Ethiopia is one of the richest Nations in Africa in wild life, Birds, Fauna and Flora Mammals as well as the like; there are 14 major wildlife reserves and National Parks in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia provides a microcosm of the entire sub-Saharan ecosystem. Bird life abounds, and indigenous animals from the rare Walia ibex to the shy wild ass, roam free just as nature intended. Ethiopia, after the rains, is a land decked with flowers and with many more native plants than most countries in Africa.

                                     

Nechisar National Park
Nechisar National Park (amharic for white grass) is located in eastern North Omo Zone near Arba Minch, named after the white grass that covers the undulating Nechisar plains, hosting the lakes Abaya and Chamo.

Nechisar National Park is in eastern North Omo Zone. The zonal capital, Arba Minch, is on the western border of the park. Arba Minch is 510 km south of the capital Addis Ababa and 279 km south-west of the regional capital Awassa. Nechisar is named after the white grass that covers the undulating Nechisar plains and contrasts with the black basalt rocks of the Amaro Mountains to the east, and the black soils of the plains.

Around 15% of the park comprises portions of Lakes Abaya to the north and Chamo to the south. The water of Lake Abaya is always brown or red-brown, in contrast with Lake Chamo which has strikingly blue water and white sandy beaches. The park also covers the neck of land between the lakes which supports groundwater forest. At the foot of Mt Tabala in the south-east there are hot springs. The altitude ranges from 1,108m at the shore of Lake Chamo to 1,650m on Mt Kalia in the north-east.

The main habitats of Nechisar National Park are the lakes, their shorelines, the groundwater forest and connecting river, the dry grassy plains, thick bushland and the wooded valleys and foothills of the Amaro Mountains. Most of the park is covered in bushland, which is thick and impenetrable in places, the taller trees including Combretum spp., Dichrostachys cinerea, Acacia tortilis, Balanites aegyptiaca and occasional Acacia nilotica. In the southern part of the park, Dobera glabra and Acacia tortilis form open woodland. The grassland is edaphic, the underlying soil being calcareous black clay. The most widespread grass species is Chrysopogon aucheri.

The forest between the two lakes and by the Kulfo river is dominated by Ficus sycamorus up to 30m tall. This same area supports a number of shrubs and scramblers, but few herbs on the forest floor. The freshwater swamps at the mouth of the Kulfo River and in Lake Chamo are dominated by Typha angustifolia, tall waterside grasses, e.g. Saccharum spontaneum, and the small leguminous trees, Sesbania sesban and the legume Aeschynomene elaphroxylon.

Around
Arba Minch is an important regional centre and meeting place for people from the southern parts of the Great Rift Valley. There is a crocodile farm near Lake Abaya. Both lakes have good populations of fish, including nile perch, and there is a small, modern fishing industry. Crocodiles thrive in Lake Chamo and are being culled commercially for their highly prized skins. Extensive areas to the west of Lake Abaya were cleared in the 1960s and 1970s to establish large-scale mechanized farms for cotton and other lowland crops.

Some note on birds
Falco naumanni occurs on passage, with a few birds possibly wintering. Similarly, Circus macrourus is fairly common on passage, with some wintering. Small numbers of Phoenicopterus minor occur on Lakes Chamo and Abaya. Somali?Masai biome species typical of bushland habitats include Phoeniculus somaliensis, Lanius dorsalis and Cisticola bodessa. The open plains support three species that are little known in Ethiopia: an isolated population of Mirafra albicauda (unknown elsewhere in Ethiopia), the endemic Caprimulgus solala (known from just one record) and the rare C. stellatus. The plains support populations of two other nightjars, Caprimulgus fraenatus and C. donaldsoni. The south-western corner of Lake Abaya supports one of only two Ethiopian populations of Myrmecocichla albifrons. Other notable species include Aviceda cuculoides, Macheiramphus alcinus, Chelictinia riocourii, Gypaetus barbatus, Accipiter ovampensis, Francolinus levaillantii, Podica senegalensis, Schoutedenapus myoptilus, Coracina caesia and Serinus reichardi.


Gambella National Park
Gambella National Park is in the centre of Gambella Region. It lies between the Baro and Gilo rivers, the Baro River forming the northern boundary, 15 km south of Gambella town. The centre of the park, Abobo, is 82 km south of Gambella town. The park is the largest protected area in Ethiopia.
The general topography is flat with some areas of higher ground where deciduous woodland and savanna occur. The higher areas are often rocky with large termite mounds. The park also supports extensive areas of wet grassland and swamps with grasses growing over 3 m tall. Other important habitats include the rivers, their banks and the oxbow lakes. Traditionally, the Anuakand Abigar (Nuer) peoples who live in the area graze their animals throughout the park, grow a few crops on the riverbanks and hunt for game-meat. Presently many refugees from southern Sudan have moved into the park, and some of the settlements set up for the highland people brought to the Gambella plains after the 1984?1985 drought and famine have remained populated.

