Nechisar National Park

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Nechisar National Park is in eastern North Omo Zone. The zonal capital, Arba Minch, is on the western border of the park. Arba Minch is 510 km south of the capital Addis Ababa and 279 km south-west of the regional capital Awassa. Nechisar is named after the white grass that covers the undulating Nechisar plains and contrasts with the black basalt rocks of the Amaro Mountains to the east, and the black soils of the plains.
Around 15% of the park comprises portions of Lakes Abaya to the north and Chamo to the south. The water of Lake Abaya is always brown or red-brown, in contrast with Lake Chamo which has strikingly blue water and white sandy beaches. The park also covers the neck of land between the lakes which supports groundwater forest. At the foot of Mt Tabala in the south-east there are hot springs. The altitude ranges from 1,108m at the shore of Lake Chamo to 1,650m on Mt Kalia in the north-east.

The main habitats of Nechisar National Park are the lakes, their shorelines, the groundwater forest and connecting river, the dry grassy plains, thick bushland and the wooded valleys and foothills of the Amaro Mountains. Most of the park is covered in bushland, which is thick and impenetrable in places, the taller trees including Combretum spp., Dichrostachys cinerea, Acacia tortilis, Balanites aegyptiaca and occasional Acacia nilotica. In the southern part of the park, Dobera glabra and Acacia tortilis form open woodland. The grassland is edaphic, the underlying soil being calcareous black clay. The most widespread grass species is Chrysopogon aucheri.

The forest between the two lakes and by the Kulfo river is dominated by Ficus sycamorus up to 30m tall. This same area supports a number of shrubs and scramblers, but few herbs on the forest floor. The freshwater swamps at the mouth of the Kulfo River and in Lake Chamo are dominated by Typha angustifolia, tall waterside grasses, e.g. Saccharum spontaneum, and the small leguminous trees, Sesbania sesban and the legume Aeschynomene elaphroxylon.

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