Kilimanjaro has three peaks (Kibo with 5895 m, Schira with 4000 m and Mawensi with 5270 m). It is the highest mountain in Africa. The national park covers 1800 km², a region with different forms of vegetation from savannah over mountain forest to highland moors and alpine tundra.
Kilimanjaro National Park: Facts
|Official title:||Kilimanjaro National Park|
|Natural monument:||forest reserve since 1921, national park since 1973; with a height of up to 5892 m (summit of Kibo), six forest corridors with an area of 753.53 km² and a surrounding forest reserve of 929.06 km²; volcanic massif with an area of 3885 km² and three volcanic peaks – Shira (3962 m), Kibo and Mawenzi (5149 m), between Kibo and Mawenzi on the so-called “saddle” largest plateau tundra area in Africa, two rainy seasons: Nov./Dec.; March to May|
|Location:||Northern Tanzania, between Moshi and the border with Kenya|
|Meaning:||the highest peak in Africa in a volcanic massif, surrounded by mountain forest|
|Flora and fauna:||predominant vegetation forms mountain forest, highland moor and alpine tundra; few species above 4600 m, but Helichrysum newii found at an altitude of 5760 m; also tree heather and the Proteus family Protea kilimandscharica, Senecio johnstonii cottonii, only occurring here above 3600 m and belonging to the genus ragwort, below the tree line stone beech species and tree ferns; Abbot duiker, crown duiker, eland, bushbuck, mountain reedbuck, an estimated 220 elephants, primates such as diademed monkey and Kilimanjaro guereza, as well as leopard and mountain forest tree hyrax|
Ice-cold glacier over hot savannah
Africa’s highest mountain rises from the gently undulating savannah like a monument, stimulating reflections on space and time. The mountains of the Kilimanjaro massif with the highest African peak, the Kibo, and the jagged height of the Mawenzi can be seen from all directions and from a great distance, with good visibility even from Kenya’s capital Nairobi, 225 km away. The glaciers on the peaks contrast with the savannah at the foot of the mountain, which is caught under the glow of the sun. In its huge dimensions, the massif looks like a symbol of eternity. One thinks that it must have always been there and that it would outlast our fast-paced present into infinity.
But is this impression correct? When Kilimanjaro was roughly in its present form 750,000 years ago, people were already living in its area. They had left the animal-human transition field behind and were already walking upright; our great-great-great-ancestors also made tools that they depended on to use for their survival. Their habitat was created three million years earlier, when volcanic forces were particularly active in East Africa and gave rise to the first volcanoes that were initially higher than today’s elevations. From the Mawenzi, which initially towered over the Kibo, the hard lava core, which now rises steeply into the sky, remained standing, while the chimney with the “ring wall” weathered and gradually disappeared. It is quite different with the Kibo: there the “ring wall” defied weathering; the bottom of the crater sank and formed a so-called “caldera”, a crater bowl two kilometers in diameter, on the bottom of which another, smaller bowl, the so-called “inner caldera”, was formed. Shira, the third volcano in this East African mountain range, which only died out 500,000 years ago, was gradually filled with lava flows and volcanic ash.
The typical vegetation belts of the mountains of Africa have an interesting peculiarity on Kilimanjaro: Although individual bamboo stands grow in places, a closed bamboo zone is missing. Incidentally, the vegetation in the mountain forest is very lush, and the plant species Stoebe kilimandscharica and Myrica meyeri-johannis that occur here thrive in the heather and moorland zone. When the alpine zone begins, whose barreness appears unreal in contrast to the lush green of tropical Africa, only mosses and lichens are to be found. Although Kilimanjaro is one of the driest mountains in Africa, it supplies the savannah at its foot and in the surrounding area, underground or in small, downward rushing rivers, with water that largely flows away from the undisturbed mountain forest belt, which is not influenced by humans.
Climbing the summit of Kilimanjaro does not require any special mountaineering experience, as the ascent is hardly difficult. However, the thin mountain air is a problem for most mountaineers. Encounters with animals are rather rare on the day-long ascent and descent, but their traces are omnipresent. Buffalo and forest duiker make their home in inaccessible parts of the mountain forests. Dozens of elephants find a safe refuge here, to which they temporarily immigrate from the surrounding plains, including Kenya’s Amboseli National Park according to findjobdescriptions.
In order to ensure that flora and fauna are preserved for future generations, seven usage zones were set up as part of a management plan, which allow alpine hikes of varying intensity, but also mountaineering. At the same time, however, it was ensured that a so-called »Wilderness Zone« of around 1500 km² was established. It is only a first step towards a permanent balance between nature conservation and human, and above all tourist, use of the national park. Its limits are at an altitude of 2700 m, and beyond these limits the population is growing continuously. There can be no question of the preservation of nature or the sustainable use of nature, because the landscape has changed irretrievably due to increasing urban sprawl. This situation also poses a great threat to the existing national park. The increasing drought also poses threats to the ecosystem. It was found that the glacier area shrank from 11.40 km² in 1912 to 1.76 km² in 2011.