Ethiopia National Park, Maze National Park

Maze National Park is one of the youngest Ethiopian National parks, which is located in Gamo Gofa Zone in South West Ethiopia. The name of the park “Maze” is derived after the largest river that crosses the park. The main rivers, which are tributaries to the river  Maze are Lemase, Domba and Zage rivers.

The park, which was established in 2005 was a controlled for hunting area for many years starting from the Derg regime to its establishment; and it has been called “Shambara Bazuwa” where Shambara stands for Very Wide Area and Bazuwa stands for Wilderness or Desert by the local people. It lays within the boundaries of five weredas namely Qucha, Daramalo, Zala, Kamba and Denba Gofa (Figure 1). The Maze controlled hunting area was developed into a national park for its endemic mammal Swayne Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus) of Ethiopia where the population of the Swayne Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus) is the third around the world. The park is located about 460, 235 and 22 km South West of Addis Ababa, Hawassa and Selam Ber, capital of Qucha wereda, respectively. GPS data has shown that the park covers an area of 220 square Km with altitudes ranging from 900 to 1400 meters above sea level. The landscape of the park area includes a vast plain, some sloppy areas, small hills, escarpments and chain of mountains at its boundaries.

Maze National Park and its surroundings have a unique natural, cultural and historical attractions wide range of wildlife and vegetation types. Bilbo Hot Spring, which is situated at the southern part of the park, is a natural beauty where hot water gushes out of the ground forming a fountain; and used by local people and those who come from distant places as a source of cure. Wenja stone cave is a natural rock cave in the western surrounding of the park. It is attractive to sight and can accommodate about 300 hundred people at once. According to elders, the site was used to punish criminals from the community who were proved to be guilty. Local communities around Maze National Park belong to the Omotic family. The major Nationality groups that live close to the park are the Qucha, Gamo, and Gofa.

Six vegetation types namely woodland, savanna grassland, grassland with short to medium height trees, bushland, riverine forest and mixed type (woodland and grassland) primarily reside in the park. The recognized six vegetation types differ from each other in such factors as characteristic species composition, tree/shrub density, physical feature of the land they occupy, habitat nature, and degree of disturbance by the human. Of the recognized vegetation types, the most dominant vegetation types are grassland with small trees (24%) and savanna grassland (23%) and the least dense vegetation type is the mixed type (7%) where tree species grow in significant abundance.

Meteorological data obtained from Morka station, which is located 2.5 km from the park, shows the highest average annual temperature recorded is 25.4oC while the lowest being 24.5oC. On the other hand, the average annual precipitation varied between 802.5 mm and 1494.7 mm. The dominance of grassland and savanna grassland vegetation types is attributed to the hot and dry climate of the park, that enjoys up to 1500 mm of precipitation in highly variable quantities during the rainy months. The local climatic situation, therefore, might have favored grass species which complete their life-cycle within a short period.

The Park is covered by savannah grassland with scattered deciduous broad-leaved trees as well as Riverine association along the main watercourses. The Wild animal of the Maze National Park supports a wide range of savannah species. So far 39 larger and medium-sized mammals and 196 birds’ species have been recorded. It is one of the three sites in the world where a good population of the endemic Swayne’s Hartebeest’s population still survive. Besides, orbi, Bohor red buck, buffalo, warthog, bushbuck, waterbuck, greater kudu, lesser kudu, bush pig, Anubis baboon, vervet monkey, lion, leopard, wild cats, and serval other kinds of cat can easily be found in the park

Source Science Publishing Group