More than 230 species have been recorded in the park. Balaeniceps rex was recorded in the early 1960s, 20 km west of Gambella. There are recent anecdotal reports of the species breeding in the Abobo area, suggesting that it may be present seasonally in swamps within the park. Acrocephalus griseldis was recorded regularly between 1969 and 1976, but its current status is unknown. Sudan?Guinea Savanna biome species include: Merops bulocki, Eremomela pusilla, Cisticola ruficeps, C. troglodytes, Plocepasser superciliosus, Lagonosticta larvata and Vidua interjecta, the last-named being known in Ethiopia only from around Gambella. Three Afrotropical Highlands and four Somali?Masai biome species have been recorded. Other species include Platalea leucorodia (rarely recorded from the south and west of Ethiopia), Kaupifalco monogrammicus (little-known in Ethiopia), Campethera cailliautii and Acrocephalus melanopogon. The only Ethiopian record of Vanellus crassirostris is from Gambella.

This Park was proposed to help protect the diverse and abundant wildlife, particularly the thousands of White eared Kob that migrated to and from the park each year. Even though proposals to set up this conservation area have been planned since 1973, there has been almost no development activity. The area proposed is very large and the available infrastructure is completely inadequate to manage it effectively. Excessive hunting seriously affects the larger mammals in the area. The civil war in Sudan has made firearms readily available and large numbers of refugees have moved into the park. Local people traditionally use bush-meat, and formerly hunted only with spears, traps, etc. Now both the local and commercial hunters use rifles and automatic weapons. The woodlands and forests within the park are being cut, with the wood sold in Gambella town for construction and fuel. Visitors have reported a noticeable reduction in the woody vegetation both inside and outside the park. The park is frequently burnt: the fires are started when the ground is still moist to control the long grass and thus open up access to the new growth for cattle to graze. The biggest threat to the park is the Alwero dam and the proposed expansion of irrigated farms to areas currently inside the park.


Yangudi_Rassa National Park
Yangudi-Rassa National Park is in the centre of the Afar Region (in the northern section of the Rift Valley) between the towns of Gewani and Mille, and 500 km from Addis Ababa. Yangudi Mountain lies on its south-eastern boundary, and is surrounded by the Rassa plains. Habitats include Riverine forests along the Awash River, marshes and small lakes, dry riverbeds, rocky hills, sandy semi-desert and wooded grasslands.

The wild ass
The sandy semi-desert and wooded grassland make up the largest portion of the park. The two main ethnic groups inhabiting this area are the Afars and the Issas. Ethnic feuds have been frequent between them, but most of the park happens to be in an area where they avoid each other.
More than 230 bird species have been recorded in this area. Being situated on an important migration flyway, many migratory species have been found including Falco naumanni and Circus macrourus, both of which are recorded regularly on migration and during the winter. Other species of interest include Phoenicopterus minor, Petronia brachydactyla and Ardeotis arabs.

The park was proposed in 1977 specifically to protect wild Ass. Besides the wildlife, the park is also important for safeguarding a 50-km strip of rich archaeological remains along the eroded hills near the Awash river. Active management of the park?s resources is minimal, with protection arising primarily as a result of the extremely harsh environment and its position as a no-man?s land between rival pastoralists/ethnic groups. The military has previously killed large numbers of herbivores within the park.

Simien Mountains National Park
Massive erosion over the years on the Ethiopian plateau has created one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1500m. The park is home to some extremely rare animals such as the Gelada baboon, the Ethiopian Wolf and the Walia ibex, a goat found nowhere else in the world.

The simien mountain massif is one of the major highlands of Africa, rising to the highest point in Ethiopia, Ras Dejen (4543m), which is the fourth highest peak in the continent. Although in Africa and not too far from the equator, snow and ice appear on the highest points and night temperatures often fall below zero.

The national park has three general botanical regions. The lower slopes have been cultivated and grazed, while the alpine regions ( up to 3600m) were forested, although much has now disappeared. The higher lands are mountain grasslands with fescue grasses as well as heathers, splendid Red Hot Pokers and Giant Lobelia.

