Selous - Niassa Wildlife Protection Corridor

Natural Heritage

The Selous - Niassa Miombo woodland ecosystem as a whole is the largest trans-boundary natural dry forest ecosystem in Africa covering 150,000 km2 and extends across southern Tanzania into neighbouring Mozambique. The wide variety of wildlife habitats - forests, wooded grasslands, open savannahs, granite inselbergs, seasonal and permanent wetlands and rivers - account for globally significant biodiversity. The core conservation areas for its continued existence are: 

  • the Selous Game Reserve (47.000 km2) of Tanzania, UNESCO World Heritage-Site
  • the Niassa Game Reserve (42.400 km2) of Mozambique

The Selous – Niassa Wildlife Corridor provides a significant biological link between the two reserves and consequently for the Miombo woodland eco-system, thus conserving one of the largest elephant ranges in the world containing also approximately 13% of the world’s remaining wild dog population.

In total the corridor has a size of approximately 17.030 km2. Starting at the most southern border of Selous Game Reserve the corridor extends over 160 km south until reaching Ruvuma River, the border of the Niassa Reserve in Mozambique, where it has a width of 176 km following the river’s course. Long-term conservation management of the Selous and two communal Associations Mbarang’andu and Nalika adjacent to the Selous resulted into larger concentrations of wildlife in the northern part of the corridor. According to aerial surveys undertaken every three years the wildlife populations are relatively stable. In the southern part the wildlife populations are recovering since the communities are actively involved in their management. However, wildlife is still timid and it will need a few more years of protection to reach sizable populations in the south. The main species are: Elephant, Buffalo, Eland, Sable Antelope, Hippo, Lichtenstein Hartebeest, Common Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Common Duiker, Southern Reedbuck, Wildebeest, Zebra, Impala, Klipspringer, Warthog, Bush pig. Leopards are common in the entire corridor whereas lions are more numerous in the northern part. In the south and in particular in Tunduru District man-eating lions are recorded for decades. Spotted Hyena, Jackal, Civet Cat and others carnivore species are also common. Several packs of Wild Dogs are observed in all parts of the corridor.

Cultural Heritage

The Selous-Niassa Wildlife Protection Corridor, locally known as “Ushoroba” the Swahili word for “corridor” has a rich history of trading, wars and ethnicity. The history of this area is linked to the history of northern Mozambique. Long distance trade on old trading routes to the settlements of Kilwa and Mikindani at the Indian Ocean and wars in the pre-colonial and colonial time as well as later in Mozambique had its influence on the culture and the people living in and around the corridor. The original ethnic groups settling in this area were the Udendeule and Ngindo. The Ngoni, a splinter group of the Zulu warrior tribe, immigrated from South Africa and the Yao, known for their slave and ivory trade, moved in from Mozambique in the 19th century. The Maji Maji War against the German Colonial Administration (1905-07), World War One (1914-18) and the Liberation and Civil War in Mozambique left its impact on the local communities and their economy. Nowadays the corridor is sparsely settled by the main ethnic groups of Undendeule, Ngoni and Yao having strong cross-border ties and relatives in the Niassa Reserve. All three ethnic groups still maintain to a certain extend their own culture which is expressed in their own language, music and dance. Although the chiefdoms have been abolished years ago the chiefs maintain their function of the spiritual and cultural leaders. Gravesites of ancient chiefs in Tanzania and Mozambique are still frequently visited by pilgrims. Up to date a few cultural historical sites were found, which might be of future interest; these include an old smelting site with remains of slag on Angecha Island in Ruvuma River, Nandanga Battlefields dating from World War I and Matawali Cave at Chingoli Table Mountain, a hide out during the Maji Maji War (1905/07). The people of the communities are in general subsistence farmers based on shifting cultivation and the production of some cash crops like tobacco, cashew nut, sesame and to a certain extent the sale of rice and maize. Their lifestyle is adapted to the surrounding environment with a strong dependence on natural resources for their daily needs like medicinal plants, honey, beeswax, construction material, firewood, mushrooms, and wild fruits, fibres for baskets, mats, ropes and fish-traps and clay for pottery. Some people are specialized hunters and fishermen with excellent skills. Beside some dairy cows there are few resident cattle because of trypanosomiasis. Instead people keep goats and poultry or produce fish in ponds for their protein needs.

Conservation strategy

The corridor is located entirely on the land of 29 villages within the administrative areas of Namtumbo and Tunduru Districts in Ruvuma Region. In order to find a balance between village development needs and the conservation of nature community based natural resources management and in particular village Wildlife Management Areas are the major components. In a participative process of land-use planning local communities designate areas in which they conserve and manage wildlife and other natural resources. Revenues accrue to the villages. Thus WMA contribute not only to conservation but equally important to development and poverty alleviation in the rural areas. WMA are a core element of the 'Wildlife Policy' of Tanzania (1998). The corridor is composed of a contiguous network of five Wildlife Management Areas managed by Community Based Organisations. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) assisted the Wildlife Division in the initial establishment of two WMAs immediately south of the Selous Game Reserve until 2005. There, in cooperation with local and district authorities, 17 villages registered two Wildlife Management Areas, the “Mbarang’andu” and “Nalika” WMAs, with a total area of approximately 4,600 km2. Nalika obtained its official status as an Authorised Association during 2009 and Mbarang’andu during early 2010. The three CBOs, Chingoli, Kisungule and Kimbanda, are in the process of establishing their WMAs in the southern part of the corridor with the primary assistance from the German Development Bank (KfW) since 2008. Support and capacity building for these 5 WMAs is ongoing till November 2011.

Presentation in Australia

The International Team Leader for the Selous_Niassa Wildlife Protection Corridor project gave a...

Selous-Niassa Wildlife Protection Corridor vitally important

The results from a recent short term study on wild dogs and other large ...