Lake Natron, Tanzania and its wildlife

This video from Tanzania says about itself:

18 September 2012

The Alkaline tilapia of Lake Natron in Arusha, Tanzania. This kind of species are delicious food to … Flamingoes and Pelicans of Lake Natron in the village of Engaresero.

From BirdLife:

Irreplaceable – Lake Natron, Tanzania

By Zoltan Waliczky, 13 Oct 2016

Lake Natron is world famous for its breeding Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor, of which about half a million pairs regularly visit the lake for nesting and raising their young. There are also large numbers of other waterbirds, both migratory and resident.  Lake Natron is a shallow highly-saline lake in a closed basin on the floor of the Eastern Rift Valley. It is 1,540 km2, but only 50 cm deep. The IBA is also a Ramsar Site (wetland of international importance) but has no national protection status.

The biggest threat to the lake comes from plans to open one or more mines to exploit the rich soda ash deposits of the lake. This would not only affect the water levels and quality, and hence the breeding flamingos and other waterbirds, but also nature tourism, which is an important income generator in the wider area. In 2007-09, BirdLife led a campaign with support from the the Lake Natron Consultative Group (a coalition of 56 institutions), which successfully defeated a large-scale soda ash plant development at the site. Since then, BirdLife has implemented projects aimed at improving local communities’ livelihoods and boosting tourism.

Unfortunately, the lake is still not totally safe. Although the current government is in favour of conservation, the situation may change again in the future, so getting widespread support for conservation from local people is key to defending the lake from future attacks.

Hippopotamus, herbivorous or carnivorous?

This video from Tanzania is called Serengeti – king hippo.

From Mammal Review:

Carnivory in the common hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius: implications for the ecology and epidemiology of anthrax in African landscapes

6 December 2015


The common hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius (‘hippo’) is a keystone species whose foraging activities and behaviour have profound effects on the structure and dynamics of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems within its habitat.

Although hippos are typically regarded as obligate herbivores and short-grass grazing specialists, field studies have demonstrated that hippos are facultative carnivores that consume flesh and intestinal tissues from the carcasses of other animals. Carnivory by hippos is not an aberrant behaviour restricted to particular individuals in certain localities, but a behaviour pattern that occurs within populations distributed in most of the hippo‘s current range in eastern and southern Africa. Carnivory is frequently associated with communal feeding involving multiple individuals or entire social groups of hippos.

The observed tendency of hippos to feed on carcasses, including those of other hippos, has important implications for the ecology and epidemiology of anthrax and other ungulate-associated zoonotic diseases in African landscapes. Scavenging and carnivory by hippos may explain why the spatiotemporal patterns and dynamics of anthrax mortality among hippos often differ markedly from those of other anthrax-susceptible herbivores within the same habitats, and why levels of hippo mortality from anthrax may be orders of magnitude higher than those of other anthrax-susceptible ungulate populations within the same localities.

Recognition of the role of carnivory as a key factor in modulating the dynamics of mass anthrax outbreaks in hippos can provide a basis for improved understanding and management of the effects of anthrax outbreaks in hippo and human populations.

Long-billed tailorbird research in Tanzania

Long-billed tailorbird

From BirdLife:

Survey success in Tanzania: 17 new territories found for Critically Endangered Long-billed Tailorbird

By Obaka Torto, Tue, 28/04/2015 – 14:13

Over the last year, intensive effort has been under way to survey and monitor the Critically Endangered Long-billed Tailorbird, in the East Usambara Mountains in Tanzania, to provide information on the species’ distribution and habitat requirements.

The Long-billed Tailorbird Artisornis moreaui occurs at only two locations: the Njesi plateau in northern Mozambique; and the East Usambara Mountains in northern Tanzania, which holds the majority of the population. These sites are separated by almost 1000 km and, despite much searching, the species has not been observed elsewhere. The bird’s known range is just a few hundred square kilometers, an area substantially smaller than cities such as Nairobi or Dar es Salaam.

The Long-billed Tailorbird has an unusual ecology. It is strongly forest dependent, not occurring outside of the forest, or in forest fragments smaller than 300 ha. Moreover, the bird is restricted to relatively open parts of the forest, such as canopy gaps, stream lines and forest edges. Unfortunately, its habitat requirements and distribution coincides with the places where humans are also active, such as along streams and areas bordering the forest. Thus, habitat disturbance by humans often threatens this tailorbird.

Smallholder, subsistence agriculture as well as commercial crops have replaced over 60% of the indigenous forest. What remains is often heavily disturbed, severely fragmented, and degraded by numerous invasive plants, introduced to the Tanzania site via the development of the Amani Botanical Garden. Nesting sites are often destroyed due to bush clearance for agriculture or thatching. The frequency of observation along forest edges is about 30% lower than in forest interior, and edge territories tend to be occupied for shorter time spans, suggesting that birds often abandon their nesting sites due to higher levels of disturbance.

The BirdLife International project office in Tanzania, in collaboration with the RSPB, has initiated a multi-year project to conserve the endemic and threatened biodiversity of the East Usambaras, with a focus on the Long-billed Tailorbird. Over the last year, a top priority has been to carry out intensive field work to draw a high resolution map of the distribution of this species. A field team of local ornithologists have been trained to recognise the species: a small, skulking and often unobtrusive bird, which is well known for being difficult to observe.

Armed with GPS, binoculars, laser rangefinders and aerial photos, the local team have been combing an area of more than 200 km², recording all the observations with a resolution of a few metres. The resulting maps show a cluster of points that correspond to an estimate of 80-120 territories, some of which have been continuously occupied for about eight years. The map shows sites that have the highest concentration of observations, as well as where human activities are more likely to cause the highest levels of disturbance. This intensive fieldwork has resulted in the discovery of 17 new territories of this Critically Endangered bird: this is a fantastic breakthrough which will enable project staff to target conservation efforts and to provide more information on the status of the species.

Story by Dr Norbert Cordeiro, Dr Luca Borghesio, Alice Ward-Francis (RSPB) and Festo Semanini (BirdLife International)

27 new animal species discovered in Tanzania

This video says about itself:

The 2008 edition of the Exo Terra expedition headed for the Eastern Arc Mountains and the Southern Highlands of the Republic of Tanzania in East Africa. The main goal of this expedition was to map the amphibian and reptile biodiversity of these regions and to get a better understanding of the species inhabiting these complex ecosystems.

From Wildlife Extra:

27 new species found in Tanzanian forests

A recent study revealed that 27 new vertebrate species have been found in the forests of Tanzania’s Eastern Arc Mountains. Of these, 23 were amphibians and reptiles. Of the total species that were identified in the region, the study found that there are 211 vertebrate species that are found only in the Eastern Arc Mountains, and 203 of them are found in Tanzania alone. These findings, says the study, re-enforce the importance of the Eastern Arc Mountains as one of the top locations on Earth for biological diversity and uniqueness.

“The Eastern Arc Mountains were already known for the unusually high density of endemic species,” explains Neil Burgess, a leading expert on Africa’s biodiversity and vice-chair of the TFCG, “however we lacked comprehensive data from at least six of the 13 mountain blocks.”

The study was conducted by an international team, and included researchers from the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) and MUSE-Science Museum in Italy, and was financed by Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).

The Eastern Arc Mountains are an isolated chain of geologically ancient mountains that extend from southern Kenya to south-central Tanzania. According to scientists, the forest has existed on the mountains for more than 30 million years and was once connected to forests in the Congo Basin and West Africa.