Nechisar National Park

Nechisar National Park (or Nech Sar National Park) is a national park in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia. It is in the Great Rift Valley, within the southwestern Ethiopian Highlands.

Nechisar National Park
Nechisar National Park 01.jpg
Nechisar National Park with Lake Abaya on the left and Lake Chamo on the right
Map showing the location of Nechisar National Park
Map showing the location of Nechisar National Park
Location in Ethiopia
LocationSouthern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region,
Nearest cityArba Minch
Coordinates6°2′N 37°35′E / 6.033°N 37.583°E / 6.033; 37.583Coordinates: 6°2′N 37°35′E / 6.033°N 37.583°E / 6.033; 37.583
Area1,030 km2 (400 sq mi)


The 750-square-kilometre (190,000-acre) park includes the "Bridge of God", an isthmus between Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo, and the Nechisar (English: white grass) plains east of the lakes. It is east of Arba Minch.

Park elevations range between 1,108 and 1,650 metres (3,635 and 5,413 ft) above sea level.[1] Nechisar National Park was established in 1974. Under the management of African Parks Network (APN since 2005, it was reportedly scheduled to hand over management to the Ethiopian government in June 2008.[2]

History and managementEdit

As part of a 1960s UNESCO plan to protect and conserve nature and natural resources in Ethiopia, a two person team of UNESCO consultants spent three months surveying most major wildlife areas in Ethiopia, and officially submitted to the Wildlife Conservation Board in 1965 their recommendations, which included a game reserve to the east of Lake Chamo to provide protection for the population of Swayne's hartebeest and other local wildlife.

Nechsar National Park was proposed in 1967, then officially established in 1974. Since then it has not legally been gazetted, but has functioned as de facto national park.[3] Following the recommendations of the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture recommendation, in 1982 the local Guji, who had been living as pastoralists in the lowlands beside Lake Abaya and Chamo "were forcibly evicted from the park at gun point".[4]

In the lawless period at the end of the Derg rule and immediately afterwards, Nechisar suffered much damage. Park buildings located far from the headquarters were looted and damaged. At the same time, the local Guji returned to their traditional grazing areas. According to one source, they fled there from the attacks of the Borena Oromo, who in turn were victimized by neighboring ethnic groups, their presence degrading the environment and contributing to the local extinction of many species. The Guji also acquired firearms during this period, and used them to resist eviction from the park afterwards.[5] In 2005, Refugees International criticized their eviction.[6]

In 2005, the management responsibility for Nechisar National Park was handed over to APN.[7]

While tourism in Ethiopia has increased in the park in recent years, doubling each year from 5300 tourists in 2005 to 20,500 in 2007, in October 2008 APN announced that they were ending management of Nechisar National Park. In a magazine article reprinted on their website, APN claims that sustainable management of the Ethiopian parks is incompatible with "the irresponsible way of living of some of the ethnic groups". African Parks added that the emphasis for resettling inhabitants out of the park, rather than educating them to work with them, came from the Ethiopian government. APN was told that the Guji were an Oromo people, and "they belong in the adjoining Oromiya province, not among the Gamo and Gofa peoples of the Southern District, where the park is".[8]

Geography and landscapeEdit

The important regional centre to the park is Arba Minch in the Main Ethiopian Rift. Approximately 15% of the park consists of lakes including Lake Abaya in the north and Lake Chamo in the south. Part of the habitat consists of the groundwater forest and shoreline of the lakes, but there are also dry grassy plains. The altitude ranges from 1,108 meters above sea level at the shore of Lake Chamo to 1,650 meters on Mount Tabala in the north-east, renowned for its hot springs.[9]

Taller trees found in the park include Dichrostachys cinerea, Acacia tortilis, Balanites aegyptiaca and less common Acacia nilotica. The southern part of the park is dominated by edaphic grassland and a calcareous black clay soil underneath with Dobera glabra, Acacia tortilis and the grass Chrysopogon aucheri forming much of the landscape.[9]

Both Lake Abaya and Chamo have substantial fish populations, notably Nile perch, which forms the basis of the local fishing industry. Crocodiles inhabit both lakes and there is a crocodile farm near Lake Abaya. At Chamo crocodiles are exploited for their skins.


The park has a notable population of Grant's gazelle

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, African leopard, Hyena, Lion, Cheetah, Giraffe, African wild dog and Hippopotamus.[7] A stretch of the northwest shore of Lake Chamo is known as Crocodile Market, where hundreds of crocodiles gather to bask. The park also has populations of bushbuck, bushpig, Anubis baboon, vervet monkeys, and black-backed jackal. The endangered painted hunting dog, Lycaon pictus, once existed in the park (with last sightings at Fincha), but may now be extirpated due to human population pressures in this region.[10] In 2009, a small group of less than 23 lions were estimated in and around the protected area.[11]

Nechisar National Park is considered an important habitat for bird populations particularly those migrating. It has a noted population of kingfishers, storks, pelicans, flamingos and African fish eagles.[12]

Other birds include Falco naumanni and Circus macrourus, which are fairly common on passage. Other species of note include Accipiter ovampensis, Aviceda cuculoides, Gypaetus barbatus, Macheiramphus alcinus, Chelictinia riocourii, Francolinus levaillantii, Podica senegalensis, Crithagra reichardi, Schoutedenapus myoptilus, and Coracina caesia.


  1. ^ Camerapix (2000) Spectrum Guide to Ethiopia. Barbara Lawrence Balletto (Editor). New York: Interlink. ISBN 156656350X. p. 318.
  2. ^ Africa Parks to Leave Nech Sar[permanent dead link], March 15, 2008, The Ethiopian Reporter, Retrieved on June 22, 2008
  3. ^ Abiyot Negera Biressu (2009) "Resettlement and local livelihoods in Nechsar National Park, Southern Ethiopia", Master's thesis in indigenous studies, University of Tromsø, pp. 22-4.
  4. ^ As detailed in Abiyot Negera Biressu, pp. 27ff
  5. ^ Michael J. Jacobs and Catherine A. Schloeder "Impacts of Conflict on Biodiversity and Protected Areas in Ethiopia: Summary of Impacts".
  6. ^ [1], Thompson, Larry (19 Apr 2005), "Ethiopia: Local People Burned Out of Homes to Make Way for National Park". Refugees International.
  7. ^ a b "Nech Sar - Description". Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
  8. ^ "Why African Parks Network is pulling out of Ethiopia"
  9. ^ a b Nechisar National Park Archived 2013-10-28 at the Wayback Machine,, January 4, 2006, Retrieved on June 22, 2008
  10. ^ C. Michael Hogan (31 January 2009). Painted Hunting Dog: Lycaon pictus Archived 2010-12-09 at the Wayback Machine,, ed. N. Stromberg
  11. ^ Yirga, G., Gebresenbet, F., Deckers, J. and Bauer, H. (2014). "Status of Lion (Panthera leo) and Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) in Nechisar National Park, Ethiopia". Momona Ethiopian Journal of Science. 6 (2): 127−137. doi:10.4314/mejs.v6i2.109714.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  12. ^ WordTravels Ethiopia Travel Guide Archived 2017-12-01 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved on June 22, 2008

External linksEdit