Influence of livestock grazing on range condition in south-west Masailand, Northern Tanzania.
Range condition was assessed in a semiarid 2265 km2 area of Tanzania grazed by cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys and a range of game wildlife. Primary production was estimated from grazed and ungrazed (livestock excluded for 8 years) areas. Vegetation structure and composition and soil stability were assessed in 3 zones of the study area. 215 vascular plant species were recorded. Cynodon plectostachyus and Cenchrus ciliaris were more abundant in ungrazed plots than in grazed ones, whereas Pennisetum mezianum, Perotis patens, Eragrostis superba, Sporobolus cordofanus and Panicum massaiense were more common on grazed plots. The standing herbage biomass and canopy height were positively correlated with rainfall. Soil erosion was generally moderate but was severe where cropping limited grazing to small areas which became overstocked. Overall range condition was classified as good to fair; to improve condition it was recommended that pastoral lands should be protected from cropping and that range management based on traditional practices should be developed to include controlled burning.