Eastern Zimbabwe mountains

Country/Territory Mozambique,Zimbabwe
Area 12,000 km2
Altitude 800 - 2400m
Priority high
Habitat loss moderate
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

This EBA includes the isolated Mt Gorongosa in Mozambique and the mountains which follow the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The latter mountains extend from the Inyangani highlands in the north, which reach 2,592 m above sea-level, to the Chipinge uplands in the south, and include the Vumba and Chimanimani highlands, which rise to 2,436 m. These ranges mainly lie within Zimbabwe, other than the Chimanimani highlands, which are mostly on the Mozambique side of the border. The most important habitat for the restricted-range species is montane forest. Mt Gorongosa supports the largest block of this type of forest south of the Zambezi river (Oatley and Tinley 1987).

Restricted-range species

The distribution and habitat requirements of the restricted-range bird species are well known in Zimbabwe (see, e.g., Irwin 1979, 1981), but relatively poorly documented in Mozambique where there has been little recent ornithological survey work. All of the species occur in montane forest, although Prinia robertsi is often found in more open habitats. P. robertsi is endemic to the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe and adjacent Mozambique, and Apalis chirindensis to these mountains and Mt Gorongosa.

Species IUCN Category
Briar Warbler (Oreophilais robertsi) LC
Chirinda Apalis (Apalis chirindensis) LC
Swynnerton's Robin (Swynnertonia swynnertoni) VU

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
MZ006 Chimanimani Mountains (Mozambique) Mozambique
MZ008 Gorongosa Mountain and National Park Mozambique
ZW001 Nyanga mountains Zimbabwe
ZW002 Nyanga lowlands/Honde valley Zimbabwe
ZW003 Stapleford Forest Zimbabwe
ZW004 Bvumba Highlands Zimbabwe
ZW005 Banti Forest Reserve Zimbabwe
ZW006 Chimanimani Mountains (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe
ZW007 Haroni - Rusitu junction and Botanical Reserves Zimbabwe
ZW008 Chirinda Forest Zimbabwe

Threat and conservation

The montane forests of eastern Zimbabwe are currently well protected (Dowsett 1985, Muller and Timberlake 1992, M. P. S. Irwin in litt. 1993). In Mozambique, although extensive forests remain on Mt Gorongosa (Dowsett 1985), encroachment upwards by shifting cultivators into the montane forests is a chronic problem (Collar and Stuart 1988). Swynnertonia swynnertoni is threatened, because it is highly localized in distribution and its habitat is being lost on Mt Gorongosa and in some of the localities where it occurs in the Tanzania–Malawi mountains (EBA 105).

There are two large protected areas in the eastern mountains of Zimbabwe: Nyanga National Park in the Inyangani highlands, and Chimanimani National Park (IUCN 1992b). Mt Gorongosa is said by Dowsett (1985) to be within a national park, but this park is not listed by IUCN (1992b). There are also several important forest reserves in the EBA, including Chirinda forest (in the Chipinge uplands), at 6 km2 the largest example of moist evergreen forest in Zimbabwe (Banks 1976), and two reserves which total 120 km2 in the Chimanimani highlands of Mozambique (Muller and Timberlake 1992). The Vumba highlands in Zimbabwe contain numerous discontinuous relic patches of closed evergreen forest which are protected on private land, or where the ground is too steep or rocky for cultivation (Collar and Stuart 1988, M. P. S. Irwin in litt. 1993).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Eastern Zimbabwe mountains. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 17/10/2021.