Simien Mountains – Armed Scouts

by John Downey

Scouts are required just about everywhere in the Ethiopian backcountry.  That said, I am not aware of any animal attacks (I came within a meter of a large male Gelada baboon anyway) and insurgents always overwhelm armed guides “protecting” tourists.  Endalk, like all park scouts, was issued a weapon and permit from a tourism headquarters in Addis Ababa.  Every round is accountable and this is perhaps why every one of them grips his rifle 24/7, eating and sleeping with it.  The backcountry is loaded with a plethora of automatic weapons from all corners of the globe; a byproduct of self-funded wars where most of Ethiopia’s arsenal was comprised of captured arms.

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