Department of Zoology and Wildlife Conservation

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    Common and Rare Birds of Southern Part of Saadani National Park.
    (2015) John, J.
    Saadani National Park (SANAPA), located along the eastern coastline of Tanzania, is the closest wildlife sanctuary from the business capital, Dar es Salaam. Although the populations of game animals do not attract many tourists at the moment, it has a potential of becoming a bird watching paradise. Nonetheless, very little ornithological observations have been documented. This study, based mainly on the species encounter rates, provides indices for ‘common’ and ‘rare’ bird species in the southern part of SANAPA. Between June and July (touristic peak season for eastern Africa parks) 2013, timed species counts (TSCs), mist netting, total counts and opportunistic observations were used to study the avian diversity in woodland-bushed grassland, riverine forests, and mangrove-saltpans habitat. In total, 97 species were recorded from 26 TSCs, among these 76 were sighted in woodland-bushed grassland and 47 from mangrove-saltpans habitat. About 50% of all recorded birds were common (with >1.0 mean score, MS) at mangrove-saltpans while 4 species were very rare (0.8<, MS) at this site. Moreover, in the woodland-bushed grassland, 19 species were common and three were recorded only once. Twenty two species were added from opportunistic observations and mistnetting. A total count at salt works on 3rd and 18th July estimated an average of 400 greater and 500 lesser flamingos. Black-winged stilts were also abundant (350 birds) at the saltpans. Observations in this study amounts to over 30% of total bird species within SANAPA. The study provides information on site-specific species commonness (likelihood of encounter) which is crucial for avi-tourism promotion and park management.
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    Avian Flight Heights across Power lines in Dar es Salaam.
    (Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), 2015) John, J.R.
    In recent years, Africa has experienced an increase in power generation projects. However, such development projects come with negative side effects on the environment. For example, electrocution and collision with power lines have become among the causes of mortality to populations of large terrestrial birds. Many species of birds are especially vulnerable to collision with high voltage transmission lines because of the height of these structures with respect to birds’ flight altitudes. Despite the increased power lines networks, there have been very little studies on the flight heights of birds in relation to power lines. From December to February 2015, we studied flight heights of local birds as they commuted across low (LVP, 33KV) and high (HVP, 132KV) voltage power lines in Dar es Salaam. In additional to avian flight heights, we also studied their behaviours as they approached the power lines. The two power lines had different heights from the ground (13 m versus 24 m) but we targeted birds that passed between 13 5 m and 24 5 m recording whether a bird passed below, between or above electric cables. Using the abundance of birds that crossed the power lines, we found no preferred flight heights at LVP and HVP although all egrets passed above the cables. Changing of flight heights as birds approached power lines was recorded only for egrets whereas collision was observed for Indian House Crow and House Sparrow. We recommend that before any installation or erection of power lines, investigation on birds’ routes to and from roosts and foraging sites must be conducted first. Use of underground connections and wire-marking or bird flight diverters at sensitive locations can help to reduce the risk of collision for both local and migratory flying animals especially birds.
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    Shoebill population estimates in Tanzania from 2,500 in 1990 to <200 birds in 2011: what went wrong?
    (Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), 2013) John, J.R.
    This paper is about a threatened bird species endemic to Africa. It is a wetland dependent large waterbird. Although it is found in many countries, its population in Tanzania has declined sharply in recent years. This article is a review of what happened for such unexpected decline.
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    Birds of Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area
    (Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, 2016) John, J.R.
    This is a book review article on the book titled "Birds of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area".
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    Use of Avifauna to Complement Marketing Strategies for Less Visited Protected Areas in Tanzania: A Case of Saadani National Park.
    (Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Management, 2017) John, J.; Hagwet, M.
    Avitourism is a growing industry throughout the world although it has not been taped by many African countries despite the fact that the continent’s protected areas offer a great deal for this specialised wildlife tourism. This is because traditional marketing strategies for wildlife tourism have capitalized on the game animals alone particularly the big five. Such strategies cannot be sustained for those areas where game animals are rare. In this study, we present data on avifauna of the Saadani, a less visited park, categorising species into common and rare based on the encounter rate from the field experiment conducted in summer of 2013, designed to conform to the actual birding trip. With over 300 bird species including the popular lesser and greater flamingos, we conclude that the park is a “Birders’ Paradise”. Thus, we recommend tourism marketing strategies to incorporate avitourism combined with game viewing, swimming, kayaking, boating and sport fishing.
