Kilimanjaro Flora & Fauna

Flora and Fauna

Kilimanjaro

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Kilimanjaro Flora and Fauna

The lower slopes of the mountain are heavily cultivated, in particular those to the south which receive plenty of rainfall. Elsewhere lower rainfall coupled with the porosity of the lava soils makes conditions less suitable for cultivation. The forest belt which completely encircles the mountain and extends from about 1800m. to 2900m. provides the best conditions for plant life. Above the forest belt the porous soils and lower rainfall result in much sparser vegetation with semi-desert conditions prevailing above 4000m.

The cultivated belt contains many small holdings (shambas) where bananas and various vegetables are grown. The area is also suitable for coffee and there are several major plantations.

The southern, wetter forests contain camphor, podocarpus, fig and other trees; lush undergrowth contains many giant ferns and Usnea (old man's beard) drapes everything. Vines, mimulopsis and a multitude of flowers can be found in valleys and in clearer areas. The northern, drier forests contain podocarpus, junipers and olives. In contrast to Mount Kenya few large animals are found in this zone, though colobus and blue monkeys can often be seen but other inhabitants such as smaller antelopes and leopards are very shy. Many colourful birds are found here, the most noticeable being the Hornbill and the Turaco with its dark red wing markings. In the more extensive western forest areas the fauna is richer and elephant and buffalo are sometimes seen here.

The forests end abruptly without a bamboo zone as found on most other East African mountains. Above, the rapidly thinning giant heather zone leads to the upper moorlands; here the giant groundsels and altitude tropical mountain zones can be found. There are few animals other than rodents though leopard spoor can often be seen. Eagles and buzzards soar high above and smaller birds such as the alpine chat and streaky seed eater can also be seen. In the higher moorland and a pine zones only a few tufts of grass, mosses and lichen are found, together with occasional flowers such as the everlasting helichrysums and senecios.

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ALW 20/01/2016