ACTIVITIES
Ecological Monitoring and Education Activities

 


Primate Monitoring


UEMC conducts a primate monitoring programme in two of the largest and most important forests of the area, Mwanihana (north, within the National Park) and Uzungwa Scarp (south, a Forest Reserve, currently proposed Nature Reserve). Some of the data goes back to 1998 when the programme started (by primatologist Tom Struhsaker and other researchers). The programme represents the longer term data-set for the area. Four line-transect censuses, 4 km in length, are conducted in both forests twice per month, by walking transects at a pace of about 1 km per hour by UEMC technical personnel. Data are collected according to a standardized protocol and entered into a computer and periodically analyzed. Until 2012, nearly 600 transect repetitions were conducted in Mwanihana, and over 220 in Uzungwa Scarp.

 

TEAM Network Project (terrestrial vertebrates, arboreal vegetation and climate)


Since 2009, UEMC is part of the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM), a network of field stations in the tropics implementing standardized biological monitoring. The programme is managed by Conservation International, and aims to provide an early warning system on the status of tropical biodiversity that can effectively guide conservation actions.
TEAM focuses on Mwanihana forest as the core monitoring site. Data are collected on terrestrial vertebrates (through camera trapping at 60 points), arboreal vegetation (6 vegetation plots) and climate (through an automatic weather station) according to standardized protocols. All data collected are uploaded in near-real time to the TEAM portal and are publicly available.

 

Other Monitoring Activities


The Udzungwa Mountains National Park’s Ecology Department conducts a range of monitoring activities variously supported or facilitated by UEMC, in particular:

  • ranger-based monitoring of large mammals: conducted throughout the park from each of 5 remote ranger posts, by walking 6-km transects on monthly basis;
  • human-elephant conflicts: in collaboration with the Udzungwa Elephant Project (UEP) the park is monitoring the recently-escalated incidence of crop raiding by elephants outside the park and also testing mitigation measures such as chili-beehives fencing;
  • invasive species control: this mainly relates to the systematic removal of teak trees (Tectonia grandis) that were planted in the past along the park boundaries;
  • human disturbance monitoring: it is linked to law enforcement and aimed to assess the impact of various forms of anthropogenic pressure in the park. Until 2011, a special focus was on firewood collection by adjacent communities that was allowed on weekly basis.

 

Training Activities and Courses


Training activities based at UEMC are devoted to:

  • park rangers and field technicians, on monitoring methods (data collection, data recording, storage and management). It has been especially aimed to strengthen the large mammal ranger-based monitoring, and included the use of GPS and GIS;
  • park ecologists and others who are responsible to coordinate monitoring programmes, manage and analyze data-bases in protected areas in Tanzania, with emphasis on forest parks;
  • graduate and under-graduate students from Tanzania and abroad on biodiversity research and monitoring.

This latter component was boosted since 2010 with the availability of the hostel, as it triggered formal training schools.

 

Summer School on Tropical Rainforest Biodiversity


Since 2011, MUSE – Trento Science Museum and the University of Trento (Italy) have coordinated this summer schoo entitled "Tropical Rainforest Biodiversity: Field and GIS Tools for Assessing, Monitoring and Mapping" which involves international and Tanzanian students as well as park ecologists to practically learn key monitoring tools and GIS applications.
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School Education and Community’s Awareness Raising Programme


UEMC conducts a school education programme since 2007, in line with its mandate of promoting environmental awareness by adjacent communities. The programme works with several primary and secondary schools in the villages near UEMC. Activities include class-based seminars and lessons on the Park’s biodiversity and its importance, guided visits by the students to the National Park, seminars given by researchers at UEMC, poster competitions, special events such as celebration of World Environment Day and 'cinema nights', where wildlife documentaries are shown in the villages. The programme collaborates with the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) and with Associazione Mazingira, a Trento-based organization that since 2012 implements community conservation activities in the area. This broader programme includes support to environmental sustainable livelihoods and practices, such as the adoption of energy-efficient cooking technologies, agro-forestry, and various income-generating activities.

 

Facilitated Projects


Parks and People:
since 2010, professors Larry Gorenflo and Brian Orland, both from the Department of Landscape Architecture at Penn State University (USA), direct an integrated research-education abroad programme based that focuses on community design near protected areas to help local people meet resource demands without adversely affecting nearby reserves (http://stuckeman.psu.edu/larch/tanzania).

Eastern Arc Biodiversity Programme (Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen):
With several projects in the Udzungwa Mountains, we aim at documenting and understanding how processes like speciation and dispersal interact in the long-term accumulation of species and the high endemism levels of the Eastern Arc Mountains. We are mapping local radiations as found in poor dispersers like millipedes, and we investigate how diversification patterns may differ, e.g., between young taxonomic groups like birds and old mega-diverse groups such as insects and spiders. We want to elucidate and explain the evolutionary mechanisms causing the current patterns. To achieve this, we generate new data on the distribution of the ‘smaller majority’ (insects, spiders, millipedes, etc.) within the Udzungwa Mountains through large-scale fieldwork involving year-round sampling (Malaise and pitfall traps) as well as quantitative sampling using protocols that are developed by ourselves, coupled to next-generation sequence-based biodiversity assessment. We are also studying the relationship between distribution patterns and population size for larger vertebrates, currently leopards, where camera trapping and scat samples will elucidate mobility, genetic plasticity and gene flow for the leopard populations in the rainforest of Udzungwa and the surrounding savannah.

Southern Tanzania Elephant Project (STEP):
Formerly the Udzungwa Elephant Project (founded 2008), STEP works with a range of local and international partners to help protect critical elephant populations in southern Tanzania, through monitoring and research, protection efforts, community projects and advocacy. In the Udzungwa Mountains and the adjacent Kilombero Valley, STEP works with the Njokomoni Farmers Group to enhance human-elephant coexistence amongst local communities, and undertakes field assessments and advocacy for critical wildlife corridors (http://www.stzelephants.org/).

 

Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Centre | Udzungwa Mountains National Park | P.O. Box 99, Mang'ula - Tanzania (East-Africa)

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