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Location Tanzania, Mbeya
Central coordinates 34o 15.00' East  8o 30.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i
Area 300,000 ha
Altitude 1,000 - 1,060m
Year of IBA assessment 2001





Site description This seasonally inundated flood-plain lies to the north of the Chimala Escarpment along the northern edge of the Kipengire mountains. To the west the Mbeya mountains extend north beyond Chunya and to the north and east lie gently rising hills cloaked in miombo woodland. Several major rivers flow from these highland areas to form the Ruaha river that meanders north-eastwards through the flood-plain before becoming the southern border of Ruaha National Park (TZ007). The natural vegetation of the Usangu varies from small areas of permanent swamp and waterside vegetation in numerous oxbow lakes, through open grassland (much of this is now permanent bare ground due to overgrazing) and thickets of Acacia seyal and Acacia kirkii thorn-bush. On slightly higher ground Commiphora and Combretum woodlands dominate (depending on soil characteristics) and these mix with miombo woodland towards the hills. In the more open, rocky areas baobabs are characteristic.The Great North Road runs along the base of the Chimala Escarpment and from this access point two commercial rice-schemes penetrate into the Usangu. These rice-schemes hold permanent water and are an important habitat for many birds, especially during the dry season (June–October). A new rice-scheme at Madibira will also become important to wetland birds, especially when permanent vegetation develops.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Trachyphonus darnaudii resident  2000  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Eastern Chanting-goshawk Melierax poliopterus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Buff-crested Bustard Lophotis gindiana resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus non-breeding  1995  12 individuals  A1  Vulnerable 
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola non-breeding  1995  1,500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni winter  150 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Black-faced Sandgrouse Pterocles decoratus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-collared Lovebird Agapornis personatus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-bellied Go-away-bird Criniferoides leucogaster resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Coppery-tailed Coucal Centropus cupreicaudus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Racquet-tailed Roller Coracias spatulatus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Abyssinian Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus minor resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Von der Decken's Hornbill Tockus deckeni resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Long-tailed Fiscal Lanius cabanisi resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Tabora Cisticola Cisticola angusticauda resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey Wren-warbler Camaroptera simplex resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Miombo Wren-warbler Camaroptera undosa resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Banded Warbler Sylvia boehmi resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Ashy Starling Cosmopsarus unicolor 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 
African Grey Flycatcher Bradornis microrhynchus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kenya Violet-backed Sunbird Anthreptes orientalis resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Miombo Double-collared Sunbird Nectarinia manoensis resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Shelley's Sunbird Nectarinia shelleyi resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Swahili Sparrow Passer suahelicus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-headed Buffalo-weaver Dinemellia dinemelli resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Blue-capped Cordonbleu Uraeginthus cyanocephalus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Purple Grenadier Uraeginthus ianthinogaster resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-rumped Waxbill Estrilda charmosyna resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey-headed Silverbill Lonchura griseicapilla resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Steel-blue Whydah Vidua hypocherina resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Broad-tailed Paradise-whydah Vidua obtusa resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Usangu Game Reserve 409,740 protected area contained by site 0  

Local conservation groups The local conservation group below is working to support conservation at this IBA.

Name Year formed
Usangu Site Support Group 1999

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   37%
Shrubland   10%
Grassland   49%
Forest   2%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
hunting -
nature conservation and research -

Other biodiversity Large mammals listed for the site include Loxodonta africana (EN) and Panthera leo (VU). Lycaon pictus (EN) are likely to occur, but Diceros bicornis (CR) were extirpated during the late 1970s. There is a large selection of antelope including Hippotragus equinus (LR/cd) and H. niger (LR/cd).

References Baker (1997), Elliott (1983), Ministry of Water (2000), Moirana and Nahonyo (1996), Procter (1968), Wright (1968).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Usangu flats. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/09/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife