EAST USAMBARA MOUNTAINS
|# Excl Vagrants:||411|
|# Near Endemics:||14|
ABOUT THE BIRDING
The Usambara Mountains are part of the "Eastern Arc" of ranges in eastern Tanzania that begin with the Taita Hills in Kenya and end with the Udzungwa Mountains in southern Tanzania. The Eastern Arc is often nicknamed "The Galapagos of Africa" due to the high species diversity. The mountain range has been climatically stable for some 2 billion years, leading to a high degree of endemism. Some 14 species of birds are near-threatened, vulnerable, or endangered. 14 species are near endemic or endemic.
The East Usambara Mountains are forested from sea level to the highlands. Many sections are now protected from the heavy pressure of agricultural settlements. Much of the sub-montane forest at an elevation of 800-1400 m is preserved in the Amani Nature Reserve. Lower elevations in the reserve are drier forest, while higher elevations are wetter forest up on the plateau. Some of the specialties in the eastern range are the endangered Sokoke Scops-Owl, the endemic Usambara Eagle-Owl, the critically endangered Long-billed Tailorbird, the endangered Usambara Hyliota, and the endangered Amani Sunbird.
The West Usambara Mountains rise from a plateau at 400-800m and have been heavily deforested due to intense agricultural activity. Most forest is in small patches, though 2 larger tracts still remain.The Ambangulu Tea Estate is about the only remaining tract of lower elevation forest. Some of the specialty birds of the western range are the near-endemic African Tailorbird, Hildebrandt's Starling, and Usambara Weaver.
LOCATION OF SITE
The Usambara Mountains are a range located in northeast Tanzania not far from the coast. The western range is accessed from Lushoto, while the eastern range is accessed from Amani. Lushoto is about 170 km east of Arusha, mostly via back roads as it is situated on a plateau north of the West Usambara Mountains. Amani is located in northeast Tanzania and is closer to Dar es Salaam than Arusha. It takes 6-7 hours driving time from Dar es Salaam.