(CNN) – Sitting on the top of the world, the Simien mountains — Ethiopia’s highest peaks — are home to some of the country’s most remote communities and some of its rarest wildlife.
Simien Mountain National Park was established in 1969 to protect the rare species of animals that are exclusive to this area. In 1978, UNESCO recognized the park’s “global significance for biodiversity conservation” and made it the world’s first natural World Heritage Site.
Now, once endangered populations are starting to thrive.
‘Bleeding heart’ monkeys
Nicknamed “bleeding heart” monkeys due to the red hairless strip these primates have on their chest, these rare baboons (officially geladas) can only be found in Ethiopia, with many residing in the Simien Mountains. Somewhat plentiful in the 1970s, the IUCN Red List puts their number today at around 200,000.
One particularly unique aspect of the geladas is that they live in caves high up in the mountains where few predators can reach.
“It’s a good habitat because it’s free of enemies, (who) can’t climb the rocks because the rocks are slippery. The only animals climbing here are the geladas,” notes Maru Biadglegn, the chief warden of Simien National Park.
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