The park was created primarily to protect the Walia Ibex, a type of wild goat, and over 1000 are said to live in the park. Also in the park are families of the Gelada Baboon and the rare Ethiopian Wolf. The Ethiopian Wolf, although named after the mountains, is rarely seen by the visitor. Over 50 species of birds have been reported in the Simien Mountains.

Access to the park is from Debark, 101 km from Gonder, where riding & pack animals may be hired. This should be arranged in advance through your local tour operator or the Office of the Wildlife Conservation Department.

Awash National Park
Awash National Park is located 225 km east of Addis Ababa, the Park stretches 30km east to west and a little less from north to south. The terrain is mainly acacia woodland and grassland.

Wildlife:
At all places and all times it is possible to see game: Oryx, Soemmerring's gazelle and wild pig are common. Slightly less frequent are the furry waterbuck which tend to appear near the river in the late afternoon. The tiny Dik-dik, not easy to spot in the speckled shade of the acacia thorn, zebra grazing the plains to the west of Fantale, cheetah, serval and leopard are also there but it is not easy to spot them; baboons, both Anubis and Hamadryas, kudus, lesser and greater, the giant tortoise, hippo, reedbuck, aardvark and caracal are also represented. Klipspringer inhabits the higher slopes of the mountain and curious hyrax peer at you curiously from behind their rocks. In the bottom of the gorge you can spot the black and white Colobus monkey.

Birdlife:
Over four hundred species are recorded for the park: (The check list is available at the museum at park Head quarters). They range from the great ostrich, frequently and easily observed, and the less common Secretary Bird and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, to the flashes of brilliant pink which are the Carmine Bee-eaters, and the Abyssinian Roller with turquoise and purple, wings. And between these two extremes, birds of the Riverine forest, Coucal, Turaco, Go-away Birds; birds of prey; and birds of the savannah.

Attraction:
The Park itself is traversed by a series of well-maintained tracks, which take in the most spectacular of the many scenic attractions. It is possible, and perhaps advisable, to hire a park guide. To the north at Filwoha lies the hot springs oasis in its groves of palm trees. It is reached by either one of two scenic tracks which start opposite the main gate on the far side of the road and bearing right, progress either along the floor of the Awash Falls lower Valley or along the top of the ridge. The Awash river gorge in the south of the park has some spectacular waterfalls near the park headquarters.

Access:
Less than three hours drive from Addis Ababa, or one and a half from Nazaret is the Awash National park and Game Reserve. The main entrance is at the 190 km. mark and you have already passed the park boundary as you crossed the railway track just before Fantalle Crater, which rises 600 m. from the valley floor on the left. At this point there is a track to the left and it is possible to drive either up to the crater rim or right round the park to the hot springs although the road is such that the prospect will not tempt everyone. It is probably wiser to enter the main gate first and travel comfortably down towards the Awash River which constitutes the southern boundary of the park. Here is park Headquarters, sited near the dramatic Awash falls where the river enters its gigantic gorge.

Accommodation:
A small bar and museum are conveniently near the camping site. The main lodge is several kilometres away across the IIala Sala plains: perched on the very rim of the gorge are several luxurious air-conditioned caravans and just on the edge, a restaurant and small swimming pool.

Awash National Park is located 225 km east of Addis Ababa, the Park stretches 30km east to west and a little less from north to south. The terrain is mainly acacia woodland and grassland.

Omo National Park
Omo National Park is on the west bank of the Omo River in the lower Omo valley. The park is c.140 km long, stretching from the Neruze River in the south to the Sharum plain in the north, and up to 60 km wide where the Park Headquarters are situated. Major land features include the Omo River on the east, the Maji Mountains and the Sharum and Sai plains in the north and west, and the Lilibai plains and Dirga Hills to the south.

There are three hot springs, and the park is crossed by a number of rivers, all of which drain into the Omo. The important Mui River crosses the middle of the park. Much of the park is at c.800m but the southern part by the Neruze river drops to 450 m. The highest peak in the Maji Mountains is 1,541 m. The edges of the Omo River, which borders the park along its length to the east, are covered by close stands of tall trees including Tamarindus indica, Ficus sycamorus and F. salicifolia, Kigelia aethiopium, Phoenix reclinata, Terminalia brownii, Acacia polyacantha and others. A well-developed shrub layer combined with woody and herbaceous climbers provides dense cover along the edge of the river which, however, is frequently broken by incoming streams and the activities of the local people and animals (particularly Hippo). Away from the river edge, dense stands of Euphorbia tirucalli abound, the canopies shading standing water long after the rains have abated. The park also embraces extensive open grasslands interspersed with stands of woodland species, and bush vegetation.

