This site is effectively two Game Reserves under a single management unit. The site occupies much of the low-lying country north of the South Pare (TZ063) and the West Usambara mountains (TZ071) and up to the Kenyan border where it abuts Tsavo West National Park (KE025). The eastern part of the site is generally flat, with a gentle slope eastwards towards the Umba river, which forms the south-eastern border of the reserve. In the north-western sector there are a number of hills rising to Ndea at 1,420 m which have scrubby forest with affinities to the montane forest of the South Pare mountains. The Tulsa mountains (1,308 m) in the centre of the reserve are dry, rugged hills with remnant gallery forest. The whole area lies in the rain-shadow of the West Usambara mountains and the only significant surface water is behind two small dams. There are a series of rain-fed pools that are usually dry for several months each year. The woodland which covers much of the reserve is dominated by either Combretum or Acacia–Commiphora thorn-tree communities, with scattered baobabs on the well drained, rocky soils. There are extensive grasslands on the poorer soils, some of which develop into swamps following periods of heavy rainfall.
See Box and Table 3 for key species. At least 405 species are known from the site. Circus macrourus occurs as a passage migrant. The status of Crex crex is unclear, with recent records suggesting that wet grasslands in the reserve may be important for this species on passage. Several species previously unknown from Tanzania have been recorded here in recent years: Tchagra jamesi, Lamprotornis shelleyi, Phoeniculus damarensis, Mirafra pulpa, Sylvietta isabellina and Eremomela flavicrissalis. Apart from Mirafra pulpa, these are all relatively common in similar habitat northwards through Kenya into Somalia and Ethiopia and reflect Mkomazi’s location at the southernmost tip of this arid ecosystem.
Non-bird biodiversity: There is a resident population of Loxodonta africana (EN) associated with the hill-top forests and a transient population that moves within Mkomazi and Tsavo National Park. Panthera leo (VU) and Acinonyx jubatus (VU) occur in low numbers. A project has been initiated to reintroduce Diceros bicornis (CR). Lycaon pictus (EN) are very rare visitors and a reintroduction programme is being considered.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mkomazi Game Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/10/2020.