Lions, elephants and hippos have vanished from Kilombero valley after UK and US-funded projects helped turn a once-thriving habitat into farmland, teak, and sugar plantations

The long road from Dar es Salaam brings you through sparsely wooded hills and fields to the narrow northern neck of the Kilombero valley. There’s a bend in the road, then the land opens out, suddenly, in front of you.

Along the west side lie the steep-faced Udzungwa mountains, one of the last pristine rainforests in Tanzania. The Kilombero river runs through the red soils of the valley, flooding in November or December and subsiding by June. Down the longer eastern flank rise the Mahenge mountains, and beyond them, invisible, unfurls the vast territory of the Selous game reserve, one of the largest remaining chunks of African wilderness.

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