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    A comparative Study of Species Diversity of Migrant Birds between Protected and Unprotected areas of the Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands, Nigeria
    (Tanzania Journal of Sciences, 2017) Ringim, A.S.; Magige, F.J.; John, J.R.
    Among the most complex and fascinating behaviour in birds is their long, non-stop migration. Despite Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands (Ramsar site) being an important wintering ground for migratory birds, little is known about the diversity while density is completely lacking. This study assessed the status of migratory birds in the wetland’s Protected Areas (PAs) and Unprotected Areas (UPAs). A total of 99 census points spaced 400 m apart with radius of 100 m were surveyed from 14 wetlands (48 point count stations in the PAs and 51 in the UPAs). A total of 54 migrant bird species belonging to 13 orders and 25 families were recorded. Of the 54 species, 20 were Intra-African migrants and 34 Palearctic winters including two globally threatened species; the European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur and Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus. Results showed that Protected wetlands had significantly higher species diversity (H' = 1.39) than Unprotected ones (H' = 1.28) (p = 0.0064), however, there was no significant difference in the density of birds between the two areas (p = 0.9246). The two areas were similar in species composition by 81%. Both Palearctic and Intra-Africa migrant birds were recorded in the wetland, thus revealing the importance of the Hadejia-Nguru as wintering sites for migratory birds. The Nigerian government has obligation to protect these migratory birds because it is a signatory to several international treaties aimed at conserving these birds.
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    Kimboza Forest Reserve, Tanzania: an important cold season refugium for altitudinal migrating birds
    (2016) Werema Chacha, Howell Kim M. and Ndangalasi Henry J.
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    Diversity and Density of Avifauna in Areas with Different Protection Status: A Case Study in Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands, North-eastern Nigeria.
    (International Journal of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2018) Ringim, A.S.; Magige, F.J.; John, J.R.
    The paper is about the diversity and density of waterbirds in Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands, in areas with different protection status. See the abstract on the attached full article.
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    Checklist of Tanzanian Species, Version 1
    (African Journal of Ecology, 2015) John, J.R.
    This is a review article for the book titled "Checklist of Tanzanian Species, Version 1". The article provides the strong points in this book and suggestions for improving future version of the book. It also narrates the format and flow of the book.
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    Responses of large wetland birds to human disturbances: results from experimental bird approaches in areas with different protection status in western Tanzania
    (Journal of Biodiversity and Environmental Science, 2015) John, J.R.
    Flight distances are quite often used to establish wildlife responses to humans. It is generally hypothesised that animals in protected areas are more sensitive to approaching humans than in areas where animals may coexist with humans at high densities. But this hypothesis may not hold true if animals are persecuted. A field experiment was designed on three large wetland birds, two ‘Vulnerable’ and CITES Appendix II; Shoebill Balaeniceps rex and Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus and one ‘Least Concern’ Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis, in areas with different protection status to test the effect of protection gradient on flight distances. Because Shoebill and Wattled Crane are restricted in western Tanzania and all the three species in this study are trapped it was also expected they should respond to the hunting pressure. The study found that birds were more wary in heavily protected area with longer flight initiation distance (83.75 ± 18.84 m) than in unprotected (57.24 ± 23.53 m), conforming to the first hypothesis. However, flight distances for Saddle-billed Stork did not differ significantly among the sites. In addition, Shoebill formed tight flocks in heavily protected area when flushed suggesting that birds were responding to persecution familiarity. Allegations of illegal bird trapping in protected areas were also rampant and insufficient on-site law enforcement was noted. Given the small population of the Wattled Crane and Shoebill in Tanzania (< 500 individuals for each species), the study recommends suspension of trapping and trade of the two species, and improving on-site law enforcement.
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    Kihansi spray wetlands under mitigation measures and its implication to the biodiversity of the resultant ecosystems.
    (Journal of Biodiversity and Environmental Science, 2014) Mutagwaba, S.J.; John, J.R.
