The park has two water bodies Lakes of Chamo and Abaya which are separated by ‘Ye Egzer Dildiy’ meaning the bridge of God. It is some sort of small mountain land apart the two lakes and covered by dark forest. The area around the lakes is covered by green grasses and vegetation as well as forests. But the rest part of the park especially the main plain of the park is covered by white savanna grasses, which is called in Amharic ‘Nech Sar, the park’s name.
It is one of Ethiopia’s national parks with endemic and many other wild lives. It is believed to be the sanctuary of Swayne’s Hartebeest whose species are endangered to be extinct. Plain Zebras, flagship species of the park, Bush buck, caracal, Dik dik, Lion, greater kudu and over 90 mammals are habitants of the park.
It has also aquatic animals such as crocodiles, Hippopotamus, and terrestrial birds like pelican, Nech-Sar night jar which is endemic to Ethiopia, yellow-billed stork, Marabou stork, Black headed weaver, flamingos and more than 350 species of birds.
In a broadest say, it is the place where every day to day activities of animal feeding, resting, breeding, reproduction etc could be observed. Among this the ‘Azo gebeya’ meaning ‘Crocodile market’ is the most impressive one to watch hundreds of crocodiles enjoying the rising sun on the shore of Lake Chamo. Some of them look like as they are died with no movement.
This is Nech Sar National Park, which is found in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples State in Gamo Gofa Zone, nearest to Arba Minch City, the capital of the Zone.
According to the information of the park’s administration, Nech Sar National Park is the second park in attracting both foreign and local tourists and it is also the first by being visited by large number of local tourists. It shares 55 and 32 KM2 of the total areas of Abaya and Chamo lakes respectively. These lakes are highly known for their fish resources that are supplied to the national market.
In his exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, Shimelis Zenebe, Administrator of Nech Sar National Park, said, “Nech Sar National Park is serving the country by being source of tourism trade income, fish supply, environmental protection and many other.” As of him, the park is visited by nearly 40,000 local and foreign tourists annually. However, this number is increasing from time to time.
Nech Sar National Park has spectacular natural view with very suitable landscape for visitors and it is also not expensive to build vital infrastructures inside and around the park. Since it doesn’t have significant infrastructure yet, we need capable investors to invest on the area, Shimels said.
There are standardized international hotels and resorts around Nech Sar National Park; these hotels are also providing tour services. Especially on the western side of the park, visitors can get best lodges and hotels with panoramic view of their installation of the top boundaries of the park.
Gamo Gofa Zone Culture and Tourism Bureau Communication Director Kambo Dero said, “These hotels and resorts, even though they are highly satisfying our guests and tourists yet, are not adequate in number when compared with ever increasing number of tourists. Therefore, we are looking for more investment in the area and we are well coming, motivating and supporting investors in the sector.”
Shimels stressed on some critical problems need to be solved in order to maintain the continuity of the park and other home works should be done.
According to Shimelis, currently among other things, the presence of the people in the boundary of the park is endangering wild lives that live in the park. Particularly, in the north eastern parts of the park, there are about 1,200 households living in the boundary of the park. They are destroying forests in order to get clear land for farming and housing purpose. They are also hunting wild animals for their meet, skin and traditional medication preparation. As of Shimels, even though several efforts have been carried out so far, due to the poor attention given by the two neighboring states, SNNP and Oromia administrations, the park is being exposed to such problems more extremely since 2008.
On the western parts of the park, particularly from the side of Arba Minch city illegal fishing on Lake Abaya and the high demand for wood from parks forest is threatening the park.
Lack of infrastructure in the park for visitors is another problem Shimels mentioned. As the parks’ main plain lacked road for cars, it is difficult for some visitors with light field car. Currently, 95 percent of the park’s visitation was conducted on the boat travel, he stressed.
“If those problems are solved, we can increase the number of tourists by far from its current status. We will get more safety for our wild lives, and we can reinstate the diminishing production and species of fish’s and wild lives threatened,” he added.
BY YOSEF KETEMA