The Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site defined by its unique ecosystems and home to a number of endemic and endangered species, such as the Ethiopian wolf, the Walia ibex, and the gelada.
While the SMNP was recently taken off of the World Heritage Site in Danger list (where it had been placed since 1996), there remain significant but manageable conservation issues that are centrally related to the rise of tourism in the area:
1) Tourist campsite trash pits are shallow and uncovered. This allows the wildlife of the SMNP to feed in the trash pits, exposing them to human diseases and disrupting their natural ecologies. Additionally, trash from uncovered trash pits is strewn across the escarpments by birds and wind, marring the landscape and posing additional harm to wildlife.
2) High numbers of tourists are trekking the single trail that winds along the escarpments from the Simien Lodge to Chenek. Along with this beneficial increase in visitors comes increased wear on the trail-- mostly in the form of trash and human waste. Government funds are currently lacking to hire trail management workers.
With the money we raise from people concerned with the well-being of SMNP wildlife and local economies, we will complete the following projects:
1) Deepen and cover the trash pits at the 3 most frequented SMNP campsites. We have developed a blueprint for this renovation with the local park management. The cost of materials and labor for these renovations is estimated at $2,500 USD. Laborers will be hired from local communities.
2) Hire members of the local community to maintain the trails and campsites. Workers will be paid per diem, and will be hired for one Saturday a month. We aim to not only minimize the impact of tourism on the park, but also to provide jobs and bring together the local communities. The per diem rate for workers is 100 Birr-- $4 USD-- and each team will have 10 workers. Teams will be assigned to 4 areas of the park, so we will budget $2,500 USD for a year's worth of trail maintenance.
This is the beginning of a long-term conservation initiative. We will pair these activities with outreach to guides, tourists, and local communities, and will aim to encourage the park to integrate outreach and park maintenance into their yearly budget. Until then, we hope that you will consider helping us kick-start this initiative to protect one of the most unusual and beautiful places in the world!
Details of fundraiser:
1) My name is India Schneider-Crease, and I have worked in the Simien Mountains National Park since 2013. I am a part of a small nonprofit called Save the Simiens, which is run on a strictly volunteer basis by four people and has no overhead costs (or any costs, for that matter).
2) I'm from New York City, did my PhD at Duke University, and am now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington and Stony Brook University.
3) Money is donated to me, and I am
in charge of withdrawing and spending the money raised here.
4) Donations will be spent exclusively on materials and labor for the garbage pits, and materials and stipends for conservation clean up teams from local communities for 12 months.
5) I am the person to whom money is being donated, the person who will withdraw the money, and the person who will supervise the projects funded by these donations.