South-east African coast

Country/Territory Eswatini,Malawi,Mozambique,South Africa,Zimbabwe
Area 87,000 km2
Altitude 0 - 200m
Priority high
Habitat loss unquantified
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

This EBA includes the broad coastal plain of southern Mozambique, northern Natal and the south-eastern extreme of Transvaal in South Africa, and eastern Swaziland. It corresponds to the southern part of the Zanzibar–Inhambane East African coastal mosaic (White 1983). On this sandy plain there is dune forest along the coast, together with a mixture of palm savanna, bush-clump savanna, secondary scrub, riparian forest, wetland vegetation types and sand forest, and Acacia thornveld as another component further inland (Acocks 1988). Some of the restricted-range species occur inland along the valleys of some of the larger rivers, including the Shire river in extreme southern Malawi and several tributaries of the upper Save river in south-east Zimbabwe. This EBA overlaps with the northern coastal section of the South African forests (EBA 089), but the restricted-range species of that EBA are confined to evergreen forest.

Restricted-range species

The restricted-range birds occur in a variety of wooded and open habitats, but not in evergreen forest. Their distribution and status remain poorly known in Mozambique (Clancey 1971)-which is one of the least-known countries ornithologically in south-central and southern Africa (Dowsett 1985)-but are relatively well documented in the South African part of the EBA (Cyrus and Robson 1980, Tarboton et al. 1987). Apalis ruddi and Serinus citrinipectus are recorded from southern Malawi, and S. citrinipectus from south-east Zimbabwe.

Species IUCN Category
Rudd's Apalis (Apalis ruddi) LC
Neergaard's Sunbird (Cinnyris neergaardi) NT
Pink-throated Twinspot (Hypargos margaritatus) LC
Lemon-breasted Canary (Crithagra citrinipectus) LC

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
MW021 Lengwe National Park Malawi
MZ001 Maputo Special Reserve Mozambique
MZ002 Changelane river gorge Mozambique
MZ003 Panda Brachystegia woodlands Mozambique
MZ005 Pomene Mozambique
SZ002 Hlane and Mlawula Game Reserves Eswatini
ZA038 Ndumo Game Reserve South Africa
ZA039 Kosi Bay system South Africa
ZA041 Phongolo Nature Reserve South Africa
ZA043 Mkuzi Game Reserve South Africa
ZA044 Lake St Lucia and Mkuze Swamps South Africa
ZA046 Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park South Africa
ZW018 Limpopo - Mwenezi flood-plain and pans Zimbabwe
ZW020 Save - Runde junction Zimbabwe

Threat and conservation

Coastal forest is probably the most immediately threatened forest type in Mozambique (Dowsett 1985). The whole of Maputo province is under pressure from requests for logging concessions, and a 300-km2 proposed eucalyptus plantation adjacent to the South African frontier could have significant hydrological and other impacts (J. Oglethorpe in litt. to J. Fanshawe 1995). In South Africa, the main pressures are a result of the increasing human population, including the loss of natural habitats resulting from commercial forestry and slash-and-burn agriculture. However, plans for strip mining of coastal dunes for mineral sands at Lake St Lucia have been abandoned in the face of public protest (Barnes 1996). Despite these pressures, extensive areas of suitable habitats remain, and none of the restricted-range birds is classified as threatened.

There are approximately 15 protected areas in the EBA which contain habitats suitable for the restricted-range birds; all of these are in the southern part of the EBA and there is only one in Mozambique (IUCN 1992b, D. G. Allan in litt. 1993, A. Berruti and R. Taylor in litt. 1993). In this part of South Africa there has recently been a considerable increase in the amount of land managed for conservation and/or sustainable utilization, as practised in the reserves protected by the Natal Parks Board, the KwaZulu Bureau of Natural Resources and some private concerns (A. Berruti in litt. 1993).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: South-east African coast. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 08/02/2023.