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        Name Lake Manyara National Park

        IUCN Management Category II and IX (National Park and Biosphere Reserve)

        Biogeographical Province 3.05.04 (East African Woodand/savanna)

        Geographical Location In Arusha Region, 117km southwest of Arusha. 330'S, 3560'E.

        Date and History of Establishment Given National Park status in 1960, having been a Game Reserve since 1957, and before then a Game Controlled Area. Declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1981.

        Area 32,500ha, of which approximately one third is land, the remainder being part of Lake Manyara. The land area includes about 550ha added to the southern end in 1974.

        Land Tenure Government

        Altitude 960-1478m

        Physical Features The majority of the land area of the park is a narrow strip running between the Gregory Rift wall to the west and Lake Manyara, an alkaline or soda-lake, to the east. Most of the rift wall and in some places the edge of the plateau at its top are included in the park. The escarpment's face is dissected by spectacular gorges from which rivers, some flowing year round, feed into the lake, which is part of a closed drainage system. Porous volcanic rock occurs in the north, where perennial spring-fed rivers emerge from the escarpment base. The south is characterized by non-porous ancient crystalline rock. There are hot springs in the south where the rift wall comes close to the lake edge. Parts of the rift wall are gently sloping and covered in a network of animal trails, while elsewhere the face of the scarp is steep and rugged. Mean annual rainfall is 650mm, varying along the north-south axis of the park and occurring in two seasons, November-December and February-April. Rainfall variation results in marked changes in the level of the lake, which can be reduced to nearly nothing. Mean annual temperature is 22C.

        Climate No information

        Vegetation A complex mosaic of habitat types varies with topography. Below the rift wall, perennial springs in the north support a ground water forest, characterized by Trichelia roka, Croton macrostachyus, a fig Ficus sycamorus, and Tabernaemontana usambarensis, and edaphic grasslands of Cynodon dactylon. The tree species reappear in riverine habitats. At the edges of the ground water forest, yellow fever trees Acacia xanthophloea and the palm Phoenix reclinata form dense stands. A dense swamp of Typha angustifolia has reappeared at the northwest corner of the lake after being absent for many years. The central area of the park contains woodland of A. tortilis, A. sieberiana, and Balanites aegyptiaca. To the south, Capparis tomentosa, the sausage tree Kigelia africana, and perennial grasses are found. Along the western lake shore are alkaline grasslands characterized by Sporobolus spicatus. The escarpment face is characterized by perennial herb Ruellia megachlamys and is distinguished by baobab trees Adansonia digitata. Unlike the remainder of the park, the area above the rift wall on the plateau is subject to fires, restrained from moving east by the prevailing southeasterly wind. Here, fire-resistant grasses such as Themeda triandra are characteristic. To the south on the plateau, the Marang Forest Reserve is a montane forest resembling the Ngorongoro Crater rim forest to the north; the Marang Forest vegetation is not known to have been studied.

        Fauna Manyara has what is possibly the greatest biomass density (weight per area) of mammals in the world. Elephant Loxodonta africana (T) (density 6/km) and buffalo Syncerus caffer (density 18/km) comprise the bulk of the biomass. Among visitors the park is well known for its lions Panthera leo which rest through the day several metres up in the branches of large trees (a habit which could be considered adaptive given the density of the above two species). Black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis (T) are still present, although no longer in the great numbers for which Manyara was known by hunters. Other significant species are hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius, impala Aepyceros melampus, giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis, and zebra Equus burchelli. Among other species are wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus, bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus, leopard Panthera pardus (T), and baboon Papio anubis. In the dry season, large herds of wildebeest and other plains game from the Mto wa Mbu Game Controlled Area enter the park for short periods from the north. Manyara also has exceptional numbers of birds, in terms of both species (seen as of 1984) and populations. Spectacular flocks of water fowl are often present, sometimes breeding. Lesser flamingo Phoenicopterus minor can occur in thousands or millions and greater flamingo P. ruber in smaller numbers. White pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus, yellow-billed storks Ibis ibis, and white-necked cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo are common. At least 44 species of diurnal birds of prey occur, including palm-nut vulture Gypohierax angolensis and Ayre's hawk eagle Hieraaetus dubius. Chestnut-banded sand plovers Charadrius venustus, common in the past, are now rarely sighted. The many reptiles include nile monitor lizard Varanus niloticus, often seen near rivers, and several species of cobra.

