Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania
Mkomazi National Park is found in Tanzania which is located in the eastern region of the African continent along geographical co-ordinates 04o17’58”S 38o23’22”E. Mkomazi National Park is located in the north eastern Tanzania is bordered by the pare Usambara mountains, glimpses of mountain Kilimanjaro can be had in the north western part of the park and in the north, Mkomazi National Park forms a connection with Kenya’s southern west Tsavo National Park and together form one of the biggest conservation eco systems on the African continent.
Mkomazi national park was created in 1951 but it wasn’t as attractive to visitors as the Ngorongoro conservation area and the Serengeti plains largely due to its inaccessibility hence it had a low visitor turn up until in 1989, when the Tanzanian government reviewed its potential and established better transport facilities and these greatly turned its fortunes around as visitor numbers increased.
The Mkomazi National Park is located in the Nyika plains and as a result experiences a dry tropical savannah climate characterized by low grasslands with scattered dry acacia umbrella trees and a few scattered baobab trees, Mkomazi typical tropical savanna climate that is characterized by 2 wet seasons that come in the months of march- May with the longer rains with temperatures ranging between a minimum of 19oC or 66oF usually at night to a maximum of 29oC or 88oF day time. The 2nd rain season comes with shorter rains and experiences similar temperatures like those of the longer rain season. The dry months are between January- late February or early march and also between June- September and during this time temperatures range from a minimum of 19oC or 66oF normally at night and a maximum of 26oC or 79oF-32oC or 90oF during daytime with sunny and clear skies.
Mkomazi National Park is a host to a variety of wildlife species and these include lions giraffe, cape buffaloes, zebras, wildebeest, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, gazelles, topis, dik dik, elands, lesser kudus. 450 Bird species are found here include kori bustard, martial eagle, ostrich, pringle’s puffback, red bellied parrot, friedmann’s lark, black bellied sunbird, bare eyed thrush, eastern chanting goshawk, pink breasted lark.
Attractions in Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania
Mkomazi National Park Tanzania has a numerous attraction and these include
Cape buffalo; The cape buffalo is also referred to as the African buffalo and they are a very common sight throughout this park. It is usually mistaken to be a close relative to domesticated cattle but its rather related to actually other bigger bovines. Buffaloes have a coarse black coat unlike their close relatives the forest buffaloes which have a reddish coat. As the male buffaloes grow older, the bases of their horns grows closer and it can even unite forming a feature called a “boss” which is very had to penetrate even with a gun bullet of less 16mm. you can differentiate a male buffalo from a female one by observing the structure of their horns, the male buffalo horns grow while curving outwards while the ones of the female grow while curving inside. The African buffalo is a big animal with a shoulder height of 1.0-1.7m or 3.3-5.6ft. it has a body length of 1.7-3.4m or 5.6-11.2ft and its tail has a length of 70-110cm or 28-43in. An adult male African buffalo can weigh as much as between 500-1000kg but the females usually weigh less than this. Cape buffaloes are usually found in the great plains of African savanna like Murchison falls park. Buffaloes usually stay in large herds that consist anywhere from 5-100 individuals and this is primarily for protection purposes from their predators. Although buffaloes have a very poor eye sight, this is compensated by possessing an acute sense of smell coupled with a keen sense of hearing, in fact, the buffaloes can stop whatever they are doing and stand still for many minutes or sometimes even hours just to listen even to the tiniest of sounds that may be made by any predator that may be stalking them. when buffaloes are attacked, they male buffaloes form defensive wall by being at the flanks of the herd while the females and calves are within the inner part of the herd. the male buffaloes can even sometimes turn and chase the attacking predators They have a gestation period of 11.5 months and a life span of over 25 years in their natural habitats.
