Mount Zulia

UGATIPA22
Mount Zulia

Country: Uganda

Administrative region: Northern (Region)

Central co-ordinates: 4.03769 N, 33.94883 E

Area: 929.7km²

Qualifying IPA Criteria

A(i)Site contains one or more globally threatened species, C(iii)Site contains nationally threatened or restricted habitat or vegetation types, AND/OR habitats that have severely declined in extent nationally

IPA assessment rationale

Zulia qualifies as an IPA under sub-criterion A(i), due to the presence of threatened taxa Tricalysia bagshawei subsp. bagshawei (VU) and Coffea neoleroyi (EN), the latter species limited only to this IPA nationally.

Site description

Zulia IPA is a located in the most northeasterly corner of Uganda, bordering both Kenya and South Sudan in Karamoja District. The IPA includes the extinct volcano Mount Zulia, the surrounding hills and areas of dry Combretum savannah in the Kidepo Valley. Altitudes vary from the ### towards the valley bottom and 2149 m at the peak of Mount Zulia. The hills southeast of Mount Zulia are continuous with the Didinga Hills extend through Eastern Equatoria in South Sudan and includes Mount Lotukei which lies adjacent to Mount Zulia across the border.

Botanical significance

Zulia IPA is of botanical significance as it hosts the only Ugandan population of the Endangered coffee species Coffea neoleroyi. This species was previously placed within the genus Psilotrichium and was recognised as a coffee species in 2010 (A. P. Davis 2010). Elsewhere, this species is known only from southwest Ethiopia and southeast South Sudan (A. Davis et al. 2023). Although several of these other localities are within protected areas, Boma National Park in South Sudan and in Ethiopia Maze and Omo National Parks, this species is threatened by habitat degradation through encroachment, burning and overgrazing. Threats around Zulia are not well documented and as such this C. neoleroyi was preliminarily assessed as Data Deficient nationally (A. Davis et al. 2023). Further research is urgently needed around Mount Zulia to identify the precise location and threats to the population at this site.
Another threatened taxon, the Vulnerable subspecies Tricalysia bagshawei subsp. bagshawei, has been recorded from this IPA. Collected at high altitude on Mount Zulia (Wilson #920), this is the northernmost known locality of this Ugandan near-endemic.
Mount Zulia and the surrounding hills have received little survey effort, with the only records from Mount Zulia appearing to be from the Wilson 1960 expedition. Unrest in the Karamoja Region and its position at both the South Sudan and Kenya borders, where cattle raids are common, may have limited access to the site (Cole 2015). With further survey effort, we may expect to find taxa such as the range restricted herb Euphorbia depauperata var. laevicarpa and the Vulnerable tree Prunus africana both of which have been recorded on neighbouring Mount Lotukei (Friis and Vollesen 1998), only 10 km northwest of Mount Zulia.
Alongside species of conservation importance, Mount Zulia hosts important areas of Afromontane undifferentiated forest. Although this habitat is largely limited to the highest ridges of Mount Zulia, Afromontane undifferentiated forest is nationally limited to drier mountain slopes and so Mount Zulia is one of only a few sites for this habitat nationally.

Habitat and geology

Mount Zulia is a large quartz-syenite intrusion in the surrounding plateau of granitic gneiss (Champion 1937; Scoon 2022). Much of the IPA is dominated by Combretum-Terminalia savannah-woodland mosaic, with more dense tree cover around the in sheltered, hilly areas and on the slopes of Mount Zulia (World Resources Institute 2023). Riverbanks within this habitat, particular among boulders, provide habitat for the rare and Endangered Coffea neoleroyi (A. Davis et al. 2023). At higher altitudes of Mount Zulia, above around 1800 m, are areas of Afromontane undifferentiated forest, amounting to 92,281 ha (NEMA, UWA, and NFA 2018). Langdale-Brown (1964) characterise this forest as Juniperus-Podocarpus forest, due to the presence of valuable timber species Juniperus procera and Podocarpus, likely P. milanjianus or Afrocarpus (formerly Podocarpus) gracilior. Syzygium guineense is common in the forests of neighbouring Mount Lotukei and nearby mountains in Uganda such as Mount Kadam (Friis and Vollesen 1998; Lwanga 1996) and may therefore be common in the forests of Mount Zulia. More survey effort is urgently needed to document the species within the entirety of this IPA.
Interestingly, there are records of brackish springs in the vicinity of Mount Zulia (Leeke 1917). We may therefore expect the presence of salt tolerant species in these areas.

Conservation issues

Zulia was established as a central forest reserve in 1950 while Kidepo Valley National Park, which covers much of the west of the IPA, was initially gazetted as game reserve in 1958 and subsequently upgraded to national park status in 1962 (Achieve Global Safaris 2024). Zulia CFR and Kidepo National Park both fall within the Kidepo Critical Landscape which is subject to UWA management plan (NEMA, UWA, and NFA 2018). Although there are no specific measures for the Zulia area, one of the measures within this plan is to “conduct inventories/assessment of key fauna and flora”. Botanical surveys of Mount Zulia and the surrounding hills would be particularly informative to better inform any conservation actions needed within this IPA.
Although Zulia is poorly studied, they host bird species including Brown Warbler (Curruca lugens) and Little Rock-thrush (Monticola rufocinereus) IBA and KBA based on bird species both of which are nationally limited to northeast Uganda only (BirdLife International 2024). Kidepo National Park has been recognised as an IBA and subsequently a KBA, based on the presence of Vulnerable species Karamoja Apalis (Apalis karamojae) (BirdLife International 2024; Plumptre et al. 2019).
Little is known about the threats to this site. Tree cover appears stable (World Resources Institute 2023) and although people live within this IPA, most notably Himaan village at the South Sudan border and Toposa communities on the slopes of Mount Zulia, the site appears to be sparsely populated and there does not appear to be much, if any, further expansion of homesteads or agricultural land (Google Earth 2023). The position of this IPA at the border of two other countries may make migration to this area, particularly of refugees, more likely in the future.

