Local legend states that the walia came to the park with Saint Kidus Yared who used them to carry his holy books.
First formally recorded in 1835 by the explorer, Rupell, the walia ibex is found nowhere else in the world but the Simien Mountains National Park. Walia ibex live on the steep slopes and escarpments of the Simien Mountains between 2,300 and 4,000m; however, they are mostly found between 2,500 and 3,000m. Walias live in groups and forage in open areas. Male and females usually graze separately, unless mating.
Due to its restricted range and low population numbers, the walia ibex is listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List. Before the 1980s, walia ibex sightings were rare, however groups are now easily seen and they have expanded their range as human disturbance in some key areas has decreased.
In 1966, when the park was first established there were only 150 – 300 walia ibex in the park. By 1983 numbers were estimated at 500; however this number decreased to just 200 by 1994 due to the civil war. But just ten years later, the walia ibex population increased to 500. This recent recovery has taken place exclusively in the Chennek and Bwahit areas of the park where it now easy to spot them.