Decreases in wildlife particularly elephants and hippos, which play a key role in shaping the savanna vegetation through their grazing/browsing effects are leading to changes in plant communities. Meanwhile, as climate change together with forest clearance affects rainfall levels and temperatures, there is evidence that fruiting patterns of trees are being affected at some sites with a decline in fruit production, while some high altitude species may be lost as their habitat vanishes.
"One of the key findings is that most sites are not stable and that their ecology is changing meaning that conservation of the sites needs to be flexible and plan for these changes," said Plumptre. "Scientists and conservation practitioners in many disciplines will need to combine their efforts to ensure this biodiverse region is still conserving the unique species found here, such as the mountain and Grauer's gorillas, in the next 100 years."
The Albertine Rift is about the size of Maine, spanning some 33,700 square miles (87,500 km) across five countries. It contains more than half of Africa's bird species along with large numbers of amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. More threatened species are found in the Albertine Rift than any other region on the continentincluding critically endangered mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, and elephants. The region's mountains and forests provide many crucial resources to local people, such as clean water, fuel wood, and non-timber products such as rattan cane and honey, and draw a growing number of ecotourists.
|Contact: Stephen Sautner|
Wildlife Conservation Society