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Eastern Afromontane Hotspot

The Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot covering an area of 1,017,806 sq km encompasses many widely scattered but biogeographically similar mountain ranges in Eastern Africa from Saudi Arabia in the north to Zimbabwe in the south. Vegetation includes Afroalpine vegetation, upper montane, montane, submontane and lowland forests, Afromontane grassland and heath land plant communities, alpine moorlands and savanna.

The hotspot has 7,598 plant, 490 mammal, 1,299 bird, 347 reptile, 229 amphibian and 893 freshwater fish species. One of the best known flowering plants of the region are the species of African violets (Saintpaulia spp.). Birds unique to the region include the Taita thrush (Turdus helleri), Usambara akalat (Sheppardia montana), blue swallows (Hirundo atrocaerulea), Rwenzori turaco (Musophaga johnstoni) and the African green broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri).

The majestic African elephants (Loxodonta africana) and leopards (Panthera pardus) found in other parts of Africa are found in this hotspot. One of the most charismatic primates found here are the extremely endangered mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). Other primates of importance are the endemic Sanje mangabey (Cercocebus sanjei), the Udzungwa red colobus (Procolobus gordonorum) and the mountain dwarf galago (Galagoides orinus). Six species of endemic shrews including the desperate shrew (Crocidura desperate) are found here. Other notable mammalian inhabitants are the very rare Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis), Abbotts (Cephalophus spadix) and Ruwenzori duiker (Cephalophus rubidus), the eastern tree hyrax (Dendrohyrax validus) and the robust chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii).

Among reptiles different species of chameleons are found and include the very rare strange-horned chameleon (Bradypodion xenorhinus), Mulanje mountain chameleon (Bradypodion mulanjense) and the Malawi stumptail chameleon (Rhampholeon platyceps). The region is also home to the genus Nectophrynoides, which includes a majority of the world's viviparous (live-bearing) frogs. One of these species, the Kihansi spray toad (Nectophrynoides asperginis) occurs only in a 2 ha spray zone of the Kihansi waterfalls in the Udzungwa mountains. The region has 1,299 species of butterflies including Africa's largest butterfly, the African giant swallowtail (Papilio antimachus), which has a wingspan of nearly 24 cm.

Clearing land for commercial agriculture, estates and plantations, fire, infrastructure development, fuelwood collection, overgrazing by livestock, collecting plants for medicinal bushmeat hunting, civil strife, logging and mining are all threats to the region. About 15% or 154,132 sq km of land is under some form of official protection. International conservation organisations active in the region include the World Bank, Global Environment Facility-United Nations Development Programme, Danish International Development Agency, Finnish International Development Agency (Global Finland), World Wide Fund for Nature, Conservation International, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation. Other local non-governmental organisations actively working in the field are the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group, Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania, Birdlife International and Nature Kenya,

[The information has been sourced from the Conservation International website on biodiversity hotspots ( Accessed in February 2008.]

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