Rufiji District Coastal Forests

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
Rufiji District covers a wedge of low-lying land extending from the Rufiji delta 175 km inland, along both banks of the Rufiji river. The western part of the district is included within the Selous Game Reserve (TZ018). Twenty-three Forest Reserves are listed for Rufiji District. Only two have been investigated for their birds, Kiwengoma (2,025 ha) in the Matumbi Hills and Mangrove-Rufiji (included in site TZ032). The Kichi Hills which rise to 616 m, some 30 km south-south-west of Utete, are cloaked in what appears to be woodland with forest in the wetter valleys. The following Forest Reserves, both north and south of the Rufiji river, are not currently included as part of this IBA, but require further investigation: Katundu, Kikale, Kipo, Mchungu, Mohoro, Mpanga, Mtanza, Mtita, Namakutwa, Ngulakula, Nyumburuni, Nyamuete, Ruhoi river, Rupiage, Tamburu and Utete.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 3 for key species. Circaetus fasciolatus is probably a low-density resident. Zoothera guttata has not been recorded from this IBA, but can be expected to occur on passage. The Rufiji river is an important physical barrier for several bird populations. Examples of this include Pitta angolensis, which breeds up to the Rufiji, but not north of it, Erythrocercus holochlorus of the northern coast which is replaced by Erythrocercus livingstonei from the river southwards, and the northern coastal population of Ploceus bicolor is of the race kersteni while south of the Rufiji it is the distinctive race stictifrons.

Non-bird biodiversity: The forests of the Matumbi Hills are known to support a few endemic plant species and a probable endemic shrew. The Kichi Hills are also botanically rich, although their faunas are not known.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Kiwengoma forest and adjacent areas is one of the largest blocks of contiguous forest in coastal Tanzania yet much of it is not afforded any official protection. During the late 1980s and early 1990s much of the timber of commercial value was removed illegally. However, the remaining habitat is still believed to be in reasonable condition and recent initiatives by WWF and the Forest Department to have the forest gazetted are making encouraging progress. A detailed survey of the Kichi Hills and of all the other unknown forest blocks is needed.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Rufiji District Coastal Forests. Downloaded from on 25/06/2022.