Eastern Highlands

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"Eastern Highlands" also refers to Eastern Highlands Province in Papua New Guinea, and part of the Great Dividing Range, Australia.
Northern part of the Eastern Highlands range as seen from Nyanga town.

The Eastern or 'East African Highlands' is a mountain range in the east of Zimbabwe and one of four distinct physiographic divisions on the African continent.

The range forms Zimbabwe's eastern border with Mozambique and comprises three main mountain groups - Nyanga (to the north) which contains Zimbabwe's highest mountain Mount Nyangani, Africa's second-longest waterfall Mutarazi Falls and the Honde Valley which leads into Mozambique; Bvumba Mountains (centrally situated near the city of Mutare); and Chimanimani (to the south). These regions are all sparsely populated, highland country and are covered in rich grassland and forests.

The Highlands have a cooler and wetter climate than other parts of Africa with higher rainfall, low cloud and heavy mists and dew as moisture moves inland from the Indian Ocean. Many streams and rivers originate in these mountains, which form the watershed between the Zambezi and Save River systems.

The East African Highlands physiographic division consists of the East African Rift and Abyssinian physiographic provinces, so are part of the long chain of mountains that runs down East Africa and share much common plant and animal habitats with other mountain areas in the east of the continent.

Dominant Activities[edit]

  1. Agriculture and Tourism

Most of Zimbabwe's commercial agriculture, especially **forestry** and **horticulture** is practiced in the Eastern Highlands. The red fertile soils allow inhabitants and commercial farmers to grow potatoes, citrus fruits, flowers, pine trees, wattles and even mushroom for home consumption, and for sale. The Eastern Highlands have the densest forests in Zimbabwe. Covering vast expands of land, the exotic and indigenous forests create an ecosystem that, by binding soils, preserves pastures and the red soils from erosion. After making it to the top and setting your eyes from an altitude of about 1200 meters, you may be fascinated by seeing the thriving wildlife, the springs and some rarest vegetation in the region. Because of the amazing natural beauty, the Nyangani Mountain is often called, **The Queen of Beauty.** It is not a coincidence that Nyangani Mountain range and the Eastern Highlands boast some of the country's best tourist resorts. Here are a few:

+ **Nyanga National Park** + **Vumba Plateau** + **The Nyangani Mountain World View** + **Mutarazi falls** + **Christmas Pass** + **Chirinda Forest**</ref> Visit and Personal Experience

Fauna[edit]

This variety of different types of habitat results in a richness of animal life too. Animals found in the Highlands include blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis) the Samango Sykes' monkey, East African little collared fruit bat (Myonycteris relicta) and Marshall's pygmy chameleon (Rhampholeon marshalli). Many of these animals are found throughout East Africa.[1]

The highlands are also rich in birdlife[2] including trumpeter hornbill (Bycanistes bucinator), Knysna turaco (Tauraco corythaix), purple-crested turaco (Tauraco porphyreolophus), crested guineafowl (Guttera pucherani) and crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus). The forests are also full of butterflies, most notably swallowtails such as the emperor swallowtail (Papilio ophidicephalus) and the citrus swallowtail (Papilio demodocus) and the forest undergrowth in particular shelters a variety of reptiles including skinks, geckos, lizards, frogs, toads, and snakes.

Threats and preservation[edit]

The mountain forests are vulnerable to logging and the grasslands susceptible to fire and the rainforests, which by definition grow on well-watered fertile land, to clearance for agriculture. The moist climate is ideal for planting tea, coffee and hardwoods. However, much of the original vegetation remains, especially at higher altitudes, which are not suitable for farming. Large areas of the Highlands are protected, including the 171km2 Chimanimani National Park and Nyanga National Park.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Eastern Zimbabwe montane forest-grassland mosaic". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  2. ^ Ian Sincliar, Birds of Southern Africa, Struik Publishers 1996

Coordinates: 18°43′23″S 32°50′31″E / 18.723°S 32.842°E / -18.723; 32.842