The Ga’an Libah mountain is a part of an extensive highland ecosystem in central Somaliland which is an extension of the Ethiopian highlands, forming the Golis Range which extends to as far as El-Madow.
The area is popular for its gazetted juniper forest and other plant species, many of them endemic to the area and its ecosystem maintained by the presence of moisture in the form of mist mainly during the cold season.
A century ago, Ga’an Libah supported large herds of elephant as well as a significant population of the lions for which it is named.
There’s nothing quite so exciting there today, but it still protects relatively dense populations of greater and lesser kudu, Speke’s gazelle, dik-dik, gerenuk, Beira, klipspringer, and desert warthog.
The cliffs are home to the baboon, and confirmed predators include leopard, caracal, spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, and bat-eared fox.
Easily explored on foot along with a network of informal trails, Ga’an Libah is a popular site with birdwatchers, as it’s the closest patch of forest to Hargeisa.
Birdlife includes the endemic Somali thrush and Archer’s buzzard, as well as the near-endemic Somali starling, and several other woodland birds with a limited distribution in Somaliland, for instance, African scops owl, Alpine swift, Nyanza Swift, Hemprich’s hornbill, white-bellied go-away bird, greater honeyguide, white-rumped babbler, brown-rumped seedeater, Ethiopian boubou, and the various bee-eaters, barbets, woodpeckers, and warblers.
Even if you are not interested in wildlife, the clifftop viewpoint about 1km from the headquarters is spectacular, offering sweeping views across the arid plains below.
Other attractions of these limestone hills include a network of caves, some of which are reputedly decorated with prehistoric rock art, and a number of other archaeological sites, including pre-Islamic stelae and other grave markers.