Udzungwa-Mikumi

Region: Morogoro
Type: C - Continuous or semi-continuous non-agricultural land between protected areas with anecdotal information on animal movements.
Threat: Critical - probably less than 3 years remaining.
Udzungwa-Mikumi and Udzungwa-Ruaha Corridors
Udzungwa-Mikumi and Udzungwa-Ruaha Corridors

Udzungwa-Mikumi and Udzungwa-Ruaha Corridors

Map by Clint Epps.

Description

These two protected areas are connected by two possible routes for wildlife movements.

First, movement of wildlife from the western portion of Mikumi NP to Udzungwa NP may occur in the narrow hilly region south of the Dar es Salaam-Mbeya highway and north of the sugarcane plantations of the Kilombero Valley (map, Area G). Some of the area west of the road is used for military training. While settlement is therefore unlikely in this area, the effect of military activity on wildlife and wildlife movements in this intervening area is unknown.

Secondly, wildlife movement may occur out of the northern portion of Udzungwa NP into the mountains north of the Dar es Salaam-Iringa highway (an area including the currently unprotected Ilole Forest), then east through thinly-settled land to the western border of Mikumi NP north of the highway.

Wildlife

Direct movement of elephants appears to occur across the Kilombero road in the hilly area north of the sugarcane plantations (map, Area G), based on observation of elephant dung along this road. Movement of other species seems likely but has not been evaluated, although foot surveys in Mikumi NP detected well-used trails for elephant and buffalo along ridges near the western edge of the park.

Animal movements and distribution north of Udzungwa NP and east to Mikumi NP (north of the Dar-Iringa highway) have recently been studied by (a) both randomly-located and targeted cross-country walking survey transects of tracks, sign, and wildlife across the corridor and in protected areas at either end of the corridor, and (b) conversations with local people across this area. Extensive elephant sign was detected in the mountains directly north of Udzungwa NP (map - Area C).

Elephants are also known to move out of the west side of Mikumi NP; elephant sign was detected in agricultural areas near Ihombwe and west into the Pala Ulanga FR (map - Area E). Local people describe movements of elephants between Pala Ulanga FR and thinly-settled areas to the south (map - Area F); from this point contact with elephants known to occur in the Ilole Forest to the west seems likely but could not be verified during the 2006-07 surveys. If elephant movement through this area does occur, this area (map - Area F) provides the potential for direct movement between Ruaha NP and Mikumi NP as well as Udzungwa NP.

Other westward movement corridors, for instance from the north end of the Pala Ulanga range into Ukwiva Forest (map - Area D), appear to have been severed by heavy human settlement throughout the valley lying east of the Rubeho Mountains. Movement of elephants and other large mammals down the spine of the Rubeho Mountains and into the area near Ilole Forest also seems unlikely after surveys and discussion with local people in this area found no evidence of such movement.

Buffalo, sable, waterbuck and other large mammal species still occur in the largely unsettled area west of Mikumi NP, southeast of the village of Kisanga, and north of the Dar es Salaam-Mbeya highway (map - Area F).

Threats

Poaching and clearing of habitat for farms is occurring throughout the corridor; local residents often claim that wildlife movements have decreased in areas where farming or extensive grazing occurs.

Wildlife, including elephants, was detected less often in areas where these activities occurred.

Farming and settlement west of Mikumi NP appear to have expanded rapidly in the last 10 years, disrupting several former elephant corridors and threatening habitat for many other species.

The area east of Ilole Forest up to the border of Mikumi NP (map - Area F) is likely to be the last hope for elephant movements linking Mikumi to Udzungwa (by the northern route) and thus the Ruaha ecosystem via the Ruaha-Udzungwa corridor. Poaching appears to be heavy as numerous snares were encountered in this area.

References

Epps, C.W. (2006) Past and present connectivity of wildlife populations in Tanzania, East Africa. TAWIRI-COSTECH interim report (unpublished).