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Good news for those planning trips to Ethiopia - the country with ancient monuments has taken another step into the future. we are talking about Online Visas! https://www.evisa.gov.et/#/home Bale or Guassa, anyone? courtesy of @Sangeeta Editing to add - I rejoiced too early... sadly the online visa is not available for Singapore! Darn.
Simien Lodge posted a topic in Safari talkI have written a blog about the state of wolves in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia. As far as I believe the information is accurate but I stand corrected if anything is false. I'm not a biologist or a scientist - I'm a lodge owner. But from what I have seen and heard, I believe this to be accurate and somewhat alarming. https://nickcran.wordpress.com/lone-wolf Secondly I have been talking to Adam Welz, a wildlife media expert from SA. I have not yet met Adam but will do at the Conservation Lab later this month. We have been wondering whether any Tora Hartebeest are still alive or whether this species is extinct? There have been no reports for over ten years in Ethiopia. Can anyone shed any light on what has happened to this beautiful species?
Simien Lodge posted a topic in Latest Conservation news and talkAWF kicked off their participation in Simien Mountains with an important workshop in Addis Ababa yesterday (24.2.15). It was attended by all major stakeholders. To quote Kathleen Fitzgerald, the team leader and Director of AWF, 'Simiens could be one of the most important parks in Africa'. There is certainly a lot of interest right now in this amazing destination that combines endemic species with some of the best views in the world. Mike McCarntney of Africacampfires.com was in the park recently too. He could not believe how close he could get to the wildlife. http://www.simiens.com
Gelada vs Gorillas. Both a privileged experience. I was intrigued to see the gorillas. Although I had become accustomed to sitting close to Gelada in the Simien National Park of Ethiopia, I wondered if the experience would be as exciting. It certainly was. After one hour of being close to the largest primates in the world, I came out of the forest knowing that I had just seen something really special. Maybe I have come to be a bit balzé about Gelada. I guess that I see them so often around Simien Lodge that I tend not to notice them anymore. Every day they come and sit on the window ledges to see their reflection in the glass. Otherwise they nonchalantly eat the grass around the rooms that we call ‘tukels’. Gelada are neither a nuisance, like so many baboon species, nor do they warrant any special attention since they spend most of their time looking down and eating grass. They are just ever present so I am no longer in awe when I see the lodge compound invaded by a couple of hundred monkeys. So it was not until I went on a recent trip with two European ambassadors from Addis Ababa that I once again took notice of this incredible species. The Gelada are unique to northern Ethiopia. Many people will tell you that they are endemic to the Simien Mountain National park but that is not true. They are found in a few other places outside of the park. However the best place to see them is right in the core of the park area at about 3500 meters altitude. Clearly my clients were desperate to see them. It was harvest time and many of the bands, as they are called, had wandered off to the farmlands in search of grain. So on the first morning, to my great surprise, we did not see a single animal. However the afternoon game drive was a totally different story and it renewed my affection for these interesting creatures. We stumbled on a band that were grooming and feeding on the escarpment edge. The backdrop beyond the vertical escarpment was one of clear blue sky. Exceptionally there was no haze we could pick out the dots of the houses over one kilometre below. It was late in the afternoon, the sun was getting weaker and the Gelada were preparing to descend the cliff where they would spend the night away from the predators. We sat for nearly an hour watching about ten young gelada climb a rock and launch themselves, like intrepid base jumpers, sensing an awe inspired audience. It was in fact only a four meter drop to a grassy patch below but still perilously close to the edge. To miss their footing would have meant certain death and dinner for the ever watchful vultures. It became a game for them. They were totally ignored by the adult gelada about twenty meters away who just went on preening each other or tapping the ground to extract a juicy grass root. Equally they had total disregard for the two VIP’s who I had taken along for this trip. Like all disrespectful youngsters, they just carried on with their game even when my nervous guests approached them to within one or two meters. There was no need to be afraid. Gelada have never been known to bite a human. The similarity with the gorillas came back to me. Of all wild animals, primates are intelligent enough to know when there is a threat. Sure enough, the Gelada are smart. They know the difference between a tourist with a camera and a young shepherd boy with a stone. Tourists pose no threat and it is possible for them to get very close. On the other hand the sight of a young Ethiopian boy would have heralded a warning call from a watchful adult gelada and that would have been the end of the game. My one hour with the gorillas and it had cost me $750. Expensive but unique. The one hour with the Gelada had cost the ambassadors $4 each for a whole day. OK, let’s double that because we did not see them in the morning! Some cynics might say that I’m comparing chalk with cheese but I don’t think so. Both are amazing experiences that leave you with that privileged feeling that so many of us feel after a great safari. Forget the money, both experiences are fabulous. Nick Crane Simien Lodge www.simiens.com