    Originally, the Kihansi River Falls produced sprays that created microhabitat with high humidity and low temperatures. These microhabitats were the only habitats for Kihansi Spray Toad (KST) Nectophyrinoides asperginis, while adjacent forest supported other endemic species. However, in 1999 the Kihansi Hydropower Project diverted over 90% of the water from Kihansi River to the reservoir resulting into population crash of some wetland dependent species due to dryness. In 2001, artificial sprinklers were installed in three spray wetlands within the Kihansi Gorge (KG) to mitigate effects especially for KST, which unfortunately were declared extinct in the wild in 2009. Wetlands and forest microclimate under these mitigation measures were examined from 2010 to 2012 using data loggers set and left in the study sites to record temperature and humidity. Data were then downloaded and analysed. Temperature and relative humidity (RH) showed variation according to location and time but remained within tolerable limits for KST survival (16-21°C;60-100%) with varying mean differences at -0.860°C (2010), -0.585°C (2011), and 0.274°C (2012) and RH (±9.576%) between 2010 and 2012. Temperatures were significantly higher in adjacent forest than in wetlands and vice versa for RH suggesting that species outside the artificially maintained wetlands currently experience considerable dryness. This indicates that, the collapse or terminating artificial sprinklers may cause immediate negative effects to the ecosystem, and especially the endemic species. Thus, a long-term monitoring program and expansion of the artificial sprinklers are recommended for the healthier KG ecosystem.
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    Seasonal use of remnant forest fragments by understorey forest birds in the Uluguru Mountains, Tanzania: a conservation priorit
    (2016) Werema Chacha, Howell Kim M. and Ndangalasi Henry J.
    Forest fragmentation can lead to extinctions of some species at local levels and is eroding bird diversity at an increasing rate. While there is information on the distribution of forest bird species in most of the Eastern Arc Mountain forests, some forests, particularly the smaller fragments, have not been adequately surveyed. Using mist netting we surveyed avifauna in some of the poorly known forests (12.5–25 ha) located 320–1 300 m above sea level in the Uluguru Mountains in order to address their conservation importance. Proportions of seasonal altitudinal migrants were significantly higher in these lower-altitude forests during the cold season than the hot season. The results suggest that these forests support bird species of conservation concern, most of which are forest dependent and some of which make seasonal movements between high-altitude montane forests and lowland/ foothill forests. These forests are important cold-season habitat of altitudinal migrants and further fragmentation should be halted as a matter of regional and global priority.
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    Seasonal variation in understory bird species diversity and abundance in Uluguru Nature Reserve, Tanzania
    (2016) Werema Chacha
    The Uluguru Mountains form a component block of the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania and Kenya and are known for a high degree of endemic vertebrate and plant taxa. Among the Eastern Arc Mountains, the Uluguru Mountains rank second in the number of endemic species. Although the forests in these mountains have received considerable ornithological attention, studies on how forest bird communities in the available low elevation forests are affected by seasons remain patchy and sporadic. Such studies are important because in the Uluguru Mountains, forest destruction in the lower slopes has been severe to an extent that there is very little substantial forest survives below 900 m above sea level. Using mist netting, seasonal variation in understorey bird communities in the remaining low elevation forests in the Uluguru Nature Reserve was assessed between 2005 and 2011. Species diversity and relative abundance of the birds were higher during the cold season in comparison with the hot season possibly due to seasonal elevational movements of some species. Elevational migrants made a large proportion of the avifauna in the study area. The results suggest that low altitude forests are important cold season refugia of elevational migrants and these forests need continual protection
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    Seasonal elevational movements of Eastern Olive Sunbird Cyanomitra olivacea in the Uluguru Mountains, Tanzania
    (2016) Werema Chacha
    Little is known about the seasonal elevational movements for most tropical avifauna species. Seasonal elevational movements of the Eastern Olive Sunbird Cyanomitra olivacea were studied along an elevational gradient from 600 to 1 500 m above sea level in the Uluguru Mountains, Tanzania, between May 2005 and February 2006. The recapture of ringed individuals along an elevational gradient across seasons provided evidence for the seasonal elevational movement of the Eastern Olive Sunbird in the Uluguru Mountains and the first documented evidence for this species in the Eastern Arc Mountains as a whole. Due to forest fragmentation and lack of corridors connecting high- and low-altitude forests in the Uluguru Mountains, the results have implications for conservation of the forest along the entire elevational gradient as well as for other forest bird species that have been documented to make seasonal elevational movements in the Uluguru Mountains and the entire Eastern Arc Mountains.
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    Social selection parapatry in Afrotropical sunbirds
    (2016) McEntee Jay P., Pe˜nalba Joshua V. Werema Chacha, Mulungu Elia, Mbilinyi Maneno, Moyer David, Hansen Louis Hansen, Fjelds˚ a Jon, Bowie Rauri C. K.
