The Semien highland massif is considered to be the finest scenery in all Africa and it is for this reason, and the fact that the area is the home of the Walia Ibex, the Semien Fox and the Gelada Baboon that it has now been gazetted as a national park.
The Gelada is not in fact peculiar to the Semyen as is the exclusive Walia Ibex, but they are more numerous here than in their other habitats Some live at Debre Sina not far from Addis Ababa and others at Debre Libanos on the way to the Blue Nile; there are also small populations in the Mulu and Bole Valley gorges. But in the Semyen there may be as many as 20,000, and troops of 400 together may be seen. They do not molest humans and, more surprisingly, the local people do not molest them. Thus they are very tame and will allow humans to approach quite close to the troop before moving nearer to the cliff edge.
The Gelada was discovered in 1835 by the explorer Ruppell, who nan;ed it by the local name used by the inhabitants of Gonder region where he first observed it. They are not difficult to study as they are very tame, however, little interest was shown in them until recently, when Patsy and Robin Dunbar made an exhaustive study of their social behaviour. The social behaviour of the apes and monkeys is evidence of a very high degree of intelligence and studies of their rudimentary social structures are proving of considerable value in analysing the origins of human social behaviour.
The habitat of the Walia Ibex is the High Semien, Ethiopia dramatic high mountain terrain. In the earth long history of violent geographical change, the most recent volcanic upheavals took place in eastern Africa, followed by torrential rains which created the thousand gushing waterfalls which in turn eroded away the newly formed mountain massive, creating the great gorges and gully which are so typical of the region. South west of Axum the land descends gradually southwards toward the Takeze river. At the lip of the gorge at about 1,400 metres (4,600 ft.) one can look across the chasm to a similar plateau beyond. On top of this plateau, adorned with steep turrets and bastions rising in three distinct steps, is perched the north wall of the Semyen.
The mountain massif is a broad plateau, cut off on the north and west by this enormous single crag over 60 kms. (40 miles) long and 1,000-1,500 metres (3000-5000 ft.) high. To the south the table and slopes gently down to 2,200 metres (7,000 ft.) divided by deep gorges 1,000 metres deep and taking two days to cross. Time has not yet been sufficient to soften the contours of the crags and buttresses of hardened basalt. As far as the eye can see looking north from the escarpment, the fused volcanic cores stand starkly defying the elements. Overhead stretches the vast dome of a sky of the deepest blue, which spreads downwards as clear as sapphire to the mauve of the horizon.
The family of Mountain Nyala, the Kudu, the Bango, etc. Over 40 races of Bushbucks are identified in the world so far; two of them Menelik and Powelli Bushbucks are found in Ethiopia.
Menelik Bushbuck has white or black hairs than run down to the center of the bank while the female has white spot on the cheek and blackish collar on its lower neck.
Bushbuck is widely spread on highland forests of up to 40 meters. It is easier to see the Buck in the Bale mountains and Subba forest. High altitude with lower temperature is conducive for solitary Bucks. But Bucks are commonly seen in pairs in the Bale mountain national park.
Bushbuck stands from 80-90cm at the shoulder and higher at the ramp. Horns, which characterized only the male, reach a length of up to 34.93cms.
Bushbucks spend the day lying in the bush where there is no chance of hunting them. They have loud alarm call, which at times is made repeatedly. Bushbuck can see at anytime of the day, yet more common from about 4 o’clock onwards in the early morning.
Another of Ethiopias many endemic species stately, the mountain Nyala has white marking on the legs and white spots on the face. The female are seen in parties of 10-15. However, males are commonly observed lonesome. An old male Nyala has dark gray colour while the female is redder.
Females possess long necks and large ears but not horns like the males whose horns extend 88cm. A Nyala stands 135cm at the shoulder and weights 200-250kgs. And the weight of the bull reaches to 300kgs.
Nyala lie in shady places during the hottest time of the day. Therefore, the best time to watch Nyala is 5 in the afternoon. It is also seen in the morning and evening when it descends down the mountain for grazing.
Though little is known about the habitats of Nyala, is not and endangered species. The Bale mountain national park alone hosts about 4,000-5,000 Nyalas. Some are seen in Arsi highlands. Nyala is the most impressive mammal with worth watching, especially the old bull.