Gorongosa mountain is a massive inselberg rising out of the coastal plain. Habitat consists of Brachystegia woodland on the lower slopes, dense evergreen forests at altitudes between 1,200 and 1,500 m, and montane grassland at the summit, with forest patches in the ravines. Many of the lower slopes have been cleared for agriculture, but the higher reaches constitute a sacred site for local inhabitants and, as such, enjoy some measure of protection. The adjoining national park consists of a large plain with deciduous woodland and extensive marshes and lakes.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Gorongosa mountain makes up less than 10% of the extent of this site, but is the most important part because most of the species which are of conservation interest are concentrated here. Swynnertonia swynnertoni, Apalis chirindensis and Anthreptes reichenowi are resident in the evergreen forests, while the montane grassland may hold Hirundo atrocaerulea, although this has not been confirmed yet. The mountain is widely known as the only locality where Oriolus chlorocephalus occurs in southern Africa. Three species of the Zambezian biome occur at the site. The wetlands in the National Park have not been comprehensively surveyed, and may support numbers of waterbirds which exceed 1% threshold levels. Gallinago media has been reported here and the wetlands are possibly an important wintering ground for the species. Balearica regulorum, which is threatened within southern Africa, occurs regularly in the wetlands.
Non-bird biodiversity: The plains supported high numbers of larger mammals in the past, including Loxodonta africana (EN). These have been extirpated by hunting but reintroductions are planned.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gorongosa Mountain and National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/07/2020.