Area: 1650 km²
Mahale Mountains National Park is a nature reserve in the Western part of Tanzania. Mahale Mountains National Park covers an area of 1650 km². Although the park is less famous than Gombe Stream, it has the largest chimpanzee population in Tanzania. Research has been conducted since 1965 by scientists at Kyoto University.
The park is located on a peninsula on the eastern
shore of Lake Tanganyika, 125 km south of Kigoma. Among the
protected area of the park is the adjacent strip of the lake 1.6
km wide. In the park are the mountains of the Mahali, by whose name
it is named, their maximum height is 2462 meters.
The dry season in the park, during which the temperature averages 31 ° C, lasts from mid-May to mid-October. The rest of the time in the park is the rainy season, during which from 1500 to 2500 mm of rain falls. The park is characterized by strong differences in day and night temperatures.
The flora and fauna of the park are not fully described. To date, 82 species of mammals and 355 species of birds have been described, which is estimated to be 80% of the total. The animal world is represented by a unique composition of three ecozones: tropical rainforests are the home of monkeys (mainly chimpanzees and colobus), squirrels, porcupines, etc., lions, zebras and giraffes took refuge in the savannah, and antelopes are found in the miombo forests. Among the birds there are unique species that are endemic to this region and included in the red list of endangered species. Reptiles in the park are poorly studied, the main study began in 2006. At the moment, 26 species are described, of which two species are new to science, it is assumed that with a systematic study, the total number of species will increase by two to three times.
Three quarters of the park are miombo forests. On the mountain slopes at an altitude of 1300 to 2300 meters, they are similar to the similar forests of Kilimanjaro and Meru. At an altitude of 2300 meters, forests are replaced by alpine meadows. Currently, about 1200 plant species are known, but research in this area was carried out by Japanese scientists who were primarily interested in chimpanzees. In the ecoregion of the Albertin Rift Valley, in which the park is located, more than 5,000 plants grow, including more than 500 endemic plants.
In 1965, a research expedition of the University of Kyoto began on the territory of the future park to study primates. Twice, in 1967 and 1973, scientists asked for the creation of a hunting reserve. Established in 1979, the research center also called for environmental measures. As a result of this, the creation of a national park was announced in 1985, but the research project of Japanese scientists was closed by then. The research center temporarily did not work from 1984 to 1994. In 2003, German scientists from Frankfurt joined the work in the park with the financial participation of the European Commission.