Kitulo National Park is a protected area of montane grassland on the Kitulo Plateau in the southern highlands of Tanzania. The park is at an elevation of 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) between the peaks of the Kipengere and Poroto mountains and covers an area of 412.9 square kilometres (159.4 sq mi) lying in Mbeya Region and Njombe Region. The park is administered by Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and is the first national park in tropical Africa to be established primarily to protect its flora.
Locals refer to the Kitulo Plateau as “Bustani ya Mungu” (“The Garden of God”), while botanists have referred to it as the “Serengeti of Flowers”.
Protection of the Kitulo Plateau’s unique flora was first proposed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in response to the growing international trade in orchid tubers and increased hunting and logging activities in the surrounding forests. In 2002, President Benjamin Mkapa announced the establishment of the park. The park was formally gazetted in 2005, becoming Tanzania’s fourteenth national park. TANAPA has stated that the park could be expanded in the future to include the neighbouring Mount Rungwe forest.
In 2005, field scientists from the WCS discovered a new species of primate on and around Mount Rungwe and in the Livingstone Forest area of the park. Initially known as the Highland Mangabey, later changed to its Tanzanian name of Kipunji, it is one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world.
Mbozi Meteorite: World’s eighth largest, located about 65km southwest of Mbeya is the Mbozi meteorite, weighing an estimated 25 metric tonnes, it’s around 3m long and 1m tall.
Mbeya region is endowed with lots of tourist attractions although most of them have not been fully exploited. Some classic examples include those within the vicinity of the city such as Mbeya and Loleza Peaks and the Utengule and Mbozi meteorite
Weighing in at a cool 12 tons, the irregularly shaped Mbozi Meteorite – which lies on the southwestern slope of Marengi Hill, 70 kilometers west of Mbeya, off the road to Tunduma – is the world’s eighth largest known.
The meteorite is a fragment of interplanetary matter that was large enough to avoid being completely burned up when entering earth’s atmosphere.
But the fragment is small enough to avoid exploding; of the estimated five hundred meteorites that fall to earth each year, only thirty percent strike land, and less than ten are reported and recorded.
The Mbozi Meteorite has been known for centuries by locals, who call it Kimwondo, but the absence of legends recounting its sudden and undoubtedly fiery arrival indicate that it fell to earth long before the present inhabitants arrived, a thousand years ago. The meteorite was officially discovered in 1930 at the time when only the top was visible.
To reveal the whole meteorite, the hillside around it was dug away, leaving a pillar of soil under the meteorite, which was then reinforced with concrete to serve as a plinth. The irregular notches on the pointed end were caused by souvenir hunters hacking out chunks – no easy task given the strength of the nickel-iron of which it’s made.
Most meteorites consist of silicates or stony-irons, so Mbozi meteorite is uncommon in that it’s composed mainly of iron (90.45 percent) and nickel (8.69 percent), with negligible amounts of copper, sulphur and phosphorus.
A visit to the Meteorite Site is always fascinating especially if you are in a group and you travel using public transport as a means of getting a better taste of the countryside and face some adventures. This enables the group to also interact with the locals who are ever ready to share views with visitors.