People in Tanzania Photo
©Tim Davenport
Tanzania Frog Photo
©Tim Davenport
Tanzania Landscape Photo
©Tim Davenport

Tanzania has unparalleled wildlife and abundant natural resources, and is probably the most biodiverse nation on mainland Africa. With spectacular landscapes, Tanzania encompasses the continent’s highest point—Mt. Kilimanjaro—and its deepest lake, Lake Tanganyika. Tanzania provides habitat for concentrations of large herbivores, various carnivores, rare birds and amphibians, and unique wild orchids. The country is also home to Africa’s most newly discovered monkey, the kipunji.

Fast Facts

  • Zanzibar Archipelago of Unguja and Pemba Islands provide habitat for three notable Tanzanian species: the endemic Zanzibar red colobus monkey, Pemba flying fox, and the continent’s rarest forest antelope, Ader’s duiker.
  • Tarangire National Park supports one of the highest densities of large ungulates in East Africa, in addition oryx, lesser kudu, and the largest population of elephants in northern Tanzania (now numbering close to 2,500).
  • The wildlife in Tarangire migrate on a seasonal basis, leaving the relative safety of the park and dispersing onto neighboring lands in search of mineral-rich forage. Much of this land belongs to the pastoral Maasai communities, who do not traditionally hunt wild animals and have coexisted with the migrating herds.
  • The Southern Highlands in the country’s remote southwest, are home to dozens of endangered and/or endemic species including Abbott’s duiker, the kipunji, chimpanzees, rare birds, and numerous species of orchids. Twelve new vertebrate species have been discovered there during the last five years alone.
  • The kipunji, discovered in 2003, is the first new monkey genus discovered in Africa in more than 80 years and is extremely rare. As of last count, the population numbered 1,117.
  • The Ruaha River, which arises in the Southern Highlands, is the country’s most important waterway, a key fishery that also provides 70 percent of Tanzania’s electricity and nourishes an ecosystem vital to the area’s wildlife and to millions of people.


The main challenges include poverty, education, human and wildlife health concerns, population growth, unsustainable resource extraction (including the international trade in orchids) and development pressures, governance issues, and modest technical and financial resources. During the past two decades there have been steady changes in land use in parts of Tanzania due to pressures from habitat destruction, agricultural expansion, and increased energy demands. As a consequence, many of the main wildlife migration routes have disappeared entirely, and those that remain are threatened.

Crop raiding by elephants is an increasing problem, and with demand for cultivated land escalating, people are now farming closer to park boundaries. This results in increased human-wildlife conflicts.

WCS Responds

WCS has been working in Tanzania since 1956, including on more than 140 projects involving training, research, monitoring, institutional support, education, reforestation, and planning. WCS has played a key role in the creation of national parks including Arusha (1962), Ruaha (1964), Tarangire (1968), Lake Manyara (1989), and Kitulo (2002). WCS is helping develop community-based initiatives through which local people will benefit from key habitats and have an interest in their long-term survival and integrity.

WCS has been responsible for the discovery of 12 new species in the last five years (including the kipunji) and detailed studies of Abbott’s duiker, cheetah, and chimpanzee. WCS runs a national elephant management project; a carnivore project; a wildlife corridor project; a postgraduate scholarship program; a climate change project; a GIS and remote sensing program; and four landscape projects (in the Southern Highlands, the Tarangire-Simanjiro Ecosystem, the Ruaha Landscape, and Zanzibar).

WCS Projects

Villages Protect Migratory Paths in Tanzania

To accommodate the needs of wildlife, ecosystems, and people, WCS is working with the Tanzanian government, tour operators, and communities around Tarangire National Park to preserve wildlife and livestock migrations.

From the Newsroom

Primate ParadiseJuly 16, 2013

Tanzania is home to 27 species of primates—a third of which are found nowhere else on Earth. A new conservation plan would create “Priority Primate Areas” to protect the baboons, colobus, and others, along with their habitats.

An Investment in Stripes and RibbitsFebruary 9, 2012

In a big boost for wildlife, 23 new species conservation projects will receive funding from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the World Bank, and the Global Environment Facility.

Meet MatildaJanuary 9, 2012

WCS and the Museo delle Scienze of Trento, Italy discover a spectacularly colored new snake. Named Matilda’s horned viper, the snake is restricted to remote forest in southwest Tanzania.

Rescued Cheetahs Set Free in Tanzania April 27, 2011

A team of conservationists has released three adult cheetahs, rescued from the hands of an illegal wildlife trader, into Tarangire National Park in Tanzania.

For Dolphins, Chemistry Is in the WaterMarch 25, 2011

‘Invisible’ barriers within the western Indian Ocean are keeping populations of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins from intermingling. New research advises conservation plans to take environmental conditions such as currents into consideration.


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