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 Nature Reserve established in 2016). 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 once or twice per month, by walking transects at a pace of about 1 km per hour by UEMC field staff. Data are collected according to a standardized protocol and entered into a computer and periodically analysed. Until 2020, >1300 transect repetitions were conducted in Mwanihana, and nearly 550 in Uzungwa Scarp. See under Resources for further details.


TEAM project (standardized biodiversity monitoring across the tropics)

In 2009, UEMC became the first site in Africa of a pantropical network for standardized data collection on tropical biodiversity, the Tropical Ecology, Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) network. After the phasing out of centralised funding in 2017, TEAM re-focussed to monitor only terrestrial vertebrates through camera trapping and has since become an initiative within a global platform (Wildlife Insights). TEAM’s original and core monitoring site is Mwanihana forest, however since 2016 camera trapping monitoring of mammals has been extended to Uzungwa Scarp Nature Reserve. Besides terrestrial vertebrates in these two forests (through camera trapping at 60 points), data on arboreal vegetation (6 vegetation plots) and climate (through an automatic weather station) have been recorded in Mwanihana according to standardized protocols.


Eastern Arc Biodiversity Programme (Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen)

With several projects in the Udzungwa Mountains, this programme run by the Natural History Museum of Denmark aims 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.

Work on arthropods includes 1) taxonomical work on millipedes, 2) taxonomical work on spiders as well as other arachnids, 3) Development of arthropod sampling protocols for assessment of arthropods diversity in Udzungwa (and elsewhere), 4) long term sampling of arthropods to documents seasonal distribution patterns, 5) studies of species turnover within the Udzungwa Mountains for selected taxa (mainly spiders).

Work on vertebrates includes 1) Snake evolution in Eastern Arc, 2) Lung-worm infections (Rhabdias spp.) in Pygmy Chameleons (Rhampholeon spp. and Rieppeleon spp.) from the Eastern Arc Montains, Tanzania, and 3) Deep time genomic signatures in pygmy chameleons (Rampholeon spp and Rieppeleon spp) to be used to test the theory that cycles of expansions and contractions of the ancient montane forests have acted like large-scale speciation 'pumps' by governing repeated isolation of mountain populations over evolutionary time scales.


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 the most remote ranger posts;
  • monitoring of Sanje mangabey: since early 2000s, the park collects socio-ecological data of the habituated group of mangabeys located in vicinity of the HQs and that can also be sighted by guided groups of tourists, as a unique experience offered to park visitors; Sanje mangabey have also been studied and monitored independently by other researchers and institutions, particularly in recent years by the Bristol Zoological Society.
  • elephants: in collaboration with Southern Tanzania Elephant Program (STEP) the park is monitoring crop losses to elephants around the park, trialling mitigation measures; and elephant use of Mwanihana forest.
  • invasive species control: this includes, for example, the 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 on the park. Until 2011, firewood collection by adjacent communities 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);
  • park ecologists and other professionals, aimed to standardize monitoring methods and protocols (see under Resources for further details);
  • graduate and under-graduate students from Tanzania and abroad on biodiversity research and monitoring (see below).

This latter component is facilitated by the hostel annexed to the main UEMC structure, where up to 24 students can currently be accommodated in the dormitory.


Summer Schools for higher education field training

From 2011 to 2016 MUSE – Science Museum with the University of Trento (Italy) and other partners have held five editions of a summer school entitled "Tropical Rainforest Biodiversity: Field and GIS Tools for Assessing, Monitoring and Mapping" which involved international and Tanzanian students as well as park ecologists to practically learn key monitoring tools and GIS applications.

Since 2017, the Natural History Museum of Denmark and other partners have carried out field courses in Ecology and Evolution for undergraduate students at University of Copenhagen, University of Dar es Salaam, Sokoine University of Agriculture and Mweke Wildlfe College in Tanzania. . Course content includes a general introduction to East African rainforest and savanna ecosystems, biodiversity surveys, monitoring and conservation issues.

It also introduce the students to morphological and biological characteristics of the major ‘key’ groups of animals and plants in the East African rainforest and savanna ecosystems and tropical fieldwork and field techniques are demonstrated and practiced.

Other institutions have independently organized training courses. In particular, since 2010 Pennsylvania State University has conducted an integrated research-education abroad programme focused on villages near Udzungwa Mountains National Park and based at UEMC ( As of 2020, the education abroad portion of the programme has enrolled nearly 100 students from 23 different majors at Penn State.


School Education and Community’s Awareness Raising Programme

UEMC pivoted school education programme in the area since 2007, in line with its mandate of promoting environmental awareness by local communities. This programme engaged primary and secondary schools in the villages near UEMC and along the eastern edge of the National Park. Since 2012, activities are primarily conducted by the Association Mazingira (‘mazingira’ means environment in Swahili) an Italian non-profit organization active in the area on a range of community conservation projects (see below). 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, and lessons at the park’s Visitor Information Centre. UEMC also hosts a large tree nursery used to promote tree planting in the area.


Uzungwa Scarp Protection Project

Launched in 2017, this project aims to protect the exceptional biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Uzungwa Scarp Nature Reserve by supporting the Tanzania Forest Services Agency and local communities to reduce illegal activities in the reserve. The Uzungwa Scarp Nature Forest Reserve, south of the National Park, is the second largest forest patch in the Udzungwa Mountains but has not been adequately protected in the past and has already lost much of its wildlife. Despite this the forest is still home to many globally threatened species, especially primates and amphibians. USPP will train local rangers to patrol more effectively using GPS and GIS technology in order to reduce poaching and logging. This project is a partnership between Associazione Mazingira, MUSE, Southern Tanzania Elephant Program and Wild Planet Trust with associated biodiversity monitoring by UEMC.



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

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