Rubeho Mountains – Geology, Climate, Flora, Fauna & More

Rubeho Mountains – Geology, Climate, Flora, Fauna and More

The Rubeho mountains are a mountainous region in Tanzania’s central region. Mountains in the Morogoro and Dodoma regions of Tanzania, southeast of the capital Dodoma. The Rubeho mountains, which are part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, are residence to a biodiverse population of flora and wildlife, including many endemic species.

Rubeho Mountains Geography

The Rubeho mountains are a dissected plain that covers 4636 square kilometres. Mangalisa [2,286 metres], Mafwemiro [2,152 metres], and Ledengombe[1,941 meterss] are the highest mountains in the range. The steep-sided basin of the Big Ruaha River divides the Rubeho Peaks from the Udzungwa Peaks to the south. A thin gap towards the southeast separates the Rubeho Mountains, and the Uvidunda Mt. The Pala Peaks are to the east, while the Mkata Plain lies beyond. On the northern and north-east, the Mkondoa River divides the Rubeho Peaks from the Ukaguru Mt. To the west are the Wota Mt, a western anomaly of the Rubeho mountains, and the East African Plateau.

Rubeho Mountains Climate

The Rubeho mountains receive higher rainfall than the neighboring plains because they intercept moisture-laden breezes from the Indian Ocean. The rainy season, which runs from November to May, sees the most rainfall, while mist and mild rain can be found at higher altitudes during the drier season. Rainfall is heavier on the south and east slopes, which face the Indian Seas, and lesser on the west and north slopes, which are in the rain shadow of the mountains. Higher elevations have lower temperatures.

Rubeho Mountains Geology

The Rubeho mountains, like the others in the East Arc, are composed of old crystalline Precambrian stones that have been elevated along fault lines spanning millions of years. Although the most current uplift era began thirty million years ago, the fault system, as well as the uplift mechanism, maybe much older. The soils formed by these old rocks are less fruitful than the volcanic soils found in the mountains to the west and north.

Flora and Fauna Surrounding the Rubeho Mountains

Rubeho mountains in the background of the Baobab trees
Rubeho mountains in the background of the Baobab trees

The site was covered in thick rainforest some thirty mill years ago. The lowland woods were converted to grassland during a drier and cooler period ten mill years ago, preserving the mountains as “islands” where tropical rainforests thrived. Endemism and diversified flora and fauna have resulted from the long-term preservation of a humid environment and the separation of each mountain. The Rubeho mountains and adjacent East Arc mountains have a lot of endemic species; hence they have a lot of biodiversities [more than 25 per cent of the vertebrate family].

Miombo woodland, dry montane forest, montane grassland, montane rainforest, as well as Acacia-Commiphora bushlands and undergrowth cover the Rubeho Mountains. Forests range in elevation from 520 to 2050 meters, and their composition and species types change with altitude and rainfall. Satellite photographs from 1999 to 2003 revealed that 464 km2 of the highlands were still covered with evergreen forest.

The wetter east and southern slopes of the Rubeho mountains receive a lot more rainfall from the Indian Ocean, allowing miombo woodlands to thrive at lower altitudes, transitional tropical rainforests above 520 meters, and montane tropical rainforests to thrive at higher altitudes. Tree types in the montane tropical rainforest include Parinari excelsa, Macaranga kilimandscharica, Aphloia theiformis, Agarista salicifolia, Bridelia micrantha, Diospyros whyteana, Halleria Lucida, Polyscias fulva, Maesa lanceolata, Maytenus acuminata, Nuxia congesta, Catha edulis.

Macaranga kilimandscharica is now the dominating tree on the western flank of the primary plateau, generating a 10 to 15-meter cover in dry montane rainforests in basins at 1,600 to 1,700 metres elevation.

The drier west and north-western slopes contain Acacia-Commiphora bushlands and undergrowth at lower altitudes and dry montane rainforests at higher altitudes.

The Rubeho bird [Scepomycter rubehoensis] is a mountain songbird that is only found in the Rubeho and Uvidunda ranges. Rubeho woodland partridge [Xenoperdix obscuratus], as well as Rubeho akalat [Sheppardia aurantiithorax], are two more near-endemic or endemic birds.

The eastern plateau’s forests are home to elephants [Loxodonta africana] and red woodland duikers [Cephalophus natalensis].

Rubeho Mountains Protected Areas and Conservation

Ukwiva Forest Reserve (54,635 hectares), Mafwemiro Forest Reserve [3,238 hectares], and Mangalisa Forest Reserve [4,988 hectares] are among the protected areas. Ukwiva is located in the northeastern part of the central plateau and comprises the mountains’ biggest chunk of evergreen montane woodland on the east slope, as well as dry montane forest between 1,600 to 1,700 meters. The transitional green rainforests in the Pala Highlands, slightly east of the central plateau, make up the Pala Highland Forest Reserve [108.34 km2]. Northwest of Ukivwa is Mafwemiro. Mangalisa is a distinct mountain range northward of the Big Ruaha River, west of the central plateau. The Mangalisa woodland reserve contains sections of disturbed dry high-elevated semi-evergreen forest and Podocarpus-controlled montane forest in the south.

Transport in Rubeho Mountains

The the highway number A7 in Tanzania borders the southern edge of the highlands, following the Big Ruaha River before heading northeast through the Rubeho-Uvidunda mountain gap. Between western Tanzania and Dar es Salaam, the Tanzania Main Line railway skirts the north end of the highlands, following the Mkondoa River between both the Ukaguru and the Rubeho mountains. The Mikumi line of the Central Railway branches southward via the Mkata Plain east of the highlands at Kilosa.

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