PM in the evening January or March Limited rains in the Segume season
The crescent with its convex side looking towards west appearing around 10–11 PM in the evening January or March Limited rains in the Segume season
Winds The Gilalta winds or the winds that blow during the Gilal, or hottest period, blowing from northern highlands to south into the Afar hinterland November to February There will be good Segum rains, according to the strength of the Gilalta rains. The stronger the wind, the better and the earlier the Segum rains. Stronger Gilalta winds may also cause earlier and steady Segum rains
Burahtu, the wind of greyness or drought that blows from east to west February This wind is said to be able to disperse whatever moisture or cloud that is available and causes rains to fail during Segum
Karma Tree Flowering of Acacis tortillis (Eepto) Late May and early June Sure sign of good rain in the Karma season
Flowering of Commiphora erythraea (Ado-Hadit) trees End of June Karma rains will continue beyond the point or time on which the tree flowers.
Flowering of Commiphora spp. (Kurbita) End of June Karma rains will continue beyond the point or time on which the tree flowers
  Flowering of Adansonia digitata (Gabita) End of June Karma rains will continue beyond the point or time on which the tree flowers
Animals Camels standing and gazing for a long time towards the Afar hinterland and insisting on travelling towards the Afar hinterland and refusing to go towards the west or the highlands Late May Karma rains will come soon. The Afar justify that the camels want to go to the Afar hinterland, as they naturally detect that there will be lush browse soon after days, because of the rain they can smell
Camels insisting on walking or travelling towards western highlands, even if they are led towards the eastern Afar hinterland Late May to early June The Karma rains will fail and this is said to make the camels to look for browse in the highlands, as they detect that there will not be rain in the lowlands
Excessive foam production by camel, cattle and goats Late May to early June Karma rains will come soon. The excessive foaming is said to be caused by animals browse on the flowers of Acacia tortillis (Eepto), which cause a lot of foaming during regurgitation.
Excessive singing of melodious song early morning by a bird called dadohoyta Late May to early June This will indicate that the Karma rains will come soon and they will be good.
The feathers of Wadartailoli bird turn into glossy deep blue Late May to early June The Karma rains will be good.
The feathers of Wadartailoli bird become greyish Late May to early June The Karma rains will fail.
A bird species called Sae’tailoli starts following goats when they brow and go to rivers for drinking Early to mid-June Karma rains will come, or if it is already raining, it will continue to rain.
The Kukueta bird start singing the koda or the milk churning song with a very smoothly flowing tone Early June The Karma rains will come and it will be good, with plenty of milk and milk-based food such as butter
The kukueta bird either fails to sing the koda song, or when it sings it will be in a half hazard and very broken tone Early June Karma rains will fail.
The coming out of ‘black ants’ from their nest and going in half hazard way and not in straight line Early June Drought or limited rains during Karma
During the ant-rout experiment, the black ‘jump about’ ants avoid running or passing through artificial ditches May and June Good rains in Karma
During the ant-rout experiment, the black jump about ants run or pass though the artificial ditches May and June Drought or failure of rains in the Krama
Too many black beetles (dung beetles) collecting dung rolls Early to mid-June There will be good rains during the Karma season.
Wind Kuya, a wind that blows from west (highlands) to east in the Afar hinterland Late May to early June Karma rains will soon start.
Strong silayto winds blowing, with a whizzing sound from the western highlands to the Afar hinterland
Weak Silayto winds
May and June Stronger winds indicate the coming of good Karma rains and weaker or no winds indicate no karma rains
  Stars, the sky and moon Coloured rings around the sun and moon May and June Good Karma rains will start soon
Emergence of a symmetrically full moon May Good Karma rains will start soon