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Mkomazi is the southern tip of the Sahel zone. It is a classic dry-country reserve of grey-green nyika bush, ancient baobab trees and isolated rocky hills. Elsewhere, the seas of bush give way to open savannah woodlands of umbrella acacias and mbugas - shallow valleys of grassland. The animals, too, are typical of the arid nyika. Giraffe, oryx, gerenuk, hartebeest, lesser kudu, eland, impala and Grant’s gazelle share the reserve with elephant, buffalo, and numerous predators, including lion, leopard and cheetah. In all, 78 species of mammals have been recorded. The birds of Mkomazi are even more numerous, with over 400-recorded species. Doves, hornbills, weavers and guinea-fowl are all present in large numbers - as well as such striking species as the martial eagle and violet wood-hoopoe.

Degradation of the land By 1988, Mkomazi was in steep decline. It represented a classic example of degradation. Heavy poaching had wiped out its black rhino and elephant populations. Overgrazing, deliberate burning and illegal hunting had also taken their toll. At one time, it was even feared that the reserve might be de-gazetted and released for subsistence agriculture. The Tanzanian Government then re-examined the status of Mkomazi Game Reserve, with a view to ensuring the complete rehabilitation of this vast area and the reintroduction of its endangered species, and the reserve was awarded National Priority Project status.       continued . . .

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