There are 43 known species of mammal on the Abune Yoseph massif. Of the 32 species of Abyssinian endemic mammals (endemic to Ethiopia and Eritrea), seven can be found in Abune Yoseph. The most spectacular of these are the Ethiopian wolf and gelada. Other species to look out for include: Golden jackal, hyena, caracal, leopard, rock hyrax, duiker, klipspringer and Starck's hare.

Large and Commonly Seen Mammals:

* = endemic


Gelada (photo by Ryan Burke)


Klipspringer (photo by Lluis Dantart)


Jackal (photo by Hakan Pohlstrand)


Common Name

Scientific Name

Hamadryas baboon

Papio hamadryas


Theropithecus gelada

Grivet monkey

Ceropithecus aethiops

Ethiopian wolf*

Canis simensis

Golden jackal

Canis aureus

Spotted hyena

Crocuta crocuta


Panthera pardus

Ethiopian rock hyrax

Procavia habessinica

Common duiker

Silvicapra grimmia


Oreotragus oreotragus

Starck's hare*

Lepus starcki

Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis)

Ethiopian Wolf in Abune Yoseph Ethiopia

Ethipian Wolf (Lluis Dantart, CRBA) 

Local Name: Ky Kebero

The Ethiopian wolf is the rarest canid in the world, and Africa’s most threatened carnivore. The closest living relatives of the Ethiopian wolf are grey wolves and coyotes. The Ethiopian wolf ancestor crossed over from Eurasia during the Pleistocene period less than 100,000 years ago, when sea levels were lower and Africa and the Middle East were connected. At the time, the highlands of Ethiopia were predominately Afroalpine grasslands and heathlands, and these habitats were ideal for many small mammals, particularly grass rats and molerats. This Afroalpine environment and its abundant rodents drove the Ethiopian wolf evolution morphologically into a specialized rodent hunter with an elongated muzzle, long legs and a distinctive reddish coat, with white markings and a darker tail tip. Male Ethiopian wolves weigh between 14 and 20kg, while the weight of adult females ranges from 11 to 16kg.

Ethiopian wolves live in packs of between 2 and 18 animals, which share and defend an exclusive territory. Unlike most social carnivores, Ethiopian wolves forage and feed alone during the day. In Simien they are mostly visible foraging or walking early in the morning and late in the afternoon, and occasionally in small groups, greeting or scent marking along their territory boundaries. Dens are only used during the short breeding season by pups and nursing females. The rest of the pack sleeps in the open but helps protect the den from predators and contributes food to the pups.

The Ethiopian wolf is restricted to just six isolated mountaintop areas of the Ethiopian highlands. With a total world population of between 400 to 520 individuals, it is highly endangered. As a result it is legally protected in the country from any activities that may threaten its survival. Rapidly expanding cattle and crop farming are severe threats, as well as diseases such as rabies and canine distemper transmitted from domestic dogs.

In SMNP, Ethiopian wolves are found above the limit of agriculture and they are somewhat nocturnal and alert to the presence of people. That said, visitors keeping a keen eye in the core wolf areas of the park during the early morning and late afternoon are likely to be rewarded by a sighting of these handsome and rare carnivores.

Gelada (Theropithecus gelada)

Gelada in Abune Yoseph Ethiopia

Gelada (Lluis Dantart, CRBA) 

The Bleeding Heart Local Name: Chilada

The gelada is an Old World monkey, not a baboon despite previous naming conventions. It is the only living member of the once widespread genusTheropithecus and is only found in the highlands of Ethiopia. The present day distribution of the gelada is limited to the steep escarpments and gorges that border the eastern side of the central highlands and the northwestern highlands of Ethiopia. The gelada feeds predominantly on fresh shoots of grass, and to a lesser extent on grass roots and seeds. The gelada is also called the bleeding heart baboon as a result of the distinctive, bright red, heart-shaped patch on its chest. The gelada social system consists of a hierarchy of social groupings. The basic group is a reproductive unit of the breeding males (1-4) and females (1-10) and their dependent young.

The females tend to be closely related and have strong social ties and stay in their band all their lives. A band of gelada shares a common foraging and sleeping area and may contain 2-10 reproductive units, as well as 1-3 all male groups (non-breeding males of a young age, who remain in these groups for 2-4 years before trying to enter a reproductive unit). The ranging areas of different bands overlap, and can mix easily for a short period, without any aggression, to form very large gelada ‘communities’ or herds. These herds can be up to 1,000 strong – geladas can associate in one of the largest groups of any primate on earth.

It is estimated that approximately 2,500 geladas live in the park with a further 2,000 on the surrounding Simien massif. The average band size is 200 geladas. There is a higher density of geladas in Sankaber and a lower density towards the cliffs of Gich and Chennek.

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