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Location Tanzania, Morogoro
Central coordinates 36o 20.00' East  8o 30.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4i
Area 400,000 ha
Altitude 250 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description The Kilombero river flows north-east through a 35-km-wide flood-plain between the Udzungwa mountains (TZ011, TZ066) and the Mahenge massif. The other major rivers are the Ruhudji and Ruaha, draining the Njombe Highlands to the south-west and the Kihansi and Ruipa, which fall from the Udzungwa mountains. The site is delimited by the TAZARA railway to the west and the Msenga–Malinyi road to the east. During the dry season (June–November) the main river is less than 100 m wide at Ifakara, the principal town in the valley. During the rains (December–May) virtually the whole flood-plain can be inundated, the river reaching some 6 km wide at Ifakara. There is a permanent swamp at Kibasira, south of the village of Mofu, and an unnamed swamp in the far south-west, on the Kihansi river, with a small stretch of gallery forest. The northern end of the valley is now largely given over to the cultivation of sugar-cane, including a commercial estate either side of the Great Ruaha river. Magombero Forest Reserve is an important forest that once would have been contiguous with the escarpment forest on the Udzungwa mountains. There is also a relatively large area of forest on the eastern bank of the Kilembero river, to the north of Kivukoni ferry, which is contiguous with forest in the Selous.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 3 for key species. Ploceus burnieri, first found in 1986, is known to occur from Kivukoni Ferry south along the river to Lake Mofu, while two new taxa of cisticoline warbler remain undescribed. Ardeola idae is described as quite common in the valley between June and November and, together with the adjacent Selous Game Reserve (TZ018), this is likely to be an important area for this species. A single record of Dendropicos stierlingi may indicate a larger population in the miombo woodland. The river is likely to be an important breeding location for Rynchops flavirostris, although no counts have been conducted during the breeding season. Numbers of Anastomus lamelligerus are thought likely to exceed the 1% threshold. There are extensive areas of riverine forest along the rivers that flow off the escarpments and these are known to hold populations of Alcedo emitorquata, Podica senegalensis and Anas sparsa. Gorsachius leuconotus and Scotopelia peli are found among the taller riverside trees. From preliminary ringing data, the valley may hold significant numbers of Palearctic warblers, particularly Acrocephalus schoenobaenus. The valley also holds the only lowland population in East Africa of Centropus cupreicaudus. Other species found along the valley in reasonable numbers include Vanellus senegallus and Pseudhirundo griseopyga. Magombero Forest Reserve is a vital cold-season wintering area for populations of montane birds and has avifaunal links with the threatened coastal forests. The valley holds very high densities of raptors. Seven species of the East African Coast biome have been recorded (see Table 3).

Non-bird biodiversity: The valley contains up to 75% of the remaining Kobus vardoni (LR/cd) population. The area is also an important dry-season refuge for approximately 5,000 Loxodonta africana (EN), and large herds of Syncerus caffer (LR/cd). There are nine known endemic plant species and one endemic amphibian, the toad Bufo reesi.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Madagascar Pond-heron Ardeola idae winter  2000  present  A1  Endangered 
Dickinson's Kestrel Falco dickinsoni resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Southern Banded Snake-eagle Circaetus fasciolatus resident  2000  present  A1  Near Threatened 
White-headed Lapwing Vanellus albiceps winter  1995  476 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris winter  376 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Coppery-tailed Coucal Centropus cupreicaudus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Racquet-tailed Roller Coracias spatulatus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Böhm's Bee-eater Merops boehmi resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pale-billed Hornbill Lophoceros pallidirostris resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Stierling's Woodpecker Dendropicos stierlingi resident  2000  unknown  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Rufous-bellied Tit Parus rufiventris resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyanus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-headed Black-chat Myrmecocichla arnoti resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Miombo Rock-thrush Monticola angolensis resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Shelley's Sunbird Nectarinia shelleyi resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kilombero Weaver Ploceus burnieri resident  2000  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Broad-tailed Paradise-whydah Vidua obtusa resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2001 high not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kilombero Valley Floodplain Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 79,673,500 protected area contains site 400,000  
Selous Game Reserve 440,000,000 protected area is adjacent to site 0  
Selous Game Reserve World Heritage Site 4,480,000 protected area is adjacent to site 0  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   26%
Shrubland   42%
Grassland   1%
Forest   29%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
forestry -
other -
Notes: Cutting wood for fuel.

References Baker (1997), Baker and Baker (1990), Burgess and Clarke (2000), Decker (1994), East (1998), IIED (1992), Jenkins et al. (in press), Kirenga (1992), Rees (1964), Rodgers (1984), Rainey et al. (2001), Rodgers, Homewood and Hall (1979), Siege and Stronach (1995).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Kilombero Valley. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

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