Katavi lies south-east of Mahali Mountain National Park (TZ005), 40 km east of Lake Tanganyika at Karema, and extends eastwards around the northern shoulder of the Ufipa plateau towards Lake Rukwa (TZ033). The original National Park covered an area of seasonally inundated flood-plain grassland with an associated series of small lakes and swamps, and areas of miombo woodland to the south and west. The park has recently been doubled in size to incorporate more of the wide Kafufu river valley to the west and south-west. It now abuts Mlele Game Controlled Area, which is contiguous with Lukwati Game Reserve, which in turn meets Lake Rukwa. The north-eastern boundary of the park runs along the Mulele Hills which rise (outside the park) to over 1,500 m. The western area of the park forms the eastern boundary of the Karema Gap, a zoogeographical boundary between the Tanzania–Malawi mountains Endemic Bird Area (EBA 105) and the Albertine Rift mountains (EBA 106) to the north-west.
See Box and Table 3 for key species. The site is in an area of south-western Tanzania that is ornithologically poorly known. A full species checklist is not available, but is likely to exceed 400 species. Regular monitoring of waterbirds is likely to reveal that the site regularly holds more than 1% of the biogeographic populations of Pelecanus onocrotalus, Ardeola ralloides, Anastomus lamelligerus and Plegadis falcinellus, but data are not yet available.There are few records of Falco naumanni, but it may be seasonally common on passage. Similarly, Circus macrourus is known from very few records, but the site is within its passage and wintering range. Gallinago media is likely to occur, but there have been no confirmed records. There is a single record of Balaeniceps rex from 1996.The park may support a population of the restricted-range Ploceus reichardi (the distribution of which defines Secondary Area s055), which is known from similar habitat to the west and east. However, there have only been unconfirmed records as yet. In addition, five species of the Somali–Masai biome have been recorded (see Table 3).
Non-bird biodiversity: Among mammals, Loxodonta africana (EN) occur in reasonable numbers and Panthera leo (VU) are found throughout the area.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The recent expansion of the park’s boundaries has enhanced its value and viability substantially. Should any further expansion be considered, the incorporation of the Mulele Hills and the area to the north-west along the Katuma river would be of biodiversity conservation benefit and protect valuable water catchments. The area remains sparsely populated and there are few apparent threats to the park’s habitats. However, commercial poaching presents a serious threat to the large mammals and trees within the park.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Katavi National Park. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 23/09/2021.