Lesser kudu; This also belongs to the antelope subspecies and can be identified using the spiral horns that are only present in males measuring 50-70cm, these horns are twisted between 2- 2.5 times, these horns are slender and have a darker brown color with a white tip. The coat in females and juvenile lesser kudus is rufous while yellowish grey or darker in males, they have a distinctive long white stripe that runs across their backs with 11-14 stripes that run towards the sides of their bellies. A black stripe runs from each eye to the center of the face, the area around their lips is white and their underbellies are also white. These animals have a body length of 110-140cm or43-55in. these animals display sexual dimorphism with males having a shoulder height of about 95-105cm or 37-41in while females stand in at 90-100cm or 35-39in, the males weigh in at between 92-108kg or 203-238ib while females weigh between 56-70kg or 123-154ib. they have a bushy tail with a long white underneath and a black tip at the end measuring between 25-40cm. these animals are usually active at night and in the early morning hours, when scared the lesser kudus will stand still to ascertain what the danger is and on seeing a predator approaching they will bark then make leaps of upto 2m high or 6.6ft. the males like living a solitary life and they have a lifespan of about 10 years in the wild
Wildebeest; The wildebeests are members of the antelope group and belong to the connochaetes genus. In east Africa they are 2 closely related wildebeests and that is the blue wildebeest and the black wildebeest but the blue wildebeest is the most common one in the Mkomazi National Park. These two species can be identified basing on few things like their coat colors and also on the nature of their horns, the blue wildebeest horns protrude to the side then curve downward before curving upwards as they come to an end, the horns of black wildebeests on the other hand curve forward first then downwards and finally upwards as they come to their tips. The blue wildebeests also bigger than the black wildebeests, the male blue wildebeests weigh about 250kg with a standing height of 150cm, female blue wildebeest stand at 135cm at the shoulders and weigh around 180kg while the male black wildebeests stand between 112-120cm at shoulder height and weigh 180kg and their female counterparts stand in at 108cm at the shoulders with a body weight of 155kg. These wildebeests are famous for their annual migration that takes place from June- august. This migration involves these animals to trek great distances over a 100s of kilometers as they cross from the southern Serengeti plains into the southern parts of the Maasai Mara reserve in southern in Kenya. This migration is majorly done following the rainfall season patterns in the east African region. During these migrations, the wildebeest organize themselves in large herds and trek in this group to areas of new pastures. These animals also show a high level of swarm intelligence as they perform similar function without anyone or anything dictating it to them for example, they can all decide to cross the river from the same spot regardless of whether it is infested with many predators like crocodiles or not.
Topi; This animal is another one of the antelope subspecies and the topi resembles the hartebeest but it can be distinctively identified basing on its hump at the base of its neck and the dark purple patches it has on the upper legs with the rest of the body colored in a reddish-brown coat. It also has an elongated neck and their faces have a dark mask like coloration with ringed and lyrate shaped horns that are present in both males and females alike. The topi has a body length of 150-210cm or 59-83in and shoulder height of 100-130cm or 39-51in with an average body weight of 68-160kg. males are usually larger and darker than females. During mating the female topis will aggressively fight each other so as to mate with dominant male topis that they have ever mate with before but this might force the male to fight off some of these dominant females so as to increase his chances of mating with new females. These animals have a gestation period of about 238 days and when they giving birth, the mother will leave the herd and seek a hiding place to give birth, after giving birth, the calve may have to stand immediately and follow its mother as these animals have both the follower and hider parenting characteristics. The mother will look after her calf for a year or until a new calf is born.
