This site covers the dry, rather open habitat in the western rain-shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro. The western limit of this site is the main road running north from Arusha to the international border with Kenya, which forms the northern boundary of the site. The eastern boundary extends onto the western foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro (TZ003). The southern boundary is formed by West Kilimanjaro Ranch, an area of partially degraded grassland. Several farms and small settlements are included within this site. It is therefore one of the few IBAs in Tanzania that includes a substantial human population. Quite large areas of open short-grass habitat occupy the poorer soils while the woodland grades from Acacia–Commiphora thicket to open woodlands of Acacia xanthophloea and A. tortilis in the north-east of the site. Numerous isolated hills rise above the relatively flat landscape. The Ngare Nanyuki river flows north-east off Mount Meru to form seasonally flooded habitat. The only permanent water is found along the Kenyan border in the excavations of the abandoned Meacham mine and, although this water is alkaline, it provides safe drinking for wild mammals and herds of Masai livestock as well as birds. To the north the site borders Amboseli National Park (IBA KE042) in Kenya.
See Box and Table 3 for key species. Some 400 species have been recorded in the area. The gap between Mounts Kilimanjaro and Meru is an important corridor for Palearctic migrants, especially raptors and storks. Circus macrourus and Falco naumanni are common passage migrants, as are Hieraaetus pennatus, Aquila nipalensis, Aquila pomarina and Buteo buteo, while Falco amurensis has been recorded in reasonable numbers. Large flocks of both Ciconia ciconia and Ciconia abdimii are seen regularly. The mature Acacia woodland, especially in the south-west, holds a wide variety of birds uncommon in Tanzania such as Colius leucocephalus, Prodotiscus regulus, Anthoscopus musculus, Sylvietta brachyura and Anthus caffer. Rarer Palearctic passerines such as Sylvia nisoria and Irania gutturalis also use this habitat.The open short-grass plains support three species of sandgrouse, Sagittarius serpentarius and Ardeotis kori. The site is the eastern limit in Tanzania of the ranges of Falco rupicoloides, Calandrella somalica and Pseudalaemon fremantlii. The small, isolated and threatened Tanzanian population of Chersomanes albofasciata is known from only two areas of open grassland in the western part of this site. The taxonomic status of this population is unclear and under review. The population of Anas capensis on the permanent alkaline pools at Sinya Mine often exceeds 100 birds; several thousand Phoenicopterus minor are also regularly recorded here. Charadrius pallidus breeds, as does Himantopus himantopus. One species of the Serengeti plains EBA and 18 of the Afrotropical Highlands biome have been recorded at this site (see Tables 2 and 3).
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals include Loxodonta africana (EN), Acinonyx jubatus (VU) and Litocranius walleri (LR/cd) is present.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The IBA is contiguous with the Amboseli National Park in Kenya (KE042); Longido effectively forms a southern extension of the Amboseli plains and is used extensively by large mammals when Amboseli is dry. The extensive cutting of mature Acacia trees for charcoal and poaching remain serious problems.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Longido Game Controlled Area. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 19/10/2021.