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Location Ethiopia, Oromiya
Central coordinates 39o 55.50' East  6o 58.50' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i
Area 960,000 ha
Altitude 1,500 - 4,300m
Year of IBA assessment 1996

Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society



Site description Bale Mountains National Park is on the south-east Ethiopian plateau, in Bale Zone of Oromiya Region. The zonal capital, Goba, is on the north-eastern side of the park. The park headquarters are on the northern border at Dinsho, 400 km by road from Addis Ababa. The Bale mountains are formed of ancient volcanic rocks that are now dissected by rivers and streams that have cut deep gorges, in some places resulting in beautiful waterfalls. The mountains rise from the 2,500-m plateau to the west, north and east of the park. The Sanetti plateau, which dominates the northern section of the park, reaches 3,800–4,200 m on top of the mountain block, and is broken by several peaks including Tullu Deemtu (4,377 m), the highest mountain in southern Ethiopia and second-highest in the country. Small lakes form in the numerous shallow depressions on the Sanetti plateau during the wet season. Larger, permanent lakes like Garba Guracha, Hora Bacha and Halla Wenz, are mostly found on the eastern side of the plateau. The northern section of the park covers the valleys of the Web and Danka rivers. The northern highland block is separated from the Harenna forest by the spectacular Harenna escarpment that runs diagonally from west to east across the middle of the park. The southern border of the park, at 1,600 m, represents the southern limits of the Harenna forest, the largest intact forest block in the country. Bale Mountains National Park supports a wide range of habitats and encompasses the largest tract of Afro-alpine vegetation in continental Africa. The Harenna forest increases in species-richness from the low-altitude, open-canopy dry forest at 1,500 m to the very moist, often cloud/mist-covered forest at and above 2,400 m. At these higher altitudes the trees support a high density of epiphytes and woody climbers and, as the canopy is not very dense, a rich herb layer is present. Juniperus procera forest is found in the northern parts of the park and also on the east around and above Goba. Around Goba there are also patches of Olea europaea cuspidata. The tree-heathers Erica arborea and E. trimera form a forest (up to 8 m tall) that replaces Juniperus procera at c.3,200 m. Such forest is best-developed on the top of the Harenna escarpment where the trees are festooned with lichens, particularly Usnea. Above this, only the tree-heathers persist, and then only as scrub 1–3 m tall. This vegetation continues up to the Afro-alpine moorland at 3,800 m. The Afro-alpine moorland in this park is extremely rich in endemic plants, with predictions of 30% highly plausible. The most striking plants are the giant Lobelia spp. and cushions of everlasting flowers Helichrysum spp., particularly H. citrispinum and H. splendidum. A shrubby lady’s mantle Alchemilla haumannii that is endemic to the mountains in southern Ethiopia is also present. The park is used for grazing domestic animals, and consequently fire is used to control the growth of woody vegetation (Erica spp.) and to stimulate new growth for grazing. The park contains hot (mineral) springs that the farmers value for their animals. There is also some cultivation of barley to c.3,000 m (sometimes to 3,500 m). The forests are traditionally used for gathering honey and other forest products, and for grazing.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Banded Barbet Lybius undatus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Francolinus castaneicollis resident  1996  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Francolinus psilolaemus resident  1996  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Erckel's Francolin Pternistis erckelii resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Blue-winged Goose Cyanochen cyanoptera resident  1996  present  A3  Vulnerable 
Wattled Ibis Bostrychia carunculata resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca passage  1996  5 individuals  poor  A1  Vulnerable 
Buteo oreophilus resident  1996  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus winter  1996  4-6 individuals  poor  A1  Near Threatened 
Rouget's Rail Rougetius rougetii resident  1996  present  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus breeding  1996  1-4 breeding pairs  A1  Vulnerable 
Spot-breasted Lapwing Vanellus melanocephalus resident  1996  50 breeding pairs  A3, A4i  Least Concern 
White-collared Pigeon Columba albitorques resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Dusky Turtle-dove Streptopelia lugens resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-winged Lovebird Agapornis taranta resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-cheeked Turaco Tauraco leucotis resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
African Long-eared Owl Asio abyssinicus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Caprimulgus poliocephalus resident  1996  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Scarce Swift Schoutedenapus myoptilus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Nyanza Swift Apus niansae resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Abyssinian Woodpecker Dendropicos abyssinicus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Dark-headed Oriole Oriolus monacha resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Thick-billed Raven Corvus crassirostris resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-backed Tit Parus leuconotus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Brown Woodland-warbler Phylloscopus umbrovirens resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Brown Warbler Sylvia lugens resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
African Hill Babbler Pseudoalcippe abyssinica resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Abyssinian Catbird Parophasma galinieri resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Montane White-eye Zosterops poliogastrus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sharpe's Starling Cinnyricinclus sharpii resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Slender-billed Starling Onychognathus tenuirostris resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Zoothera piaggiae resident  1996  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Rueppell's Robin-chat Cossypha semirufa resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Moorland Chat Cercomela sordida resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Cliff-chat Monticola semirufus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Little Rock-thrush Monticola rufocinereus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher Dioptrornis chocolatinus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Tacazze Sunbird Nectarinia tacazze resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Swainson's Sparrow Passer swainsonii resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Abyssinian Crimson-wing Cryptospiza salvadorii resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Abyssinian Longclaw Macronyx flavicollis resident  1996  present  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Ethiopian Siskin Serinus nigriceps resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Abyssinian Citril Serinus citrinelloides resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Brown-rumped Seedeater Serinus tristriatus resident  1996  present  A3  Least Concern 
Serinus striolatus resident  1996  present  A3  Not Recognised 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Bale Controlled Hunting Area 966,300 protected area contains site 960,000  
Bale Wildlife Reserve 176,600 protected area contained by site 176,600  
Bale Mountains National Park 247,100 protected area contains site 247,000  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   68%
Unknown   1%
Shrubland   2%
Grassland   27%
Forest   1%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
forestry -
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -
other -
Notes: Honey gathering and collection of non-timber forest products.

Other biodiversity Bale Mountains National Park was established to protect two endemic mammals: Tragelaphus buxtoni (EN) and Canis simensis (CR). Tragelaphus buxtoni, an endemic antelope discovered in 1910, thrived under the protection, with the population increasing to c.2,000 by 1990. Canis simensis also thrived. However, during the political turmoil of 1991, many Tragelaphus buxtoni were killed as some local people demonstrated their resentment of the park. By the end of 1991 the population of this species in the park had been reduced to c.200 animals. Canis simensis also suffered and continues to be persecuted. The park supports 68 mammal species (including bats). Other notable taxa include the endemic Tachyoryctes macrocephalus, known only from the Sanetti plateau, and Tragelaphus scriptus meneliki. The few collections of reptiles and amphibians from the park have found new records for Ethiopia, as well as undescribed species.

Further web sources of information 

Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This site has been identified as an AZE due to it containing a Critically Endangered or Endangered species with a limited range.

References Ash (1977), Clouet and Barrau (1993), Clouet et al. (1995), Dorst and Roux (1972), Ethiopian Tourism Commission (undated a), Gottelli and Sillero (1992), Hedberg (1957), Hillman (1985, 1993), Kidan (1996), Malcolm (1982), Miehe and Miehe (1994), Sorenson et al. (1996), Waltermire (1973).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bale Mountains National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 02/10/2014

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