Simien National Park, in northern Ethiopia, is a spectacular landscape, where massive erosion over millions of years has created jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500 m.
The national park was established in 1969 and is recognised and protected under national protected areas legislation.
The property requires an effective management presence and the maintenance and increasing of staff levels and training.
Key tasks for the management of the park include the effective protection of the park’s flagship species and close cooperation with local communities in order to reduce the pressure on the park’s resources arising from agricultural expansion, livestock overstocking and overharvesting of natural resources.
The pressures on the property are likely to increase further as a result of global climate change.
The vegetation is a mixture of afro-alpine woods, heath forest and high montane vegetation.
Higher altitudes support montane savannah and montane moor land with tree heath, giant lobelia, yellow primrose, everlastings, lady’s mantle and mosses.
Lichen drapes the high-altitude forest trees.
Ridge tops and gorge sides support coarse grassland with herbs thickets, scattered, and creepers.
Forests of St John’s wort once flourished at 3,000-3,800 m, but few still remain. There are high, but un-quantified, levels of endemism.
It is home to a number of endangered species, including the Ethiopian wolf and the walia ibex, a wild goat found nowhere else in the world.
The gelada baboon and the caracal, a cat, also occur within the Simien Mountains.
The natural beauties of this region have always filled visitors from Ethiopia and abroad with awe.
Gentle highland ridges at altitudes above 3600 meters above sea level, covered with grasses, isolated trees (Erica &bored) and the bizarre Giant Lobelia (Lobelia rhynchopetalum) are found on the high plateau that ends abruptly at 1000- to 2000-m deep escarpments.
The main attraction of the Simien Moumains National Park is its biosphere: the steep cliffs and the cool climate at the altitude of the Erica tree line (3600 to 4000 m ash) have created conditions that are appropriate for the survival of an ibex species (Capra ibex wee) endemic to the Simien Mountains.
Despite the severe restriction of their habitat over the last centuries, several hundred animals have survived up to the present.
Apart from the Walya ibex, many other animal species are found in the Park, for example the endemic Simien fox or Ethiopian wolf, several birds of prey, the endemic Gelada baboon ( Theropithecusgelada), the Klippspringer (Oreotragus omotragus), and the bush buck (liagelphus scriptus).
The rareness of these species formed the backbone of the concept for conservation of the area, which led to the establishment of the Simien Mountains National Park in 1969, and its listing as a World Heritage Site in 1918.
The dramatic landscape of the Simien Mountains is the result of massive seismic activity in the area about 40 million years ago.
Molten lava poured out of the Earth’s core reaching a thickness of 3000m.
Subsequent erosion over the millennia has left behind the jagged landscape of the Simien Mountains: the gorges, chasms and precipices.