The park is home to the Surma, Mogudge and Dizi peoples, with the Bume(yanyatong) making much use of areas in the south and the Mursi crossing the Omo River from the east. These people are pastoralists and hunter-gatherers, but also cultivate a few crops on the river levees, and make extensive use of the river?s resources. They hunt wild animals for meat, skins and items to sell, in particular elephant tusks. The lower Omo valley as a whole, including Omo and Mago National Parks, is one of the least-developed in terms of modern-day investments.

The poor road network in the region is perhaps one reason why the area has stayed intact. This has assisted in delaying the destruction of the lifestyles of the people who live there as well as the balance of natural resources on which they depend. The track from Jinka in the east to the edge of the Omo River is only accessible in the dry season (August?February). Another track, from Maji to the Omo National Park on the west, is almost impassable and is mostly used only by Omo National Park vehicles and a few other adventurous visiting groups.

Omo National Park was established to conserve the area?s rich wildlife and develop the area for tourism. However, the potential of the Omo River (between the two parks) for recreation and tourism activities has not been fully realized. Since the mid-1970s, the National Parks Omo to the west and Mago to the east of the river?have not been able to attract many visitors, largely as a result of the communication barrier created by the Omo River and the very poor tourist facilities in the parks. This is now being remedied. As from 1993, the number of visitors coming to the lower Omo has been increasing: private tour companies bring tourists to the edge of the river in the dry seasons. The visitors come to enjoy the wildlife, to meet the Mursi and some of the other ethnic groups. Hunting camp along the high banks of the Omo, in Murle, now serves as a well-maintained safari Lodge.

The current bird list for the park is 312 species. The riverine forest along the Omo River is important for several different bird groups, including herons and egrets, kingfishers, barbets, chats and thrushes, woodpeckers, pigeons, shrikes, warblers and flycatchers. Halcyon malimbica is a recent discovery in these forests. Somali?Masai biome species include Laniarius ruficeps, Turdus tephronotus, Cisticola bodessa, Lonchura griseicapilla and Plocepasser donaldsoni. Phoeniculus damarensis, Turdoides tenebrosus and T. plebejus are also present. Palearctic species, especially waders, are fond of the hot springs at Illibai. In the dry grassland around these springs Cercopsis egregia has been recorded, one of the few places known for the species in southern Ethiopia. In addition, two species of the Sudan?Guinea Savanna biome have been recorded at this site.

Omo National Park is vitally important for the diverse and abundant wildlife, yet it does not have legal status. It was established in 1966 for wildlife protection and until the mid-1970s the park developed successfully. However, during the subsequent 20 years, both the infrastructure and staff morale deteriorated dramatically. The European Union has started a pilot development scheme in the region to enhance tourism potential and the capacity of park personnel.

Mago National Park
Mago National Park is in South Omo Zone, 35 km south-west of Jinka, the administrative centre of the Zone. The park lies to the north of a large 90? bend in the Omo River. To the west is the Tama Wildlife Reserve, with the Tama River forming the boundary. South of the Omo river is the Murle Controlled Hunting Area, with an important wetland?Lake Dipa?beside the river.

The Mago River flows through the centre of the park and joins the Neri river at Mago swamp, before continuing southwards as the Usno to join the Omo River. The river, which is 760 km long, originates in the central, south-western highlands of Ethiopia, where it is known as the Gibe. Its final destination is Lake Turkana, close to the Kenyan border.

The altitude at the edge of the park is c.400 m. To the east are the Mursi Hills, rising to over 1,600 m. North of the Neri river are the Mago mountains with the highest point, Mt Mago, at 2,528 m. The south-eastern quarter of the park is crossed by many small streams and rivers. The headquarters for the park are by the Neri River, near the entrance from Jinka. The main habitats of the park and surrounding area are the rivers and riverine forest, the wetlands of Mago swamp and Lake Dipa, the bushland, savanna grassland and open grassland on the more level areas, and bushland and scrub on the sides of the hills. Open grassland comprises just 9% of the area, the rest of the area being described as ?very dense?. The largest trees are found in the riverine forest beside the Omo, Mago and Neri. Areas along the lower Omo (within the park) are populated with a rich diversity of ethnic groups including the Ari, Banna, Bongoso, Hamer, Karo, Kwegu, Male and Mursi peoples. A number of these groups live beside the river and make extensive use of its natural resources and its levees to grow crops.

