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. Researchers began studying Mahale’s chimpanzees, the largest population in the world, starting in the 1960s.

Quick Facts
  • Project: Mahale Conservation Project
  • Mahale National Park size: 1,613 km²
  • Mahale ecosystem size: 20,000 km²
  • Project leader: Magnus Mosha
  • Project start: 1986
A chimpanzee tracker (Baracka) in Mahale National Park. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
Lake, rainforest, and high mountains in Mahale National Park. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
Mahale project leader Magnus Mosha talking about the Greater Mahale system. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
A flower in Mahale National Park. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
A chimpanzee in Mahale National Park. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
A Community Conservation Bank (COCOBA) meeting in a village north of Mahale National Park. © 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 like this one. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
Children in a village just north of Mahale National Park. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
An FZS member answering questions at a COCOBA (Community Conservation Bank) meeting just north of Mahale National Park. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
A yellow baboon in Mahale National Park. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
A child in a village just north of Mahale National Park. © FZS/Daniel Rosengren
A chimpanzee in Mahale National 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)
  • Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism of Tanzania
  • Stiftung Eine Welt Eine Zukunft
Our partners

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Telephone: +49 (0)69 - 94 34 46 0
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You will find our office in the Zoogesellschaftshaus (4th floor).