The verdant Uluguru Mountains – home to the matrilineal Luguru people – rise up majestically from the plains just south of Morogoro, dominating vistas from town. Part of the Eastern Arc chain, the mountains are home to a wealth of birds, plants and insects. These include many unique species, such as the Uluguru bush shrike. The only comparable mountain-forest area in East Africa, as far as age and endemism are concerned, is the Usambara Mountains. Sadly, due to the Uluguru’s high population density, most of the original forest cover has been depleted, although small protected patches remain on the upper slopes.
The Uluguru Mountains are found within Morogoro District (majority), Mvomero District and Morogoro Municipality – all within Morogoro Region. The main Uluguru Mountains is a ridge running approximately north-south and rising to 2,630 m altitude at their highest point. The greater Ulugurus area also includes a number of isolated massifs surrounding the main block – Kitulangh’alo, Dindili, Mkumgwe, Mindu and Nguru ya Ndege. On the main Uluguru range, 50 villages touch the forest boundary and over 151,000 people are found within the mountain area, often at increasing densities at higher altitudes up to the forest boundary.
The Uluguru range contains one Nature Reserve (formed of Uluguru North, Uluguru South and Bunduki Forest Reserves with a corridor across the Bunduki Gap) that is found in both Morogoro and Mvomero districts and Morogoro Municipality. In addition there are five Forest Reserves supporting Eastern Arc forest habitats within Morogoro District (Kasanga, Mkangala, Mlaliwila, Ngambaula, Tongeni River). Within the same district, Eastern Arc forest is also found in five outlier mountain block reserves (Mkungwe, Nguru ya Ndege, Dindili, Kitulang’halo, Mindu). In total these reserves cover 35,700 ha. Within Mvomero District there is an additional two Forest Reserves are found on the main Uluguru ridge (Shikurufumi), which covers around 280 ha.
The vegetation of the Uluguru main ridge and the outlying blocks is extremely variable. It ranges from drier lowland coastal forest habitats, to transitional rainforests, to sub-montane, montane and upper montane forest types. It also includes an area of afromontane grasslands on the Lukwangule plateau. All these habitats are rich in endemic species and are all of high conservation priority.