Omo National Park

Coordinates: 6°0′N 35°50′E / 6.000°N 35.833°E / 6.000; 35.833
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Omo National Park
Omo River located in the eastern part of Omo National Park
Map showing the location of Omo National Park
Map showing the location of Omo National Park
Location in Ethiopia
LocationSouthern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region, Ethiopia
Nearest cityJinka
Coordinates6°0′N 35°50′E / 6.000°N 35.833°E / 6.000; 35.833
Area4,068 km2 (1,571 sq mi)

Omo National Park is a national park in Ethiopia founded in 1980. Located in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region on the west bank of the Omo River, the park covers approximately 4,068 square kilometers, about 870 kilometers southwest of Addis Ababa; across the Omo is the Mago National Park and the Tama Wildlife Reserve. Although an airstrip was recently built near the park headquarters on the Mui River, this park is not easily reachable; the Lonely Planet guide Ethiopia and Eritrea describes Omo National Park as "Ethiopia's most remote park."[1]


Omo National Park is located on the west bank of the Omo River in the lower Omo Valley. The park is 140 km long, stretching from the Neruze River in the south to the Sharum plain in the north, and up to 60 km wide where the Park Headquarters are situated. Major land features include the Omo River on the east, the Maji Mountains, the Sharum, and Sai plains to the north and west, and the Illibai plains and Dirga Hills to the south.[2] There are three hot springs, and the park is crossed by some rivers, all of which drain into the Omo. The Mui River crosses the middle of the park before joining the Omo River. Much of the park is at 800m but the southern part by the Neruze River drops to 450 m. The highest peak of Maji Mountains which is located within the park is 1,541 m above sea level.[3]


The vegetation of Omo National Park is mostly open savannah, thickets, and riverine woodland that lies near the western banks of the Omo River. Species include Ficus sycomorus, Tapura fischeri, Melanodiscus oblongus, Celtis integrifolia, Trichilia roka, Cordia sinensis, Acacia mellifera, and Ziziphus mauritiana.[4]


The park offers excellent opportunities to view wildlife with 73 species of mammals and 312 species of birds.


Omo National Park is home to large herds of buffalos, zebras, elands, beisa oryxes, tiangs, Lelwel hartebeests, dik-diks, bushbucks, reedbucks, and Grant's gazelles. Other mammals that are elusively rare to find include elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, bushpigs, African wild dogs, giraffes, oribis, klipspringers, greater kudus, hyenas, black rhinoceros, hippopotamuses, and warthogs.[5] Primates such as the Mantled guerezas, Olive baboons, and De Brazza monkeys also live within forested areas.


Bird species of this park consist of ostriches, eagles, egrets, herons, barbets, honeyguides, kingfishers, Secretary birds, woodpeckers, parrots, shrikes, and weavers also thrived here.[6]


Omo national park is also home to nile crocodiles, Black mambas, African spurred tortoises, Black-necked spitting cobras, Rhombic Night Adder, puff adders, and rock pythons that are common here.[7] [8]


The lower reaches of the Omo river were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, after the discovery (in the Omo Kibish Formation) of the earliest known fossil fragments of Homo sapiens, which have been dated circa 195,000 years old.


Visitors Accommodation[edit]

There is virtually no tourist infrastructure within the park and little support for travelers. It was reported in 1999 that none of the tourist agencies within or outside Ethiopia would arrange tours in the park.[9] The Walta Information Center announced on 3 October 2006 that US$1 million had been allocated to construct "roads and recreational centers as well as various communication facilities" with the intent to attract more visitors.[10]

Park management issues[edit]

The Mursi, Suri, Nyangatom, Dizi, and Me'en are reported in danger of displacement and/or denial of access to their traditional grazing and agricultural land. This follows the demarcation of the Park boundaries in November 2005, and the recent management takeover of the park by African Parks.[11] This process threatens to make the Omo people illegal squatters on their land.[12]

There are reports that these tribal peoples have been coerced into signing documents they could not read by Park officials.[13]

In October 2008, African Parks announced they were giving up the management of the Omo National Park and leaving Ethiopia. AP stated that sustainable management of the Ethiopian parks is incompatible with 'the irresponsible way of living of some of the ethnic groups. The organization has trouble dealing with the indigenous population trying to continue its traditional way of life within the park borders.[14]

Sugar Cane Plantation[edit]


  1. ^ Matt Philips and Jean-Bernard Carillet, Ethiopia and Eritrea, third edition (n.p.: Lonely Planet, 2006), p. 211
  2. ^ Abebe Armaw & Mikias Biazen Molla | Michael Hardman (Reviewing editor) (2022) Assessing the trend and magnitude of land cover dynamics and its major driving forces in Omo National Park, Southern Ethiopia, Cogent Social Sciences, 8:1, DOI: 10.1080/23311886.2022.2042055
  3. ^ Gil-Romera, Graciela & Turton, David & Sevilla-Callejo, Miguel. (2011). Landscape change in the lower Omo valley, southwestern Ethiopia: Burning patterns and woody encroachment in the savanna. Journal of Eastern African Studies. 5. 108-128. 10.1080/17531055.2011.544550.
  4. ^ Carr, Claudia. (1998). Patterns of Vegetation along the Omo River in Southwest Ethiopia. Plant Ecology. 135. 135-163. 10.1023/A:1009704427916.
  5. ^ Renaud, Pierre-Cyril. "Omo National Park Report for the Wet Season Aerial Survey." African Elephant Database, African Parks Conservation, (June 2007)
  6. ^ "Omo National Park Bird Checklist - Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World." Avibase, Accessed May 27 2022
  7. ^ Renaud, Pierre-Cyril. "Omo National Park Report for the Wet Season Aerial Survey." African Elephant Database, African Parks Conservation, (June 2007)
  8. ^ A Glimpse at Biodiversity Hotspots of Ethiopia (PDF). Ethiopian Wildlife & Natural History Society. p. 79-80. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-16.
  9. ^ "Local History in Ethiopia" Archived 2011-05-28 at the Wayback Machine The Nordic Africa Institute website (accessed 29 January 2008)
  10. ^ African Parks reorganizing Omo National Park with over 1mln USD Archived 2007-03-10 at the Wayback Machine (WIC, accessed 6 October 2006)
  11. ^ African Parks Foundation
  12. ^ Omo People in danger of denial of access or displacement Archived 2006-12-07 at the Wayback Machine Native Solutions to Conservation Refugees website
  13. ^ Anthropologist David Turton's comments on the Mursi and the Omo Park situation
  14. ^ "Why African Parks Network is pulling out of Ethiopia"

External links[edit]