Katavi/ Rukwa/ Lukwati-Rungwa/ Kisigo/ Muhesi

Region: Rukwa , Kigoma
Type: C - Continuous or semi-continuous non-agricultural land between protected areas with anecdotal information on animal movements.
Threat: Moderate - less than 20 years remaining.
The Katavi/Rukwa/Lukwati-Rungwa/Kisigo/Muhesi Corridor
The Katavi/Rukwa/Lukwati-Rungwa/Kisigo/Muhesi Corridor

The Katavi/Rukwa/Lukwati-Rungwa/Kisigo/Muhesi Corridor

Description

Katavi-Rukwa-Lukwati and Rungwa-Kisigo-Muhesi-Ruaha ecosystems are both principally miombo ecosystems. There is a large area of uninhabitated miombo woodland lying between these two protected areas centred on and north of the Rungwa River that flows west into Lake Rukwa. This area includes scattered villages and small towns such as Rungwa ya Zamani (uninhabited), Inyonga, Kitunda and Rungwa.

One road from Itigi to Chunya bisects this corridor but it is a dirt road used relatively little. The area is legally protected by the Rukwa and Lukwati GRs to the west, and Rungwa-Kisigo-Muhesi GRs to the East. Between them lie a series of Game Controlled Areas (GCA).

The area is important because  Matandala/Mbaga Mountains to the south east of the area form very important water catchments that feed the Lukwati Game Reserve; while the Mwipa and Mwise Rivers feed the Rungwa River; and the Mwaliji and Lueja Rivers feed the Piti River that flows into the Rungwa River. This water maintains large floodplains and borasas palm throughout the dry season and an abundance of wildlife.

Wildlife

ElephantLarge concentrations of elephant move from the south western part of the corridor area from the top of the Lake Rukwa escarpment, along the Lukwati River, then on to the Mwipa and Mwise Rivers and northwards to the Piti and Rungwa Rivers during the dry season. Elephant also move from the south through the Matandala / Mbaga mountains to the Mwaliji / Lueja Rivers in the eastern part of the area. Also movement takes place from the Ruaha National Park and Rungwa Game Reserve to the east towards the Mwaliji / Lueja rivers during the dry part of the season.

During the rains, movement of the elephant tends to reverse itself. Some go back towards the Rungwa Game Reserve, some through the Lukwati Game Reserve towards the Rukwa basin, Kavu River and Lake Chada in Katavi National Park.

It is thought that wild dogs used to move between Rungwa, Kisigo and Muhesi GRs (and perhaps Ruaha NP) and the Katavi NP – Rukwa/Lykwati GR complex, but radio collaring is needed to confirm this.

Movements of other animals are unknown but it is likely that non-migratory herbivores and carnivores live in this corridor rather than move through it. Rhinoceros have been seen in this area.

Threats

Logging is extensive in this area not only to the railway terminus at Mpanda sometimes channeled through Inyonga, and to Tabora out through Ipole, but out through Chunya and north to Tabora. Hunting blocks have opened up roads to loggers and poachers. Additionally, agriculture is expanding from the south along the Chunya-Rungwa Road with new villages appearing rapidly. Miombo is being cleared for crops, tobacco cultivation and charcoal manufacture. There is a road in between Ntakatta and Kakungu and people are rapidly moving into the Kakungu area to farm so this route is probably already disturbed. Cattle move through the area with temporary bomas all along the main road and along the road from Lupa NE to the borders of the Usangu GR. 

Although this corridor is not immediately threatened, there needs to be some action to formalize the connection through Piti to Lukwati-Muipa. With the WD, Danny McCallum has been trying to establish a new Mwipa/Piti GR from what is Chunya West, Chunya East and Piti West OAs that could increase protection.  Also, a lot more attention needs to be paid to the areas along both sides of the Rungwa River where it exits the Rungwa-Kisigo GR and heads through inhabited areas before entering the huge block of forest and GRs to the west.

Finally, there is a forested area on top of the high plateau to the northwest of the Isunkaviola Plateau in Ruaha NP.  This area is unprotected but is an important catchment for the small permanent streams and rivers cross the main road from Lupa to Rungwa.  Furthermore, this forest habitat and the riverine vegetation, is thought to be primarily ‘western’ in affinity and not directly related to the forested areas on the Eastern Arc Mountains.  This area would form a logical part of any proposed corridor and it is very important from a catchment and most likely a biodiversity perspective as well.

References

Letter to Director of Wildlife 4/4/2003 from Danny McCallum.

Coppolillo et al. (2006) Final report for Fish and Wildlife Elephant Grant.