Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

Simien Mountains National Park is the largest national park in the Republic of Ethiopia. It is located in the North Gondar zone of the Amhara region and its territory covers the highest parts of the Simien Mountains and it also includes Ras Dashan, the highest point in Ethiopia. The park is crossed by an unpaved road running from Debarq, where the administrative headquarters of the park are located. It also crosses east through a numerous villages to the 4,430 meters Buahit pass, where the road turns south to end at Mekane Berhan which is 10 kilometers beyond the park boundary.

Established in 1969 by the set-up of Clive Nicol who wrote about his experiences in and from the Roof of Africa, Simien Mountains National Park is located on the western side of the Simien Mountains and about 120 kilometers from the Gondar province of Begemder in the northwestern region of Ethiopia. It is located within the Simien Massif which rises above the northern highlands of the country. The Simien area is rich in perforated basalt and serves as an ideal catchment basin.

Simien Mountains National Park is a home to a numerous endangered species including the Ethiopian wolf, the walia ibex, and the wild goat, which is found nowhere else in the world, the gelada baboon, the caracal and the cat which also occurs within the Simien Mountains. Besides the animals, more than 50 species of birds are refuge to the park. Among these birds include the impressive bearded vulture, which has a 3 meter wingspan.

Flora of the park

Simien Mountains National park’s vegetation is mixed with African alpine forests, alpine vegetation and wilderness forests. The vegetation of the park is divided into three sections including the montane forests, Sub Afro-alpine, and the Afro-alpine. The park areas with a high altitude include the savannah and tree heath, the giant lobelia, yellow primrose, lady’s mantle, everlastings and a moss. In the montane forests of the park, there are juniper trees, fig, African redwood, African olive, and water berries. Also, there are varieties of shrubs including the cocona, Abyssinian rose, and the stinging nettle.

Wildlife of the park

Mammal species

Simien Mountains National Park is a home to more than 20 large mammal species which inhabit on the slope of the northern slope of massif. Most of these animals are native to Simien Mountains and a variety of them can be sighted in the park. Among these animals include the gelada baboon, Ethiopian wolf, Walia ibex, wild goats and the Anubis baboons. Other mammals in the park are; colobus monkeys, hamadryas baboons, leopards, caracal, wild cats, bushbucks, common duiker, klipspringer, the golden jackal, spotted hyenas, and many others.

The park also records 11 species of rodents and two shrew species which were found during the expedition in 2015. All these species are endemic to the Ethiopian Plateau and among these, 7 have been observed in the Simien Mountains. These species include the Crocidura baileyi and Arvicanthis abyssinicus and others.

Bird species

Simien Mountains National Park is a refugee camp to more than 400 bird species which are both migratory and residents to the park. Among these bird species include the augur buzzards, lanner falcon, bearded vulture, kestrels, verreaux’s eagle, thick billed raven and many different others.

Simien Mountains National Park is protected under the National Reserve Act which protects the parks’ species and works hand in hand with the local residents to reduce the works done on park resources like overfishing, livestock farming and others.