        Cultural Heritage No information

        Local Human Population No information

        Visitors and Visitor Facilities Thanks to both its intrinsic appeal and its convenient location close to Arusha on the route to Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park, Manyara has many visitors (28,000 pa). Accommodation varies from a hotel (100 beds) sited at the edge of the plateau above the rift wall to several campsites near the main gate at the north end of the park. One of the campsites consists of small and simple self-contained cottages or bandas. A hostel at park headquarters is suitable for school parties. There is an airstrip outside the park near the hotel. A small museum is at the main gate. A good all-weather track runs the length of the park; several secondary tracks loop off the main route. Manyara has traditionally been accessed as a cul de sac from the north; the southern gate has recently been opened to encourage movement to and from Tarangire National Park in the southeast.

        Scientific Research and Facilities The vegetation has been catalogued, described, and mapped by several researchers. A longitudinal ongoing study of the elephants began in 1966. The behavior and ecology of the buffalo was investigated from 1981-1985. (See references below).

        Housing for scientists may be found outside the park in the village of Mto wa Mbu and at the bandas. A very small research camp in the centre of the park, built and primarily used by the elephant research project, is under the administration of the Serengeti Wildlife Research Institute. A herbarium of the park is kept at the research camp. Scientists working at Manyara are affiliated with the Seronera Research Centre of the S.W.R.I.

        Conservation Value No information

        Conservation Management Total. To the north and northeast of the park is the Mto wa Mbu Game Controlled Area, where licenced hunting is permitted. Southwest and contiguous to the park is the Marang Forest Reserve, in which no development is allowed.


        No formal management plan exists, although draft versions have been made by several park wardens. A good relationship between park management and local inhabitants, including a network of informers, helps to keep poaching to a minimum; this is also aided by a high density of ranger patrols. Several techniques have been used to control the movement of animals from the park into contiguous agricultural land: an electric fence was in use along the northern boundary for several years in the 1960's, as was a heavy cable fence along the original southern boundary. Neither is now functional. Crop-raiding elephants and other species and cattle-killing lions are very occasionally shot by the authorities. Since 1970 plans have existed to increase the size of the park, for which approval was given in 1978. WWF/IUCN Project 1935 in 1980 gave funds towards the extension of the park to the south (for development of ranger posts, etc.). The Marang Forest Reserve (20,000ha), in the southwest, is now effectively part of the park. On a smaller scale, galvanized wire mesh wrapped around the trunk of the tree has been used with great effect to prevent elephants from debarking and thus hastening the death of mature Acacia tortilis, favored resting places for lions.

        Management Constraints The park is too small to be viable. Current boundaries exclude substantial parts of the normal daily range of many of the large mammals, with profound consequences for both the park and those living nearby; elephants are chronic invaders of land are sometimes fatally speared in cultivated land bordering the park, which forms a buffer zone by definition only. Repeated major epidemics (1959: rinderpest-20% mortality buffalo; 1977: (unidentified)-15% mortality elephant; 1984: anthrax-90% mortality impala (same likely in 1965)) since the park was established demonstrate the critical need for allowing some movement of animals between Manyara and other reserves. The proposed extension of the park to the west (the plateau above the scarp) and to the south, and the proposed corridors from the northeast and southeast to Tarangire National Park would solve several problems at once, by including land regularly used by the resident population, incorporating higher rainfall areas that serve as critical refuges in times of drought, and by allowing for genetic flow. These new boundary lines have been mapped and plans exist for the administration of the enlarged areas and concomitant changes in current practice; for example, once the park is expanded ranger posts which are now only at the base of the escarpment can be shifted to the western boundary on the plateau, a far more effective location from which to patrol and to police the border. While the Marang Forest Reserve can be incorporated into the park easily as an exchange between government bodies, expanding the park to the south and west requires compensating and resettling displaced farmers. Funds are required for this. The park's vegetation and thus its fauna exist as they do in very large part because of rainfall outside the park to the west. Those drainage systems and catchment areas must be safeguarded for the sake of both the park and its agricultural and pastoral neighbours. Steadily increasing sand deposits from rivers is a sign of erosion outside the park. Integration of park and local planning is necessary if either is to succeed and to avoid the repetition of cases such as the ILO rice cultivation and irrigation project in the north that took place with no ecological impact study or liaison with the national park. In part due to the irrigation project, and for an array of other reasons, the human population around the park is steadily increasing. The electric fence in the north could be replaced by an effective low maintenance modern version. Illegal fishing in the park's waters is a problem, in part because poachers may use boats to gain access.