African wild dog; An African wild dog is also called the painted hunting dog or painted wolf or African hunting dog. The African wild dog belongs to the canids group and it is the largest member of this group in Africa has been named as part of Africa’s big 7 game due to their super predatory instincts. African wild dogs are animals that are highly social animals and they live in groups. The wild dogs are the heaviest of the African canids group animals, they have a coat that has bristle hairs with no underfur, their coat is predominantly black with small yellow and white patches. The African dogs have a black muzzle that turns brown on the cheeks, they have a white color pattern on their fore region of the legs. The tail is white at the tip, black in the middle and brown at the base. These African dogs have a shoulder height of 60-75cm or 24-30in, a body length of 71-112cm or 28-44in and a tail that measures 29-41cm or 11-16in. these dogs have an average body weight of 20-25kg or 44-55ib but these dogs exhibit sexual dimorphism were the females are slightly smaller than their male counter parts 3-7%. The African dogs are highly social animals that live and hunt in packs that ranges from 4-30 individuals. Both male and female wild dog have separate social dominance hierarchies. The male hierarchy is usually led by the oldest male but it may also be overthrown by younger males. Unlike in other mammal species where the males leave the natal group after attaining sexual maturity, amongst the wild dogs, it’s the other way round as the females are the ones which leave the natal group after attaining sexual maturity and will at times chase away the other females they find in the new groups they have joined. The wild dogs are carnivores and entirely feed on flesh. These dogs are formidable super athletes which can run a marathon as they have the stamina to chase their prey at a constant speed of about 66 km per hour or 41miles/hour for over 10-60minutes which always tires out the prey hence being caught after a chase for about 2km. The wild dogs exhibit a rare character after catching their prey, where they might not kill it before eating it but rather start eating it while it’s still alive until the prey succumbs to its injuries inflicted by these dogs. These dogs surprisingly have a higher kill rate success compared to formidable hunters such as lions and leopards. These dogs can hunt from small antelopes to larger ones like wildebeests. Small prey takes wild dogs a short time to kill normally 3-5 minutes as they use a strategy of blocking their escape routes before ambushing them, large prey is hunted by these dogs by creating panic to the group or herd of prey they then isolate one individual prey and chase it until it gets tired. Wild dogs have a gestation period of about 69-73days after which they can give birth to a litter of 6-12 puppies. Since they give birth to so many puppies which makes feeding them by the group difficult, it’s only the dominant females in a group that have to give birth hence when other females in a group give birth, the dominant female is likely to kill their puppies. The puppies will join the hunting party when aged 8-10 weeks old.
Masai giraffe; Masai giraffe can be distinguished from other giraffe sub species from their star-like stamped patches which are irregular and become darker especially in males as they age. The Masai giraffe is generally brown in colour with several shades of colour which can range from dried oak to orange and cream. The lower parts of their limbs are sticky like or very skinny but the upper parts of these limbs are study so as to support their massive weight. The giraffes have a unique walking pattern where as they have the ability to move both the front and hind limbs of one side of the body at once and then counter balance it by moving their long neck in the opposite direction. The adult male giraffe has an average height of 4.3-5.7m or 14.1-18.7ft and weighs in at 1192kg or 2628ib while an adult female weighs in at 828kg or 1825ib hence showing sexual dimorphism amongst giraffes. The giraffe also has a long tongue that is measured at an average of 45cm or 18in and it has a purplish black color which is believed to protect it from sunburns. The Masai giraffes have the longest tail among all land mammals which measures up to 3.3ft long. Due to their big body mass giraffes also have a massive heart that weighs up to 5ibs so as to pump 60 litres of blood needed to move around the giraffe’s body in just one minute. Giraffes also have the ability to sleep while standing and even when they lie down, they will put their long neck on their hip so as to avoid getting unconscious. The Masai giraffe are completely herbivores and spend their biggest part of the day about 16-20 hours feeding so as to satisfy their big appetites. The giraffe has a gestation period of 14-15 months and the birth period is between 1-6 hours after which a single calf is born and the mother will give birth while standing hence the calf will have to be ready for a rough landing when it comes out. The calves are born almost ready to walk because it takes a calf between 20 minutes – 1 hour to start walking. Masai giraffes have a life span of up to 25 years in their natural habitat.
Grants gazelle; Grants gazelles have a beige orange color on their backs and a white belly, they also have lyre shaped horns that are stout at the base and have clear rings on the horns. These horns have a length of41-81cm or 18-32in. The grant gazelles live in short grassed plains so as to have clear visibility of predators which stalk them for prey. The female grant gazelle weighs 35-50kg or 77-110ib while the male gazelle weighs 50-80kg or 110-180ib with an average standing height of 75-95cm or 30-37in. Unlike most of the subspecies that graze towards or around water sources, the grant gazelles graze going further away from the water sources that are usually roamed by predators. The gazelles have adapted to live without water for long days and they get most of their water from the pasture they graze on. The gazelles are territorial animals and males herd territories with many females mainly for mating. Mature gazelles will settle conflicts with superiority displays hence physical interactions are quite rare among these animals. Grant gazelles reach sexual maturity at 18 months of age. The male gazelles will test by smelling on the urine of the female to ascertain whether she in oestrus and when the female is ready to mate, it lifts her tail signaling the male to mount her. These animals have a gestation period of 198days after which, a single fawn is usually born. The fawn is usually born while its still very weak and can’t move but it will be able to so in a few days’ time and it will follow the mother to the herd where it starts fraternizing with other fawns. The fawn is weaned after 6 months but might stay with the mother until it reaches adolescence.
