Uluguru Mountains

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description (baseline)
The Uluguru mountains rise abruptly out of the coastal plain at 300 m and run north–south. Except for the boggy grassland of Lukwangule plateau, they are characterized by many steep, forested peaks, with four distinct forest zones: lowland semi-evergreen forest; submontane evergreen and semi-evergreen forest, found mainly on the eastern side of the mountain; montane evergreen forest, which is found in a broad belt around the mountain; and an upper montane or lower subalpine zone which occurs above 2,100 m in Uluguru North and above 2,400 m in Uluguru South. Submontane to upper montane forest is now found almost exclusively in the smaller Uluguru North Catchment Forest Reserve (CFR) (8,356 ha), which is separated from the Uluguru South CFR (17,292 ha) by the Bunduki depression. The lower edge of the forest lies variously between 1,000 and 2,000 m elevation, with a few narrow strips down to 650 m. Forest once extended lower, but large areas have been converted to agriculture. Lowland forest at c.300 m remains only on the eastern face of the mountains in the Mkungwe (1,967 ha), Kimboza (405 ha), and Ruvu (3,093 ha) Forest Reserves (each of which is included in the IBA), and in a few other small patches. In most areas, subsistence agriculture is now carried out right up to the edge of the Forest Reserves, and a few small encroachments have been noted above Morogoro. The forests of the Uluguru mountains form the main catchment for the Ruvu river, the water-supply for Dar es Salaam.The Ulugurus are somewhat isolated and lie to the north-east of the Udzungwas (TZ066) and Uvidundas (TZ072) ranges and to the east of the Rubeho (TZ064) and Ukagurus (TZ067). This isolation is tempered by remnant forest on Nguru ya Ndege, a tiny peak (1,357 m) 20 km to the north-west and Malundwe mountain (1,200 m) within Mikumi National Park midway between the Ulugurus and the Uvidundas.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Falco fasciinucha may also occur. This is the only locality at which Malaconotus alius and Nectarinia loveridgei occur. With two endemic species and five endemic races—Andropadus tephrolaemus, Sheppardia sharpei, Phylloscopus umbrovirens, Apalis thoracica and Orthotomus metopias—the Uluguru mountains are extremely important. The remnant lowland forest at Kimboza CFR in the eastern foothills holds an isolated population of Campephaga quiscalina and three species associated with the East African Coast biome occur (see Table 3). Rare birds such as Ploceus bertrandi occur in damp valleys below the forest-edge, while Apus barbatus and Schoutedenapus myoptilus feed above the forest and undoubtedly nest within the Forest Reserves. The waterfalls are frequented by Onychognathus tenuirostris and the open hillsides resound to the reeling song of Cisticola woosnami. Falco biarmicus nests among the many cliff-faces and Falco peregrinus may also nest, but is seemingly much less common.

Non-bird biodiversity: The Ulugurus are rich in plant life, with 40 endemic woody plant species. The mammals Galagoides zanzibaricus (LR/nt), Rhynchocyon petersi (EN) and Cephalophus spadix (VU) occur. Three of the reptiles are strictly endemic and 10 Eastern Arc Endemics occur while six of the forest amphibians are strict endemics (11 Eastern Arc endemics). The invertebrate fauna is exceptionally rich in endemics; millipedes (86% of the taxa recorded are endemic), linyphiid spiders (86%), butterflies (27%), harvestmen (88%), montane ground-beetles (95%), pselaphids (100%) and montane forest earwigs (91%).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Very little forest remains outside the Forest Reserves and the protected forests face increasing human pressure. Felling trees (legally and illegally) for timber, firewood and building poles occurs in the reserves, but at a lower rate than in the remaining ungazetted forest. Uncontrolled fires are a regular feature of some areas. Clearance of the remaining ungazetted forest for subsistence and cash-crop cultivation is a major concern, and the little forest that remains outside the reserves is being rapidly removed. In some areas (those with access to roads) commercial farming has developed to supply the markets of Dar es Salaam and Morogoro with fruit and vegetables. A major conservation initiative is under way, undertaken by a consortium of Governmental and non-governmental organizations, led by the BirdLife International Partners in Tanzania and Denmark, and funded by DANIDA.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Uluguru Mountains. Downloaded from on 02/06/2023.