From the Serengeti to the sea

Tanzania is a large country in East Africa bordering the Indian Ocean and well known for its iconic wildlife, national parks and World Heritage sites. Home to the Serengeti wildebeest migration, Ngorongoro Crater, Mount Kilimanjaro and Selous Game Reserve (not to mention an array of rich marine and coastal ecosystems including  estuaries, reefs and mangroves),there is no doubt about Tanzania’s importance in the global conservation arena.

Over a thousand bird species are found in Tanzania, and the country has nine Endemic Bird Areas. It is also home to important populations of many iconic and threatened species including black rhino, elephant, common chimpanzee, African wild dog and cheetah. Offshore, Tanzania also supports a rich diversity of marine life including manta rays and the gargantuan whale shark.

Although over 40% of Tanzania’s land is protected in some way, much of its wildlife is found outside the borders of formal protected areas. With the country developing rapidly, this puts biodiversity in direct competition with humankind for space and resources, with habitat loss threatening many species. Illegal logging and poaching also abound, while unsustainable and damaging fishing practices threaten the country’s precious coral reefs – critical ecosystems for the East African coast.

Tanzania facts
Africa Country in Africa

Size (land & water)

947,300 km²

Population (2016 est.)


GDP per capita (2016 est.)



Tanzania is located in Africa. It is bordered by Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the DRC, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and the Indian Ocean.


of Tanzania’s land is protected or conserved in some way.


out of 25 globally recognised biodiversity hotspots are found in Tanzania.

Our work to protect Tanzania’s biodiversity

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has been working in Tanzania since the early 1990s when we began a project to save the Pemba flying fox from extinction. At that time, fewer than 5,000 were estimated to remain, and they were under severe threat from hunting and habitat loss. Working closely with communities and the Department of Commercial Crops, Fruits and Forestry, FFI monitored bat roosting and helped to raise awareness about the threats to this culturally important species.

As a result, communities took the bats’ protection into their own hands, establishing local by-laws to protect roost sites from disturbance and prevent hunting. FFI continued to support these efforts for over a decade, while the bat population gradually recovered. Today, the Pemba flying fox population exceeds 28,000 – a stunning conservation success.

Other work in recent years has included supporting the sustainable management of the African blackwood (mpingo) – a highly valuable timber species used to make musical instruments. Through sustainable certification, this project not only improved forest management but also enabled communities to benefit from sustainable management, as they were able to charge a premium for responsibly sourced timber.

Today, our work in Tanzania is focused back on Pemba Island – this time concentrating on improving the sustainability of fisheries within the island’s highly biodiverse waters. We have been working with local fishers’ committees to raise awareness about the importance of marine biodiversity and have provided training and support for these local institutions. As a result, people are now taking a more active role in managing their local waters, carrying out voluntary patrols of their fishing grounds and informing the authorities of illegal fishing activity observed – another win-win for people and biodiversity.

FFI also works with our local partner to conserve part of the Greater Mahale forest ecosystem in north-west Tanzania, where fewer than 2,500 of Tanzania’s remaining chimpanzees reside. Snaring, forest fires, uncontrolled grazing, logging and – in particular – encroachment by farming and settlements threaten the viability of the chimpanzee population as well as the forest’s overall biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides for local people.

The villages Mgambazi and Lugonesi, which own part of the forest, have guarded it from encroachment and habitat loss since 2012 when they mandated local community-based organisation, the Tongwe Trust, to help them manage and secure their village land and natural resources. Together with Tongwe Trust, we have succeeded in establishing forest patrols to address threats, as well as helping to secure local land rights.