Country/territory: Angola

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 996,000 ha

Site description
Quiçama National Park extends along 110 km of the Angolan coast, with the estuary of the Cuanza river forming the north-western boundary of the park. It holds a diversity of bird habitats, including the most southerly patch of extensive mangrove forest in the country (in the Cuanza estuary), the extensive Cuanza flood-plain, dense communities of raffia palm Raphia on permanently waterlogged islands in the river, lowland riverine forests, rank flooded grassy patches, reedbeds, swamps and extensive sandbars along the Cuanza river, extensive grasslands on the plateau, dry baobab-acacia (Adansonia-Acacia) woodland in the east of the park, and patches of broadleaved woodland. Dense thickets of Chrysobalanus, Drepanocarpus, Dalbergia, Leguncularia and Hibiscus occur along the river upstream from the mouth (Huntley and Matos 1994). The flood-plain of the lower Cuanza river has extensive communities of papyrus Cyperus, with Typha, Echinochloa and Phragmites on the margins.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The avifauna has not been well-studied and the total number of species occurring at the site is likely to be higher than the 186 species that have been observed and collected. However, the park is relatively rich in globally threatened and restricted-range species. Phoenicopterus minor, Morus capensis and Sterna balaenarum are non-breeding visitors, the latter two in winter to inshore coastal waters. Francolinus griseostriatus, Platysteira albifrons and Euplectes aureus are frequently encountered residents, and probably breed. The avifauna of the eastern forest and lowland riverine forest in Quiçama is poorly known, but it is thought that some restricted-range species of forest may occur there, e.g. the globally threatened Laniarius brauni, which is a rare resident at Dondo, just outside the park boundary.

A total of 68 species of congregatory waterbird (47% of the Angolan list) have been collected in the area, and some occur in numbers that are at least nationally significant. The mudflats along the tidal mouth of the Cuanza river are important foraging areas for Palearctic waders in the austral spring and summer. The mudflats along the higher reaches of the river in the park are important foraging areas for Anastomus lamelligerus, Actophilornis africana, Rostratula benghalensis, Vanellus crassirostris and several species of rail (Rallidae). Part of the most southerly population of Pluvianus aegyptius, a species generally rare in Angola, occurs on sandbanks in the lower Cuanza river. The lakes along the Cuanza river support many waterbirds, and one of the few known nests of Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis in Angola is situated on the edge of Cacoba Lake in the park. Ciconia episcopus is frequently seen on Eragrostis grasslands on the coastal plateau of the park and have been recorded nesting in the park (Günther and Feiler 1986; Dean et al. 1988). Scotopelia peli roosts in gallery forest along the Cuanza river and Machaeramphus alcinus has frequently been observed hunting over the Cuanza river and in the park. Some species of more moist forests, e.g. Bias musicus and Laniarius luehderi, have been recorded from the dry forests on the eastern edge of the park. Four species of the Zambezian biome and one of the Kalahari–Highveld biome have been recorded in the park.

Non-bird biodiversity: The mammal fauna includes Trichechus senegalensis (VU), which occurs in the lower course of the river, and large carnivores such as Lycaon pictus (EN), Acinonyx jubatus (VU) and Panthera leo (VU) (Cabral 1987; Cabral and Simões 1988). Up to the early 1970s the park had fairly robust populations of Loxodonta africana (EN) (Huntley 1974a), but the current status of the large herbivore populations is not known. Marine turtles nest on the park coast (Huntley 1974a).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Quiçama. Downloaded from on 20/05/2022.