Nechisar National Park
Nechisar National Park (also spelled as Nech Sar) is one of the National Parks of Ethiopia. Located in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR) immediately to the east of Arba Minch, its 514 square kilometers of territory include the "Bridge of God" (an isthmus between Lakes Abaya and Chamo), and the Nechisar (English: white grass) plains east of the lakes. Park elevations range between 1108 and 1650 meters above sea level. Nechisar National Park was established in 1974. Under the management of African Parks Network (APN since 2005, it is reportedly scheduled to hand over management to the Ethiopian government in June 2008.
The important regional centre to the park is Arba Minch in the Main Ethiopian Rift. Approximately 15% of the park consists of lakes including Lake Abaya in the north and Lake Chamo in the south. Part of the habitat consists of the groundwater forest and shoreline of the lakes, but there are dry grassy plains, and most of the park is covered in thick bushland and the wooded valleys and foothills of the Amaro Mountains. The altitude ranges from 1,108 meters above sea level at the shore of Lake Chamo to 1,650 meters on Mount Tabala in the north-east, renowned for its hot springs.
The forest between the two lakes and by the Kulfo river is dominated by Ficus sycamorus which can grow up to 30m tall. Extensive areas to the west of Lake Abaya were cleared in the 1960s and 1970s to establish large-scale mechanized farms for cotton and other crops.
The freshwater swamps at the mouth of the Kulfo River and in Lake Chamo are dominated by Typha angustifolia, tall waterside grasses and the small leguminous trees, such as Aeschynomene elaphroxylon and Sesbania sesban. Taller trees found in the park include Dichrostachys cinerea, Acacia tortilis, Balanites aegyptiaca and less common Acacia nilotica. The southern part of the park is dominated by edaphic grassland and a calcareous black clay soil underneath with Dobera glabra, Acacia tortilis and the grass Chrysopogon aucheri
forming much of the landscape.
Both Lake Abaya and Chamo have substantial fish populations, notably Nile perch, which forms the basis of the local fishing industry. Crocodiles inhabit both lakes and there is a crocodile farm near Lake Abaya. At Chamo crocodiles are exploited for their skins.