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Location Tanzania, Tanga
Central coordinates 38o 17.04' East  4o 43.14' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 38,169 ha
Altitude 800 - 2,290m
Year of IBA assessment 2001





Site description The West Usambaras are a steep-sided block, oriented from south-east to north-west and rising from the edge of the coastal lowlands and central plateau at around 400–800 m. They have one main internal drainage system via the Umba river which flows eastwards from the north-eastern edge of the mountains. To the north lies Mkomazi Game Reserve (TZ016), to the north-west the Pare mountains, to the south-east the East Usambara (TZ070) and to the south the Pangani river valley which separates the mountains from the dry Acacia–Commiphora scrub of the Masai steppe.The western scarp is characterized by impressive sheer cliffs, often with remnant forest along the rim and extending down the many stream-eroded valleys into drier woodland at the base of the hills. The plateau has been extensively cultivated, especially around Lushoto, the district capital. Cultivation has increased significantly during the last few decades, especially noticeable in marginal land and along river valleys. The remaining forest is fragmented into many small blocks with only two large tracts remaining, both of which are under considerable pressure.The Forest Division list 27 Forest Reserves for Lushoto District. However, many of these are very small and others are production forests. Those that are significant, or are thought to be so, are Shagayu (6,223 ha protected), Shume Magamba (11,567 ha protected), Balangai West (1,074 ha), Kisimagonja (1,440 ha, badly degraded), Mjusu (3,670 ha, badly degraded), Ndelemai (3,554 ha), Bombo West (3,565 ha), Bumba Mavumbi (1,056 ha), Lutindi (2,176 ha), Mafi Hill (2,671 ha) and Ndolwa (1,173 ha). Only for Shagayu, Shume Magamba and Mafi is there anything like a complete bird inventory.In addition, there are two privately-owned forests of major ornithological importance, and are included in the IBA: Ambangulu Tea Estate, which is virtually all that remains of the lower altitude forest; and Mazumbai, which is upper montane forest.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The forests of the West Usambara have been far less studied for birds than those on the East Usambara mountains, especially recently. Apus barbatus breed in rock overhangs within Shume-Magambo Forest Reserve and the near-endemic Caprimulgus poliocephalus guttifer is locally common in forest-edge habitat. The rare Cinnyricinclus sharpii is often seen in the canopy at Magambo.

Non-bird biodiversity: In common with other Eastern Arc forests, the West Usambaras have a diverse fauna and flora, including a number of the Eastern Arc endemics. However, most large mammals have been extirpated. Even forest primates seem much less common than in nearby forests, suggesting a long history of over-exploitation.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Moustached Green Tinkerbird Pogoniulus leucomystax resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Eastern Green Tinkerbird Pogoniulus simplex resident  2000  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Brown-breasted Barbet Pogonornis melanopterus resident  2000  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Taita Falcon Falco fasciinucha resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Buteo oreophilus resident  2000  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Southern Banded Snake-eagle Circaetus fasciolatus resident  2000  present  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Dusky Turtle-dove Streptopelia lugens resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Fischer's Turaco Tauraco fischeri resident  2000  present  A1, A2, A2, A3  Near Threatened 
Hartlaub's Turaco Tauraco hartlaubi resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bubo vosseleri resident  2000  present  A1, A2, A3  Not Recognised 
Caprimulgus poliocephalus resident  2000  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Scarce Swift Schoutedenapus myoptilus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Trogon Apaloderma vittatum resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater Merops oreobates resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Mombasa Woodpecker Campethera mombassica resident  2000  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Chestnut-fronted Helmet-shrike Prionops scopifrons resident  2000  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Four-coloured Bush-shrike Telophorus quadricolor resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Fuelleborn's Boubou Laniarius fuelleborni resident  2000  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Grey Cuckooshrike Coracina caesia resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-tailed Crested-flycatcher Elminia albonotata resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Eastern Mountain Greenbul Andropadus nigriceps resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Shelley's Greenbul Andropadus masukuensis resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Stripe-cheeked Greenbul Andropadus milanjensis resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Tiny Greenbul Phyllastrephus debilis resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
African Tailorbird Artisornis metopias resident  2000  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Bracken Warbler Bradypterus cinnamomeus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kretschmer's Longbill Macrosphenus kretschmeri resident  2000  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-throated Woodland-warbler Phylloscopus ruficapilla resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
African Hill Babbler Pseudoalcippe abyssinica resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-bellied Glossy-starling Lamprotornis corruscus resident  2000  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Sharpe's Starling Cinnyricinclus sharpii resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Waller's Starling Onychognathus walleri resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kenrick's Starling Poeoptera kenricki resident  2000  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
White-chested Alethe Alethe fuelleborni resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Spot-throat Modulatrix stictigula resident  2000  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
White-starred Robin Pogonocichla stellata resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sharpe's Akalat Sheppardia sharpei resident  2000  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Usambara Akalat Sheppardia montana resident  2000  present  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
Eastern Double-collared Sunbird Nectarinia mediocris resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Uluguru Violet-backed Sunbird Anthreptes neglectus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Banded Sunbird Anthreptes rubritorques resident  2000  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Usambara Weaver Ploceus nicolli resident  2000  present  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
Zanzibar Bishop Euplectes nigroventris resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-faced Crimson-wing Cryptospiza reichenovii resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Swee Waxbill Estrilda melanotis resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey-faced Citril Serinus hypostictus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Serinus striolatus resident  2000  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Oriole Finch Linurgus olivaceus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2011 high not assessed high
unset
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming past (and unlikely to return) and no longer limiting small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Agricultural expansion and intensification annual & perennial non-timber crops - shifting agriculture past (and unlikely to return) and no longer limiting small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Agricultural expansion and intensification annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities likely in short term (within 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  The conservation measures needed for the site are being comprehensively and effectively implemented  high 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Balangai West Forest Reserve 107,459 protected area contained by site 1,075  
Kisima Gonja Forest Reserve 158,208 protected area contained by site 1,582  
Lutinde Forest Reserve 0 protected area contained by site 2,176  
Mafi Hill Forest Reserve 444,475 protected area contained by site 4,445  
Mkussu Forest Reserve 429,200 protected area contained by site 4,292  
Ndelemai Forest Reserve 151,412 protected area contained by site 1,514  
Shagayu Forest Reserve 804,754 protected area contained by site 8,048  
Shume Magamba Nature Reserve 1,326,152 protected area contained by site 13,262  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland   3%
Grassland   1%
Forest   94%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
forestry -
water management -

Further web sources of information 

Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This site has been identified as an AZE due to it containing a Critically Endangered or Endangered species with a limited range.

References Burgess and Clarke (2000), Ezaza (1986), Iversen (1991), Lovett and Wasser (1993), Rodgers and Homewood (1982b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: West Usambara Mountains. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/12/2014

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