Udzungwa-Ruaha

Region: Iringa
Type: D - Known animal movement routes between two protected areas.
Threat: Critcal - 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 separated by a wide area subject to a variety of human activities. The Idodi-Pawaga WMA forms an eastern extension of the Ruaha ecosystem.

Further to the east lies the Lunda GCA, extending to the Nyang’oro Hills of Ismani District, and the Ruaha GCA in Dodoma region north of the Ruaha River and downriver of Mtera Dam (map, Area A).

The Image FR (south of the Ruaha River; map, Area B) lies in mountainous terrain about halfway between Ruaha and Udzungwa NPs and may also serve as a ‘stepping stone’ for wildlife such as elephants and large carnivores.

Wildlife

Animal movements and distribution across this area 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.

Elephant sign was detected continuously from Ruaha NP, through Idodi-Pawaga WMA, between Mtera Reservoir and the escarpment to the south eastward into the Nyang’oro Hills, on both sides of the Ruaha River downstream of Mtera (including well north of the river through the Ruaha GCA of Dodoma region; map, Area A), in Ilole FR (map, Area B), along the Ruaha River in the vicinity of Idodoma and Nyanzwa, east to the area around Malolo B (Kilosa District, Morogoro Region), further east into the mountains directly north of Udzungwa NP (map, Area C), and south to the Dar-Mbeya highway (map, Area H).

Only one major crossing point of this highway has currently been verified and is located a few kilometers west of the village of Mtandika. From here, elephants can cross the Lukosi River and easily access Udzungwa NP.

Although extensive elephant activity (both wet and dry season) was documented in the mountains north of Udzungwa NP (map, Area C), regular movements from this area into Udzungwa NP could not be verified.

Many other wildlife species were detected in the more intact habitats across this corridor, including large predators (leopard and spotted hyaena), ungulates such as greater kudu and impala, and buffalo and giraffe in isolated locations.

Threats

Poaching and clearing of habitat for farms are occurring throughout the corridor; local residents often claim that wildlife movements have decreased in areas where farming or extensive grazing occurs. Large mammals, including elephants, were detected less often in areas where these activities occurred.

Probably the most vulnerable section of the corridor is the Mtandika crossing point of the Dar es Salaam-Mbeya highway (map, Area H). Irrigation schemes and onion cultivation have increased very rapidly in this area in the last few years and traffic on the highway is often heavy.

This point may mark the only viable connection between northern and southern populations of elephants in eastern and central Tanzania and needs swift action to prevent permanent disruption and reduce human/elephant conflict in this region.

References

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

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