Cal Madow

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Cal Madow
Almadow Overview.JPG
Overview of the Cal Madow mountains
Highest point
Elevation2,410 metres (7,907 ft)[1]
Coordinates10°44′09″N 47°14′42″E / 10.73583°N 47.24500°E / 10.73583; 47.24500Coordinates: 10°44′09″N 47°14′42″E / 10.73583°N 47.24500°E / 10.73583; 47.24500
Native nameعلمدو (Arabic)
Cal Madow is located in Somalia
Cal Madow
Cal Madow
Location in Somalia
Parent rangeOgo Mountains
Easiest routeHike

Cal Madow (also Al Madow, Al Medu, Calmadow or Al Mado) (Somali: Buuraha Calmadow, Arabic: علمدو‎) is a mountain range in Somalia. It stretches across an area between the west of Bosaso to northwest of Erigavo. Its peak sits at almost 2500 m in Shimbiris, northwest of Erigavo. Cal Madow was a tourist destination in the late 1980s. The local population of the Sanaag region is primarily responsible for preserving the habitat, which continues to face the risk of deforestation.


A camel peering over the leafier portions of Cal Madow

The dense mountain forest sits at an altitude of between 700–800 m above sea level, and has a mean annual rainfall of 750–850 mm. In addition to rainfall, Cal Madow receives additional precipitation in the form of fog and winter rains, which sustain isolated forests of juniperus, buxus etc. Mist also appears to be important in the distribution of juniperus (dayib), one of the species locals use for timber. For timber production, the buxus (dhoqos), buxus and celtis (boodaar) poles are cut from living trees in the evergreen forest. The discovery of the locust bean (ceratonia), lavenders and many other plant species has emphasized the many links the Cal Madow highlands have with the Mediterranean region. The Lamadaya waterfalls is one of the best scenery in Cal Madow.

Despite the current changes in land use, Cal Madow has internationally valuable unexploited mineral deposits and unique natural habitats. It is considered a key area for oil exploration, and has a petroleum system identical to and formerly contiguous with those within the Republic of Yemen. Florally, Cal Madow has approximately 1,000 plant species, 200 of which are only found on this mountain range.

Cal Madow and adjacent areas also have richer fauna than many other parts of Horn of Africa, and harbor some of the rarest and most localized of Somali endemic animal species. Here, Warsangli linnet (Carduelis johannis), pigeons (acanthus olivae) and golden-winged grosbeaks can be observed, as can antelopes such as the beira (dorcatragus megalotis), and different sub-species of gazelle.

Environmental protection[edit]

The unique flora of Cal Madow.

Cal Madow's environment has suffered greatly in recent years along with its ecology, much of which is unique to it. Only a fraction of the flora remains, and its distribution remains sparse and unprotected. Although local knowledge of natural resources endemic to the area is great, agricultural and social projects as well as United Nations and foreign-aided development schemes usually failed to consider or make use of this insight. However, in the core zone of the Juniperus procera mountainous forest, ECOTERRA Intl, based on a request of the late Sultan of the Warsangeli clan, Suldan Abdisallam, renewed by his successor, Suldan Said, maintains since 1989 a low key environmental awareness and nature protection programme through local groups. In addition the growing of drought-resistant Rye and permaculture have been introduced to the local farmers by the organization.

Detailed further conservation studies of the Cal Madow mountain range are needed to ascertain the present status of these areas, and to provide guidelines for and highlight the benefits of sustainable agricultural practices in the face of scarce forest resources. With a lack of proper utilization and conservation, the local plant life is threatened and therefore so is the wildlife which depends on it. The numerous plants indigenous to Cal Madow ensure that a proper study and assessment would yield benefits both to the region's human inhabitants and medical science in general.

The flora of Somalila, much of which constitutes unique genetic resources, contains more than 3000 species of vascular plants, and is thus much richer than that of the Sahel region in general. Of the 156 plant families observed in Somalia, about 21% are restricted to the northern part of the country, while 11% are found in the south. Somalia houses a greater number of endemic plant species, many of which grow in the northern and eastern regions, notably in Cal Madow. Most of these species are herbs not found anywhere else in the world.

Botanical survey[edit]

Closeup of Cal Madow's plant species.

In January 1995, a team of botanists led by Dr. Mats Thulin of Uppsala University in Sweden visited the Cal Madow range on behalf of the Flora Somalia Project based in Uppsala. The study they conducted under the guidance of Somali Prof. Ahmed Warfa (Department of Botany and Range, Somali National University) constituted the most extensive botanical survey ever done in the area, with about eight new species of plant discovered in the process.

Furthermore, the area houses an important germplasm, which requires protection from overexploitation and destruction by humans. On the basis of the recent botanical survey in Cal Madow, the team recommended that the local forest should be conserved as a national monument, as it plays an important role in the mountain range's ecosystem and represents a valuable natural resource.

In addition, the forests offer unique opportunities for education and research. The agricultural benefit of clearing the forests, on the other hand, are negligible. The development of a wildlife reserve in these areas is under way and implemented by ECOTERRA Intl. together with the Calmadow Trust. International support should encourage the development of a study center, which would increase awareness of the value of the forest and provide long-term employment benefits. Some of the degraded forest areas could thereby be brought to a more natural state, while other areas would be developed for timber, fuelwood and honey production. Improved in the efficiency of the present farming, education and medical facilities are also crucial to the success of the proposed wildlife reserve.



  • Thulin, M. 1994. Cal Madow, Somalia and Hobyo, Somalia. In: S. D. Davis, V. H. Heywood & C. Hamilton (eds.), Centres of Plant Diversity, a guide and strategy for their conservation, Vol. 1: 194-197.
  • Calmadow Trust Calmadow Trust
  • "Somali montane xeric woodlands". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.