With a size of 4471 km² Katavi NP contributes massively to nature conservation. It is the core of the western Tanzanian wildlife area and part of Katavi / Rukwa ecosystem with roughly 12 500 km². Rukwa and Lukwati are Game Reserves used for trophy hunting for foreign tourists. But also Ruaha / Rungwa protected area complex to the East and Mahale / Ugalla to the North contain similar vegetation types and are assumed to be connected via wildlife corridors.
Lake Rukwa, a huge shallow internal lake of varying size, is found South East of the protected area complex and is bordering Rukwa and Lukwati Game Reserves. Together with the surrounding hunting blocks and forest reserves this area is one of the biggest and richest wildlife areas in Tanzania.
- High habitat and species diversity with high concentrations of large mammals
- Extensive wetlands and important water catchments areas
- Wilderness character: The Katavi-Rukwa-Lukwati protected area complex still retains a distinct wilderness character.
- Interesting vegetation mosaic ranging from wetlands and lakes to riverine vegetation and various types of woodlands and shrublands (e.g. the woodlands of the inselbergs of Kapimbye, Kapapa and Igongwe)
- Home to some endangered and unusual species: wild dog, cheetahs (mostly seen in Mbuga ya Duma) roan and sable antelopes (e.g. in the woods of Ilumbi), eland (often encountered at lake Katavi, Kaselami Mbuga, the northern Chada plain, Kataukasi and Kakonje Mbugas)
- Historical and cultural resources: The Karema-Inyonga-Tabora slave route passed through the protected area complex. Stone age and iron age sites, sites of 19th century towns, Wamweru Hills and Katabi tree (14 km from the airstrip)