The park list currently stands at 301 species, including Somali?Masai biome species such as Acryllium vulturinum, Trachyphonus darnaudii, T. erythrocephalus, Mirafra hypermetra, M. poecilosterna, Tchagra jamesi, Lanius dorsalis, Prinia somalica, Nectarinia nectarinioides, Plocepasser donaldsoni and Speculipastor bicolor. Sudan?Guinea Savanna biome species are represented by the extremely uncommon Turdoides tenebrosus in dense riparian thicket at Lake Dipa and elsewhere, and Estrilda troglodytes in rank grass along streams and swamp edges. Other species of interest include Phoeniculus damarensis, which has a very limited distribution in the south of the country, Porphyrio alleni (at least 50) and Butorides striatus (80+) at Lake Dipa, Pluvianus aegypticus and Scotopelia peli along the Omo River and Cossypha niveicapilla in the undergrowth of riverine forest.

Bale National Park
Bale Mountains National Park is an area of high altitude plateau that is broken by numerous spectacular volcanic plugs and peaks, beautiful alpine lakes and rushing mountain streams that descend into deep rocky gorges on their way to the lowlands below.

As you ascend into the mountains you will experience changes in the vegetation with altitude, from juniper forests to heather moorlands and alpine meadows, which at various times of year exhibit an abundance of colourful wildflowers.

Bale Mountains National Park is the largest area of Afro-Alpine habitat in the whole of the continent. It gives the visitor opportunities for unsurpassed mountain walking, horse trekking, scenic driving and the chances to view many of Ethiopia's endemic mammals, in particular the Mountain Nyala and Ethiopian Wolf, and birds, such as the Thick-billed Raven, Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged Goose, and Rouget's Rail.

The climate of the Bale Mountains, as is to be expected in a high altitude mountainous region, is characterized by a high rainfall and periods of damp cloudy weather, interspersed with periods of sparkling sunny weather with brilliant blue skies. The climatic year can be roughly divided into three seasons -the dry, early wet and wet seasons. The dry season is usually from November to February. Very little rain is experienced and temperatures on the clear sunny days may rise to as high as nearly 30? centigrade. Nights are star-filled, clear and cold, usually with heavy ground frosts. Temperatures may fall between minus 6? and minus 15? centigrade in the main peak area of the Park. This is the best period to visit the National Park, especially for walking and horse trekking in the high mountain area. The vegetation can get very dry in the dry season, and fires must then be very carefully tended.

The early wet season lasts from March to June, and about two-thirds as much rain falls in this period, as in the wet season from July to October. Throughout these eight months, days are generally cooler and nights warmer than in the dry season. Despite the wetter weather, the area can still be enjoyed with adequate warm and weatherproof clothing. Bright sunny periods may be experienced at any time. Snow has been recorded, but does not lie around for very long.

South of the Harenna escarpment, the land falls precipitously to a large area of dense Podocarpus forest, that slopes gradually down to an altitude of 1 500 m at the southern Park boundary. A few kilometres further on the land changes abruptly to open wooded grasslands, with higher temperatures and the surprising sight of camels in the area of Dolo-Mena.

The Mountains are most famous as home and refuge of the endemic Mountain Nyala and Ethiopian Wolf. Both these mammals occur in reasonable numbers, and visits to the Gaysay area, and the Sanetti plateau will ensure you see both. The Mountain Nyala is a large antelope in the spiral-horned antelope family. Males are a dark brown colour with a pair of gently spiraled horns with white tips. They bear handsome white markings on the face, neck and legs, together with usually at least one stripe and some white spots on each side. The hornless females are a lighter brown colour, and typically have the same white markings as the males, though less often have stripes, but normally have spots on the sides. Males can weigh as much as 280 kilos, stand one and a half metres at the shoulder, and have a mane of long erectile hairs along the spine. Females weigh less and have no mane.

Babile Elephant Sanctuary
The Babille Elephant sanctuary, which is located south of the town of Babille. The sanctuary is 6,982 square kilometers...

(4,329 square miles), and it sits at an altitude of 1,000-1788 meters (3,280-5,865 feet). The sanctuary consists of semi-arid, open woodland and contains an unknown number of mammals, including black-maned lion, kudu, and wild ass. It was created for the protection of the endemic subspecies of the elephant, Loxodonta africana orleansi, which are a rare sight due to the fact that, aside from being small in number, they are shy and rarely expose themselves in the open. Babille is also home to the hot thermal springs, used to supply much of eastern Ethiopia with bottled mineral water.