        Staff Senior park warden, one or two support wardens, administrator/accountant, and park assistant; total staff of 66 (1984).

        Budget 1984, 2,603,000 Tanzania shillings (projected).

        Local Addresses

        Lake Manyara National Park, P.O. Box 12, Mto wa Mbu.


        Arens, W. (1972). On the Frontier of Change: Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania.

        Douglas-Hamilton, I. (1972). On the ecology and behaviour of the African elephant. D.Phil. thesis, University of Oxford, Oxford.

        Douglas-Hamilton, I. (1973). On the ecology and behaviour of the Lake Manyara elephants. East African Wildlife Journal 11: 401-403.

        Douglas-Hamilton, I. and Douglas-Hamilton, O. (1975). Among the Elephants. Collins and Harvill Press: London.

        Greenway, P.J. and Vesey-FitzGerald, D.F. (1969). The vegetation of Lake Manyara National Park. Journal of Ecology 57: 127-149.

        Greenway, P.J. and Vesey-FitzGerald, D.F. (1972). Annotated check-list of plants occurring in Lake Manyara National Park. Journal of East African Natural History Society and National Museum 28(130): 1-29.

        Harris, J.H. (1951). Lake Manyara: The phenomenon of a salt crust which disappears as it is approached. Tanganyika Notes and Records. 30: 6-14.

        IUCN/WWF Project 1935. Tanzania, Lake Manyara National Park, Southern Extension.

        Kinoti, G. (1961). A general report of the Makerere expedition to Lake Manyara. April-July 1961. Makerere University College, Kampala, Uganda.

        Loth, P.E. and Prins, H.H.T. (1986) (in press). The vegetation of Lake Manyara National Park: Structural patterns. ITC J.(in press) [with a landscape ecological map, 1:50,000].

        Makacha, S. and Schaller, G.B. (1969). Observations on lions in the Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania. East African Wildlife Journal 7: 99-103.

        Mwalyosi, R.B.B. (1977). A count of large mammals in the Lake Manyara National Park. East African Wildlife Journal 15: 333-335.

        Mwalyosi, R.B.B. (1977). Vegetation changes in Lake Manyara National Park. M.Sc. thesis, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

        Mwalyosi, R.B.B. (1980). Prescription for a park. Animal Kingdom 83(3): 35-40.

        Mwalyosi, R.B.B. (1981). Ecological changes in Lake Manyara National Park. Afr. J. Ecol. 19: 201-204.

        Mwalyosi, R.B.B. (1983). Utilization of pastures in Lake Manyara National Park. Afr. J. of Ecol. 21: 135-137.

        Prins, H.H.T. (in prep). The relationship of social organization and food exploitation in the African buffalo. Ph.D. thesis, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.

        Russell, Hugh (196?). Lake Manyara National Park: A guide. Arusha: Tanzania National Parks.

        Scherlis, J.S. (in prep). The behavioral ecology of the Manyara elephants. Ph.D. thesis, University of Cambridge, Cambridge.

        Vesey-FitzGerald, D.F. (1969). Utilization of the habitat by buffalo in Lake Manyara National Park. East African Wildlife Journal 7: 131-145.

        Vesey-FitzGerald, D.F. (1973). Animal impact on vegetation and plant succession in Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania. Oikos. 24: 314-325.

        Watermeyer, A.M. and Elliott, H.F.I. (1943). Lake Manyara. Tanganyika Notes and Records 15: 58-71.

        Watson, R.M. and Turner, M.I.M. (1965). A count of the large mammals of the Lake Manyara National Park: Results and discussion. East African Wildlife Journal 3: 95-98.

        Weyerhaeuser, R. (1982). On the ecology of the Lake Manyara elephants. M.F.Sc. report, Yale University, New Haven.

        Date 1986

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