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I took this shot on our second and last day up on the plateau of the Bale Mountains National Park, just before we drove down to Hawassa. It’s been amazing to be up there in such a wonderful, unique, and harsh environment, and to see these beautiful creatures that live up there. The elevation on the plateau is above 3000 meters and we went up to about 4370 meters on Mount Tullu Demtu, Ethiopia’s second highest mountain. The low rocks and shrubs were no obstacles to the winds that haunted us. Windchill, rain, and hail turned down the felt temperatures quite a bit, but brief spells of sunshine in between made for nice contrasts. We plan to come back to the Bale Mountains, but next time we will stay for at least six days and do a trek on horseback from camp to camp. This will allow us to be up in the park for longer periods of time. On our recent trip we had to be out of the park at 5 p.m. and in the morning we first had to drive up, which took valuable time. And with the slow speed of the horses, we hope to see even more animals.
Considering how few Ethiopian wolves are left (about 550 in total), it’s been surprising to us how little the local authorities do to protect the Ethiopian wolves. The biggest danger for the wolves seems to be rabies infections, which killed about 200 wolves in the Bale Mountains National Park last year alone. The wolves are infected by dogs that herders bring with them when they graze their cattle in the park. Finding the right balance between providing local communities with sustainable income and the protection of endangered species is hard, but to us it seemed as if the potential role and impact of low-key tourism was not fully explored yet. There are great examples where this seems to work very well, like the Lewa National Park in Kenya, where most of the income generated through park-entrance fees and lodging supports local schools and community development projects and where the impact on the local community from tourism is very direct. We hope that the wolves and the other endemic species will still be there when we come back.
sgid: lat: 6.88928 lon: 39.90976