Banti Forest Reserve

Country/territory: Zimbabwe

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

Area: 1,800 ha

BirdLife Zimbabwe

Site description
Banti Forest (22.2 km²) is south of the Bvumba Highlands, across the Burma valley. It forms part of the international boundary with Mozambique and is bounded by commercial farms and resettlement farms. It is not easily accessible, but can be reached via dirt roads from Himalaya Police Station, about 30 km east from the Mutare–Chimanimani road. There are landmines along the border, the exact placement of which is not known. Banti Forest is administered by the Forestry Commission. There is no infrastructure and the area is used only for cattle-grazing by nearby farmers. There are about five peasant families resident in the south-west corner of the Forest Land.

The mountains of Banti, Tsetsera and the Himalayas rise steeply from the Burma valley, peaking at 1,984 m and 2,211 m outside the forest, and give rise to rivers draining eastwards into Mozambique. There are several cliff-faces and an escarpment that run into Mozambique. The eastern slopes and highest points receive orographic rainfall, presumably similar in volume to that of the Bvumba. The vegetation consists of montane short grassland, with patches of montane forest on scree slopes and in high valleys. There are a few small patches of wetter forest, where Afrocrania is co-dominant with Ilex and Olea. The drier forest contains Podocarpus with Schefflera, Maesa and Ilex. Banti was originally designated as Forest Land because it has the best population of Podocarpus in Zimbabwe. Towards the west, the grassland gives way to well-developed Brachystegia woodland.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Fifty-one species were collected here in 1962 and 1973. The area was also investigated in the 1970s. Since then there have been no extensive surveys, as the area was inhospitable during Zimbabwe’s Independence War, and until the recent peace accord in Mozambique. A brief field trip (two days) in March 1997 listed 48 species, but did not record Hirundo atrocaerulea, although the habitat appeared suitable.

Non-bird biodiversity: There is little information on other important montane species. The 1997 field trip identified 27 species of terrestrial and epiphytic orchid. There is an endemic butterfly, Mylothris carcassoni.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Banti Forest Reserve. Downloaded from on 25/09/2022.