Over-Grazing, Illegal Settlement Threaten Nech Sar Park

Zebras Nech Sar National Park (Photo: http://hem.bredband.net/) -
Zebras Nech Sar National Park (Photo: http://hem.bredband.net/) –

By Henok Reta

Nech Sar National Park, one of the 13 national parks of Ethiopia, is facing extinction, according to the park’s officials and local people. Nech Sar was also named one of the five parks facing danger by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, according to Ambelu Getachew, a tourism expert at the National Park.

Nech Sar is located in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Regional State (SNNPR) near Arba Minch town. Its 514 sq.km. of territory include the “Bridge of God” (a hill between lakes Abaya and Chamo), and the Nech Sar plains east of the lakes. Hosting a variety of flora and fauna, it has also been one of the most attractive destinations of tourists in the country. “We have been facing massive overgrazing, illegal settlement and poor infrastructure,” Anbelu said.

Although the government had allocated 1.5 billion birr to redevelopment, the challenge had always been difficult to exploit the natural resources it has, according to him.

Wildlife in the park include Plains zebra, Grant’s gazelle, dik-dik, and the greater kudu as well as one of the last three populations of the endangered Swayne’s hartebeest, endemic to Ethiopia. A stretch of the northwest shore of Lake Chamo is known as the Crocodile Market, where hundreds of crocodiles gather to sunbathe. The park also has populations of bushbucks, bushpigs, Anubis baboons, vervet monkeys, black-backed jackals and Burchell’s zebras. The endangered painted hunting dog, Lycaon pictus, once existed in the park (with last sightings at Finchaa), but may now be extinct due to human population pressures in the region.

Nech Sar National Park is also considered an important habitat for bird populations, particularly those migrating. It has a noted population of king fishers, storks, pelicans, flamingos and fish eagles.

Source: The Reporter