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Bale Mountain National Park
Located in the Bale Mountains, the Bale Mountain National Park has wild alpine scenery that has around a dozen endemic birds living on the slopes, as well as the Ethiopian Wolf and a mountain nyala. The country’s second highest peak, Mount Tullo Deemtu is found here.
The Bale Mountains were formed from volcanic lava around 10 million years ago, and glacial activity only stopped 2,000 years ago; in extremely cold winters, snowfall is sometimes seen. The main habitats here are juniper-hagenia woodland, Afro-montane forest and Afro-alpine moorland.
The juniper-hagenia woodland is found at elevations of 2,500 m to 3,300 m, and is often found on the northern slopes of the mountains. Large mammals found here are the mountain nyala and Menelik’s bushbuck, endemic to thecountry. Warthog and bohor reedbuck are also found here.
The Afro-montane forest is found at similar elevations as the juniper-hagenia woodland, but on south-facing slopes whilst the moorland is found at altitudes above 3500 m. This is the most likely place to find the Ethiopian wolf.
The open vegetation below the forests is stunningly beautiful, and the most distinctive plant here is the red-hot poker, which is an aloe that grows to shrub height and has orange spear-shaped flowers.
Other animals found in the park include the guereza, vervet monkey, Bale monkey, bushpig, leopard, lion and African Wild Dog.
The park is by far the best place to go to see the country’s endemic birds. There are a variety of specific places in which to see the above mentioned habitats.
The main concentration of the nyala is found in the juniper forest around the park headquarters, and it is common to see four or five herds here. The area is also excellent for bird-watching, and there are several hides set up for those who are keen. An unusual plant found here is the white-flowered Abyssinian rose, which is the only flowering rose indigenous to Africa.
To the north of the park a small extension protects Mount Gaysay, and Lake Bassasso along with its river. With mountain nyala, Menelik’s bushbuck and at least one wolf pack, this is a good place to go if you have little time. Birds are found in the marshy areas that are normally associated with the plateaux.
The Web River Valley has a moorland cover and has many small rodents living in the abundant flowers; indigenous wolves live here in fairly large numbers, as this is ideal territory for them. Rock hyrax (not dissimilar to the hyrax found on Table Mountain, Cape Town) are often observed on a natural rock bridge over the Danka River, and there is a pretty waterfall at the confluence of the Web and Wolla rivers.
The Sanetti Plateau is thought to be the world’s largest expanse of Afro-alpine moorland, and displays a high number of endemic species as the habitats are isolated from other area, being confined to the highest altitudes on the highest mountains in east Africa. The largest population of the wolf is found here, as well as the golden jackal, klipspringer and endemic giant molerat. There are a few other endemic small burrowing rodents. The red-hot poker is found in vast fields here, as well as giant lobelia which can grow to 3 m high and have corky bark and waxen leaves that withstand freezing temperatures. There are a number of tarns (small post-glacial lakes) which attract endemic birds and waterfowl, and look beautiful under a clear blue sky.
These indigenous wolves can also be found in the Simien Mountains.
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