Camels crossing the desert near Africa's highest sand dunes at Temet, Air and Tenere Natural Reserves world heritage site, NigerElephants crossing the Zambezi river in Mana Pools National Park world heritage site, ZimbabweIce cliffs near the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro National Park world heritage site, TanzaniaBlack and white ruffed lemur, Rainforests of the Atsinanana world heritage site, Madagascar

Bale Mountains National Park - Ethiopia

Map showing the location of Bale Mountains National Park (Ethiopia), a potential World Heritage SiteConsidered to have potential as a future World Heritage Site

Location and Area: The BaleMountains form the highest parts of the ‘eastern block’ of the Ethiopian highlands (see map).

Inscription Status:  BaleMountainsNational Park is included on Ethiopia’s Tentative List and a nomination is in preparation (2015). 

Important Values:  The BaleMountainsNational Park protects Ethiopia’s second highest peak and the largest expanse of Afroalpine vegetation in Africa. It covers an exceptional range of altitude, supporting a wide range of habitats and many rare and threatened species found only in the isolated highlands of Ethiopia.  These include iconic large mammals such as the mountain nyala, and the world’s rarest member of the dog family, the Ethiopian wolf.


Slideshow of the Bale Mountains National Park (see below for description):

Slideshow description:  The slideshow covers the key landscapes and habitats of Bale as well as a selection of the endemic plants and animals.  It begins on the high altitude Sanetti Plateau – Africa’s largest tract of Afro-alpine moorland vegetation with extensive stands of giant lobelia and stony plains dominated by Helichrysum, Alchemilla and other ground-cover species.  This is prime habitat for Ethiopian wolves, and the holes of mole-rats (their preferred prey) can be seen everywhere.  The slideshow continues at lower altitude, showing the Gaysay Grasslands, a prime area for the highly endangered endemic Mountain Nyala.  A tarmac road runs through the park here, a hazard for wildlife crossing, but an excellent access point for viewing some of Ethiopia’s endemic birds – Rougett’s Rail, White-collared pigeon, wattled ibis and blue-winged goose are shown.  The grasslands are home to a number of larger mammals, including reedbuck, warthog and Menelik’s bushbuck, an endemic race.  Nearby are extensive high-altitude juniper forests, where some of the grassy glades are being invaded by the exotic Solanum weed with its large yellow fruits.  The slideshow continues with a journey over the Sanetti Plateau and down the Harenna escarpment into the low-lying (and little-explored) HarennaForest.  On the way up, a pair of (endemic) chestnut-naped spurfowl may be encountered, and a ruddy shelduck on a high altitude tarn.  One of the most picturesque areas of the plateau is the upper WebRiverValley, surrounded by impressive volcanic cliffs.  Domestic cattle may be found here, far from any homestead and a clear threat to the ecology of the park, especially because they are accompanied by domestic dogs which may transmit rabies and other canine diseases to the highly endangered Ethiopian wolf.  The top of the Harenna escarpment is cloaked in giant heathers, which gives way to bamboo, then closed canopy mixed forest at lower altitudes.  Here visitors might be lucky to see one of the very rare endemic Bale monkeys, or an endemic chameleon (of which there are many species and new discoveries being made).  The exclusive Bale Mountain Lodge enjoys a prime location in the Harenna forest with spectacular views onto the high peaks.

Possible constraints to world heritage listing: The principal constraints to world heritage listing concern the level of human activities within the park and their impact on the park's ecological integrity.  There are a number of villages and extensive areas of cultivation at the base of the Harenna escarpment and livestock are grazed throughout the high altitude moorlands.  One particular issue is that herders are universally accompanied by domestic dogs which are known to transmit potentially fatal diseases to the highly endangered Ethiopian wolf.


Links:  Google Earth | Official UNESCO Site Details |  Birdlife IBA     


Giant tree heathers on the flanks of the high Sanetti Plateau in Ethiopia's Bale Mountains National ParkGiant Lobelias are a characteristic species of the Afro-alpine habitat above 3500m in Bale Mountains National Park (Ethiopia)Bale Mountains National Park supports the largest single population of Ethiopian Wolves, the world's rarest member of the dog familyThe highly threatened Mountain Nyala is endemic to Ethiopia and its largest global population is in the Bale Mountains




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