Ecosystem services

The site is an important watershed, including tributaries to the Kidepo River (UWA 2012). The vegetation likely stabilises soils and fixes carbon.
Toposa communities live on the slopes of Mount Zulia (E and J Tourism Consultants 2024), and the IPA may well provide important resources for these communities. The collection of other non-timber forest products such as foods and medicines has not yet been documented. Timber trees such as Podocarpus/Afrocarpus and Juniperus procera are present at the site, although there is no evidence of harvesting.
There are also tourist opportunities around Zulia, associated with Kidepo Valley National Park, including hiking, camping and wildlife spotting (E and J Tourism Consultants 2024).

Site assessor(s)

IPA criterion A species

Species Qualifying sub-criterion ≥ 1% of global population ≥ 5% of national population 1 of 5 best sites nationally Entire global population Socio-economically important Abundance at site
Coffea neoleroyi A.P.Davis A(i) True True True False True Unknown
Tricalysia bagshawei S.Moore subsp. bagshawei A(i) True False False False False Unknown

Coffea neoleroyi A.P.Davis

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
True
Abundance at site:
Unknown

Tricalysia bagshawei S.Moore subsp. bagshawei

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
False
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Unknown

General site habitats

General site habitat Percent coverage Importance
Forest No value Major
Savanna - Moist Savanna No value Minor
Savanna - Dry Savanna No value Major

Forest

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Savanna - Moist Savanna

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Savanna - Dry Savanna

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Land use types

Land use type Percent coverage Importance
Nature conservation No value Major

Nature conservation

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Conservation designation

Designation name Protected area Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Kidepo Valley National Park Key Biodiversity Area protected/conservation area overlaps with IPA No value
Kidepo Valley National Park Important Bird Area protected/conservation area overlaps with IPA No value

Kidepo Valley National Park

Protected area:
Key Biodiversity Area
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area overlaps with IPA
Areal overlap:
No value

Kidepo Valley National Park

Protected area:
Important Bird Area
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area overlaps with IPA
Areal overlap:
No value

Management type

Management type Description Year started Year finished
Site management plan in place Management plan for the wildlife dispersal corridors in the Kidepo critical landscape (Uganda) 2018 2027

Site management plan in place

Management plan for the wildlife dispersal corridors in the Kidepo critical landscape (Uganda)
Year started:
2018
Year finished:
2027

Bibliography

Plumptre, A. J., Ayebare, S., Behangana, M., Forrest, T. G., Hatanga, P., Kabuye, C., Kirunda, B., Kityo, R., Mugabe, H., Namaganda, M., Nampindo, S., Nangendo, G., Nkuutu, D. N., Pomeroy, D., Tushabe, H. & Prinsloo, S., 2019

Conservation of vertebrates and plants in Uganda: Identifying Key Biodiversity Areas and other sites of national importance

Conservation Science and Practice, Vol 1, page(s) 1-12 Available online

Langdale-Brown, I., Osmaston, H. A., & Wilson, J. G., 1964

The Vegetation of Uganda and its Bearing on Land-Use

Google Earth, 2023

Google Earth Pro 2023

World Resources Institute, 2023

Global Forest Watch 2023

Available online

Lwanga, J., 1996

Moroto, Kadam and Napak Forest Reserves Biodiversity Report: Trees and Shrubs

Davis, A.P., Kiwuka, C., Faruk, A., Mulumba, J. & Kalema, J., 2023

A review of the indigenous coffee resources of Uganda and their potential for coffee sector sustainability and development.

Frontiers in Plant Sciences, Vol 13.1057317

Achieve Global Safaris, 2024

History of Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo National Park Available online

BirdLife International, 2024

Important Bird Area Factsheet: Kidepo Valley National Park

Available online

Champion, A.M., 1937

Physiography of the Region to the West and South-West of Lake Rudolf

The Geographical Journal, Vol 89, page(s) 97-118 Available online

Davis, A.P., 2010

Six species of Psilanthus transferred to Coffea (Coffeeae, Rubiaceae)

Phytotaxa, Vol 10, page(s) 41-45 Available online

E and J Tourism Consultants, 2024

Mount Zulia

Inside Kidepo Valley National Park Available online

Friis, I. & Villesen, K., 1998

Flora of the Sudan-Uganda border area east of the Nile. Catalogue of vascular plants, 1st part

Biologiske Skrifter 51:1, Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab

NEMA, UWA & NFA, 2018

Management Plan for the Wildlife Dispersal Corridors in the Kidepo Critical Landscape (Uganda) 2018-2027

Scoon, R., 2022

Geological Highlights of East Africa’s National Parks

UWA, 2012

Kidepo Valley National Park General Management Plan 2012-2022

Recommended citation

(2024) Tropical Important Plant Areas Explorer: Mount Zulia (Uganda). https://tipas.kew.org/site/mount-zulia/ (Accessed on 21/05/2024)