Dik dik; This is one of the smallest subspecies in the antelope group. The upper body part of the dik dik is gray brown while the lower parts including the belly, crest, flanks and legs are tan. The dik dik have an upright tuft that may sometime conceal the short ribbed horns in males which measure 7.6 or 3in. The dik dik have a shoulder height of about 30-40cm or 12-15.5in, a body length of 50-70cm or 19.5-27.5in and weigh between 3-6kg or 6.6-13.2ib. the name dik dik stems from the alarm calls mand by the females which is in addition to other sound calls mad by these animals which include a shrill and whistling. The dik dik are mainly monogamous animals that live in life long pairs within a territorial ground that has been marked out as a result fight among dik diks are quite rare though not ruled out completely. The dik dik reach sexual maturity 6 months for the females and the males 12 months. Females have a gestation period about 5 months after which it gives birth to a single calf weighing about 560-680g or 1.23-1.50ib for female calves while male calves weigh between 725-795g or 1.6-1.8ib, the mother will wean her calf after 6 weeks. The dik dik are mainly herbivores animals that eat shoots, fruits and berries.
Birds in Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania include the following
Ostriches; The ostrich is the biggest bird on the planet and in Tanzania it can be found in Mkomazi National Park. Ostrich feathers are usually black with white primaries and a tail. Their heads have thin hairs which makes them seem bare when observed from a distance. The ostriches’ heads are small in relation to their enormous body size the legs of ostriches are long and strong capable of producing a stride of 3-5mand can reach a top speed of 70km/hr making them the fastest running birds on ground. These birds have a wing span of about 2m or 6ft7in and a wing chord of 90cm or 35in. Ostriches have a body weight of 63-145kg or 139-320ib. Mature male ostriches can have a body height of 2.1-2,8m or 6ft11in-9ft2in while the female ostriches have average height that ranges between 1.7-2.0m or 5ft7in-6ft7in. The chicks of ostriches have the ability to grow by 25cm or9.8in per month during their 1st year of growth. Ostriches have long legs and neck to give them that outstanding body height of 2.8m or 9ft. Ostriches live in herds of between 5-20 birds, the male ostriches compete for mating rites by building ground nesting, dancing and display of their feathers, the females will only allow to mate with the alpha male. The main female ostrich lays between 6-11 eggs will other females in the herd lay about 6 eggs and these are the biggest eggs in the world with an average diameter of about 15cm and an average weight of 1-1.5kg per egg. The female and males take turns to incubate the eggs which do hatch after about 40 days of incubation. ostriches have a life span of about 40-45 years.
Martial eagle; The martial eagle is one of the largest living eagle species with a body length of 78-96cm or 31-38in, their wingspan measures up to 188-260cm or 6ft2in-8ft6in. unlike many bird species with sexual dimorphism, where the males are larger than females, the martial eagles have reversed sexual dimorphism with females being larger than males in both linear dimension and body mass.
Eastern chanting goshawk; The eastern chanting goshawk is a bird of prey that has a grey plumage mostly that can be seen on its head, breast, neck and upperparts, its belly and the wings have white linings, the undertail wing coverts are also white. The secondary flight feathers are light grey. The eastern chanting goshawk gives an impression of being a white bird when observed while in flight. This bird has a yellow cere but its beak is black strong and curved which is a perfect design for decapitating its victims, the legs are of a red orange color that are armed with long curved black talons perfectly designed for grabbing and holding firm its meal or let’s call it lunch time snack depending on the timing. juveniles of the eastern chanting goshawk are usually dull brown on their upper body parts. these birds have an average body length of 49-55cm with a wing span of 96-110cm. this bird is a loner bird and its mostly seen alone perching on tree tops or electric poles. it makes a melodious piping of “whee-pee-pee-pee” sound call. The Eastern chanting goshawk feeds mainly on reptiles like small lizards, snakes and other birds like doves or francolins.
