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At the western tip of Tanzania, on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, lies a mountainous region boasting chimpanzees and rich biodiversity. The Greater Mahale Ecosystem, with the Mahale Mountains National Park at its core, contains a mosaic of overlapping montane forest and mountain grasslands at higher altitudes. It is an integral part of the globally recognized Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot. Here, tropical rainforest animals, savannah and miombo woodland species such as elephants, and unique aquatic species are at home. It is also the habitat of Tanzania’s largest population of chimpanzees and as such a good place for scientific studies, which started in the 1960s.

Quick Facts
  • Project: Mahale Ecosystem Management Programme
  • Mahale National Park size: 1,613 km²
  • Mahale ecosystem size: 20,000 km²
  • Support since: 1985
  • Project leader: Magnus Mosha
How do we know how many Chimpanzees are in Mahale and where they are? Our trackers keep tabs on them, such as this FZS employee. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
The Greater Mahale Ecosystem, contains a mosaic of overlapping montane forest and mountain grasslands at higher altitudes. It is an integral part of the globally recognized Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
In Mahale tropical rainforest animals, savannah and miombo woodland species such as this bushbuck are at home. © Carole Boag/FZS
Volunteer rangers from the communities around the nearby Tongwe West Forest Reserve helping to take care of the protected area with support from FZS. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
Mahale boasts one of the world’s largest population of chimpanzees. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
The Mahale project has a long history of supporting the formation and successful operation of COCOBA savings and loans groups. In 2018 there were 71 COCOBAs in the area. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
Mahale National Park extends 1.6 kilometers out into Lake Tanganyika. The lake is world-famous for its numerous species of cichlids such as this one. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
Illegal fishing nets, such as nets with holes that are too small or non-biodegradable nets are confiscated by FZS partner Beach Management Unit (BMU) in Katumbi, just north of Mahale National Park. © Daniel Rosengren / FZS
The Mahale Mountains National Park on the shores of Lake Tanganyika is the core of the Greater Mahale Ecosystem (GME). This is globally recognized as a biodiversity hotspot. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
Mahale National Park is home to ten species of primates including yellow baboon. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
For many years the Mahale ecosystem had been protected by its remote location, but the health of this diverse natural environment and the well-being of its people are threatened by extreme poverty and a rapidly growing human population. FZS and partners are supporting the management, monitoring, and protection of Mahale Mountains National Park with a holistic ecosystem-wide Population, Health, and Environment approach. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
Researchers have been studying Mahale’s chimpanzees since the 1960s. Recent camera trap observations show chimps moving at midnight, this was a new recording for the park. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren

How we support the Mahale ecosystem

Park support

For many years the Mahale Mountains National Park has been protected by its remote location in western Tanzania. Our support of the development of this park concentrates on infrastructure and equipment.

  • Development and implementation of a General Management Plan for Mahale Mountains National Park
  • Development and implementation of the Mahale Ecosystem Management Plan
  • Carrying out ecological research and assessment of the wider Mahale ecosystem
  • Support of tourism development and management
  • Training on environmental education

Community empowerment

As the population around the National Park grows rapidly, we are working to promote sustainable livelihoods that benefit both local people and the environment. Our activities include:

  • Community Conservation Banks: With a membership of more than 2,200 people, of which 70% are women, contribute to a group loan and saving scheme for conservation compatible activities
  • Village land use mapping and planning
  • Forest monitoring and protection under participatory forest management
  • Improving livelihood security in target villages
  • Environmental education
  • Supporting community-based natural resource management and conservation-compatible development activities

Management support

Expanding protection to include a larger part of the Mahale ecosystem is a challenge involving integrating conservation activities with development. There is a management plan for the wider Mahale ecosystem, the implementation of which we support. Additionally, we are carrying out ecological research to support assessments of the ecosystem.

Working with Tanganyika District, we have gathered village agreements and documentation for the upgraded protection of the Tongwe West Local Authority Forest Reserve. The Mahale Katavi corridor has recently been surveyed and information is being used to protect the wildlife corridor identified there.


Successful conservation is always the result of great teamwork. We collaborate with local communities, national authorities, and conservation organizations. Our partners make our conservation work possible.

  • Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA)
  • https://www.maliasili.go.tz/sectors/category/wildlifeWildlife Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism of Tanzania
  • Stiftung Eine Welt Eine Zukunft
Our partners

Tanzania news

  • Nyerere – Selous – Mikumi Ecosystem Aerial Wildlife Survey Results

  • In Loving Memory of Captain Bernard Michael Shayo

  • In Loving Memory of Aman Mgogollo


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