Nguru Mountains

Site description (2001 baseline):

Site location and context
The Nguru mountains are a spectacular collection of peaks, cliff-faces and forest-covered slopes, many far too steep for any cultivation. Although they are further inland than the Uluguru mountains (TZ068), 80 km to the south, they are sufficiently exposed to the wet south-east trade winds that local rainfall is high (annual mean 1,800 mm.). There are only three Forest Reserves of any size in the mountains: Nguru South Catchment Forest Reserve (CFR) (at 19,793 ha, one of the largest undisturbed blocks of montane forest remaining in Tanzania), Mkindo CFR (7,451 ha) and Kanga South CFR (6,664 ha). Kanga CFR is somewhat isolated to the north-east of the main block by the Mjonga river valley. The mountain range is separated from the Ulugurus by the flood-plain of the Mkata and Wami rivers, and from the Ukagurus (TZ067) 50 km to the south-west by extensive lower hills cloaked in Brachystegia woodland. To the north lie the Nguu mountains (TZ060) and to the north-west a series of hills descend to the dry Masai steppe. At the steep eastern foot of the mountains the coastal plain extends through rich woodland to the coast 120 km away.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. A notable absence is Bathmocercus winifredae, which has not been recorded in the Ngurus, yet it occurs in both the Ukaguru (TZ067) and Uluguru mountains (TZ068). The Ukagurus are also the current known northern limit of Sheppardia lowei, but this too may occur in the Ngurus. The recent discovery of a population of Sheppardia gunningi in the Nguu mountains raises the possibility that species may occur at lower elevations in the Nguru mountains, which are occupied at higher altitudes by the closely related Sheppardia sharpei.

Non-bird biodiversity: There is little information available for other animal groups, although an endemic chameleon Rhampholeon sp. nov. has been collected, and several of the Eastern Arc endemic reptiles and amphibians are recorded. Kanga is rich in endemic and rare plants while Nguru South contains over 40 endemic woody plants.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The eastern, wetter base of the mountains has been settled for many years and the lowland includes large commercial sugar estates. There are several well-established missions in the area including an important hospital at Turiani. Encroachment and fire appear to be severe problems in the lowland forests, which have been heavily logged. Illegal pitsawing of the remaining large trees has been a particular problem in Nguru South. The forest in Kanga CFR appears to still be relatively undisturbed.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Nguru Mountains. Downloaded from on 28/02/2024.