Kori bustard; This is a mostly grey and brown colored bird with fine patterns of black and white. It has a white under part the legs have a yellow tinge color. The upper parts and wings are largely brown, it has white eye stripe above the eye and a black cape. The whole of its neck is colored in a whitish grey color with black to brown spots. These birds exhibit sexual dimorphism with the female being slim around the neck area and also has thinner legs. The male kori bustard has a body length of 120-150cm or 3ft11in-4ft11in and an average height of 71-120cm or 2ft4in-3ft11in with a wing span of 230275cm or 7ft7in-9ft weighing in at about 7-18kg or 15-40ib. the females on the other hand have a body length of 80-120cm or 2ft7in -3ft11in an average height of 60cm or 2ft, a wingspan of 177-220cm or 5ft10in-7ft3in and an average weight of 5.9kg or 13ib. this bird spends most of time on the ground and in case it gets scared, it will run away with its head held at a low angle of about 40o-60o so as to avoid being detected but if the chase continues it will take to the sky flying with slow wingbeats. These birds are normally silent but they will make a growling bark with a ca-caa-ca sound call. These birds normally feed on insects such as grasshoppers, beetles and locusts.
Tanzanian red billed hornbill; This bird has a curved bright red bill, they have a dark black patch around their eyes. Their face, throat, neck, breast and belly are colored white, the upper body parts are black with many small and big white spots. These birds have long tail feathers that are colored black on the upper side and white on the interior, their legs are grey black. They a body length of 42-48cm and n average body weight of 200g. they make a sound call of a series of loud accelerating clucking notes that are similar to those of T. erythrorhynchus.
Black bellied sunbird; The male black bellied sunbird has its chin, throat, head and lesser wing coverts in a metallic, golden green. This bird has a red orange breast band while its belly is of a dark black color just as its name suggests. The upper part of the neck and part of the rump have a blue color while the rest of the ump is black as well as the tail. Its legs and beak are black. This sunbird has an average body length of 13cm in males while females have 10cm of body length, the weight of these birds varies from 4-6g. these sunbirds feed on nectar, spiders, they also frequent flowers of the acacia and baobab trees.
Pink breasted lark; This bird greatly resembles the pipit Anthus in shape but the pink breasted lark has a slender bill is plumage is mainly plain and its tail is a bit longer. Its flight primary fathers are yellow brown as well as its tail wings. Its bill I black while its legs are yellow. The under parts are mainly yellow white with a few brown feathers. This bird has a body length of 15-16cm while its body weight averages around 23-26g. it feeds on insects mostly like termites and also seeds. The pink breasted lark makes a monotonous simple series of 6-8 squeaky notes. Accelerating and decelerating in pitch.
Red bellied parrot; This parrot has a grey upper body while the lower parts are a bright orange in males while they are green in the female species. The beaks of these birds are dark grey while their irises are red. The juveniles exhibit only a difference in the color of their irises which are dark instead of red. Now you might be wondering why you haven’t read anything like a red belly in the upper text but this mainly stems from the absence of a color name orange by the time this bird was named, yes its true, by then the English vocabulary didn’t have a color called orange hence anything that was orange was considered to be red by the English hence what should have been named as an orange bellied parrot got named red bellied parrot. Back to the bird now, it has a 23cm or 9in body length with an average body weight of 140g and 5oz.
Bare eyed thrush; The bare eyed thrush has its head, upper parts, breast area in a darker grey color, its belly is orange and what distinctively separates this bird from others is its bare orange eye patch. Its throat is white streaked with blackish feathers. The body length of 20-21.5cm and an average body weight of 45-55g. mainly insects especially catepilars, beetles and flies.