    The extent of range overlap of incipient and recent species depends on the type and magnitude of phenotypic divergence that separates them, and the consequences of phenotypic divergence on their interactions. Signal divergence by social selection likely initiates many speciation events, but may yield niche-conserved lineages predisposed to limit each others’ ranges via ecological competition. Here, we examine this neglected aspect of social selection speciation theory in relation to the discovery of a nonecotonal species border between sunbirds. We find that Nectarinia moreaui and Nectarinia fuelleborni meet in a 6 km wide contact zone, as estimated by molecular cline analysis. These species exploit similar bioclimatic niches, but sing highly divergent learned songs, consistent with divergence by social selection. Cline analyses suggest that within-species stabilizing social selection on song-learning predispositions maintains species differences in song despite both hybridization and cultural transmission. We conclude that ecological competition between moreaui and fuelleborni contributes to the stabilization of the species border, but that ecological competition acts in conjunction with reproductive interference. The evolutionary maintenance of learned song differences in a hybrid zone recommend this study system for future studies on the mechanisms of learned song divergence and its role in speciation.
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    Seasonal variation in diversity and abundance of understorey birds in Bunduki Forest Reserve, Tanzania: evaluating the conservation value of a plantation forest, Ostrich, 87:1, 89-93, DOI: 10.2989/00306525.2015.1110842
    (2016) Werema Chacha, Howell Kim M.
    Plantation forests generally support lower bird diversity than natural forests. However, in some instances the plantations have been found to provide suitable habitat for a number of bird species. In the Eastern Arc Mountains, there is limited knowledge how understorey birds, some of which make seasonal altitudinal movements, use plantations. Using mist netting we assessed seasonal use of the plantation forest by the understorey bird community in Bunduki Forest Reserve in the Uluguru Mountains. Species diversity and capture rates were significantly higher during the cold season than during the hot season possibly due to seasonal altitudinal migration by some species. The use of plantations by those species that make seasonal altitudinal movements shows that plantation forests can enhance indigenous biodiversity by enabling connectivity between two or more natural forest patches. Our findings suggest that in a situation where there is no natural forest, an exotic plantation with suitable indigenous understorey cover can help in protection of birds, including endemic and near-endemic species.
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    The role of kopjes in bird species’ conservation within an agricultural matrix west of the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem, Tanzania
    (2017) Werema Chacha, Nahonyo Cuthbert L, Kibaja Mohamed
    This study was conducted in unprotected agricultural land located just west of the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem to assess 1) avian community composition in four different habitat types, and 2) the importance of kopjes found in agricultural areas in conservation of birds. All species recorded during this study have been recorded in the nearby Serengeti Ecosystem suggesting that the study area is a subset of this ecosystem. The density of bird species and individuals were higher in the kopjes than in the surrounding human-impacted habitats. Thus the kopjes in farmland increase regional avifaunal diversity, and this is likely due to the provision of diverse habitats. The kopjes as well as the surrounding habitats are important for bird species conservation even though they are found in agricultural areas.
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    Birds of Golden Pride Project area, Nzega District, central Tanzania: an evaluation of recolonization of rehabilitated areas
    (Nature Kenya, 2016-07) Werema Chacha, Howell Kim M. , Msuya Charles A., Sinclair Jackie,, Macha Anael
    In Tanzania, the success of habitat restoration in mining areas to create suitable environmental conditions for wildlife is poorly understood. Between March 2010 and December 2014 bird species were recorded at the Golden Pride Project area, a gold mine in Nzega District, central Tanzania. The aims of this study were to document bird communities in the mine area, and to assess the extent to which rehabilitated areas have been recolonised. Mist netting, point counts, timed species counts and opportunistic observations were used to document 181 species of birds at the mine area. These included two species endemic to Tanzania, the Tanzanian Red-billed Hornbill Tockus ruahae (treated here as a species separate from T. erythrorhynchus, see Kemp & Delport 2002, Sinclair & Ryan 2010) and Ashy Starling Cosmopsarus unicolor. Rehabilitated areas had about half the number of species found in the unmined areas. Bird use of areas under rehabilitation suggests that habitat restoration can be used to create corridors linking fragmented landscapes. Results suggest that as the vegetation of the rehabilitated areas becomes more structurally complex, the number of bird species found there will be similar to those in unmined areas. This study provides a baseline for future monitoring, leading to a better understanding of the process of avian colonisation of rehabilitated areas. Furthermore, results imply that in mining areas it is useful to have an unmined area where vegetation is naturally allowed to regenerate, free of human activity. These unmined areas can later act as source habitats from which birds can disperse into rehabilitation areas once the vegetation structure is sufficiently complex