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Tanzania’s ‘national’ grasshopper

The Uluguru Nature Reserve in the Uluguru range of mountains in Morogoro, Tanzania is one of the country’s tourist attractions being developed for its unique natural attractions — mostly montane animals, birds and insects.

The star attraction of the reserve is the Uluguru grasshopper, Cyphocerastis uluguruensis — dubbed “December Ninth” after the country’s Independence day — only found at Chenzema towards the Bondewa peek.

The grasshopper was given the name “December Ninth” because it has the same colours as the flag of Tanzania. However, it is not known whether the species existed before the country became independent on December 9th, 1961.

Some residents of Uluguru believe that the creators of the Tanzanian national flag copied the colours from the grasshopper.

Uluguru Nature Reserve conservator Cuthbert Mafupa said the reserve has been attracting visitors from across the world because of its unique flora and fauna such as the flying frogs, three horned and one-horned chameleons, St Pauline flowers, various species of songbirds, and the “floating grass” used as stepping stones to wade through the fresh water springs on the mountain slopes.

Another attraction is the waterfall at Bunduki, a hiker’s paradise.

The Uluguru range is part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, a chain of ancient forested mountains stretching from Kenya to Malawi through eastern Tanzania that rise to 2,630 metres above sea level at its highest point.

Unique species of animals and plants thrive in these isolated massifs, including more than 500 endemic plant species and numerous animals.

The Eastern Arc Mountains are listed as a global biodiversity hotspot by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

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