Pringle’s puffback; This bird has a blue black head crown, its throat is white as well as its belly, primary and secondary flight feathers are white and black while the back is of a puff coloration. The tail is also black, its iris is red orange. This bird has a body length of 13.5-14cm, and weigh 19-22.5g for the males while the femalesweigh 13-20g. their alarm call is low pithed, harsh and monotonous. It feeds on insects as well as caterpillars.
Activities in mkomazi national park in Tanzania
Mkomazi national park is endowed with a variety of wildlife that ranges from lions giraffe, cape buffaloes, zebras, wildebeest, leopards, cheetahs, wildogs, gazzales, topis, dik dik, elands, lesser kudus. 450 Bird species are found here include kori bustard, martial eagle, ostrich, pringle’s puffback, red bellied parrot, friedmann’s lark, black bellied sunbird, bare eyed thrush, eastern chanting goshawk, pink breasted lark and this akes it a perfect place to carry out activities like game drives, birding and nature walks
Game drives; With a wide range of wild game species such as lions giraffe, cape buffaloes, zebras, wildebeest, leopards, cheetahs, wildogs, gazelles, topis, dik dik, elands, lesser kudus. This makes Mkomazi National Park a wilderness best for game drives as you will suley see many of the mentioned wild game as you do a gme drive here.
Birding.; Mkomazi national park is endowed with about 400 bird species roaming the skies and plains of this African wilderness. Birds sighted here include include kori bustard, martial eagle, ostrich, pringle’s puffback, red bellied parrot, friedmann’s lark, black bellied sunbird, bare eyed thrush, eastern chanting goshawk, pink breasted lark.
Nature walks; These provide you with an opportunity to appreciate the nature at its best as you get to view and enjoy it from point blank range. This enables you to even sight and appreciate the small creatures like the insects that you wouldn’t normally see while on a game drive. Nature walks are also highly advisable for those doing birding as you can easily get close to birds that wouldn’t easily be sighted while on a game drive as they can fly away on hearing the revving engine of a safari 4×4 wheeler vehicle.
How to get to Mkomazi National Park Tanzania
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Accessing Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania
Mkomazi National Park can be accessed by both road and air transport means
Mkomazi National Park lies about 112km or 69miles south of Moshi and the journey to Mkomazi National Park is fairly comfortable as the road is for the major part is tarmacked.
International flights in Tanzania are mostly received at Kilimanjaro international airport in Arusha and Julius Nyerere airport outside Dar es salaam. From any of these airports you can easily get a domestic that can fly you to Mkomazi National Park and these will land you Mkomazi airstrip.
International Airlines that have flights to Tanzania airports include
Brussels airlines Fly emirates
Kenya airways Qatar arways
Accommodations in Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania
babu’s camp; 2.5-hour drive south east of Arusha. 5 large camp tents that come in double occupancy. all tents come with en suite facilities writing desk and private patio. restaurant, lounge area, camp fire
mambo view eco lodge; northern edge of usambara mountains. numerous lodging units that come in a studio tent, cottages, luxury tents camping site and mbokoi guest house. all guestrooms come with a private bathroom and a veranda and great views of the wilderness plains. restaurant, lounge area, laundry services
elephant motel; located ½ a km from same town. 20 guestrooms that come in double and triple occupancy. all guestrooms are fitted with private bathrooms satellite tv refrigerators and air conditioners. restaurant, lounge area, laundry services
lawns hotel; lushoto. 20 guestrooms that come double and triple occupancy. 20 guestrooms come with a private bathrooms. restaurant, lounge area, free wi-fii, spa, laundry services, on site garden. prices ranges from 23-85$
st eugenes hostel; lushoto. 20 rooms that come in single double and triple occupancy. all rooms come with private shower and writing desk and terrace. restaurant, lounge area, laundry service, free parking, housekeeping. price ranges from 38-50$
Orlando lodge; located 3km from same secondary school. numerous rooms that come in double occupancy. all rooms are fitted with private bathrooms. restaurant, lounge area
zebra camp bwiko town; located in bwiko village. cottages with twin beds and camping site. the cottages come with en suite services while the camp site has shared clean toilets. restaurant, lounge area, veranda
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