Mangochi Mountain is a prominent landmark, rising to a peak of 1,742 m, only 23 km east of the low-lying Shire river. As with Namizimu (MW012), this Forest Reserve covers a wide altitudinal range, rising from the Lake shore plain (500 m) on the south-western side, near the eastern shore of Lake Malombe. The upper limit of miombo woodland is 1,400–1,450 m; above this, the area of forest and rocky grassland covers c.1,400 ha, of which 230 ha is montane forest (at 1,550–1,700 m). On the rocky substrate the forest is rather stunted and dry, with a canopy mainly below 20 m (Albizia–Craibia–Chrysophyllum-Ficus, etc.) and very few epiphytes. Elephants have opened up paths through the Acanthaceae thickets of the understorey.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. About 150 species have been recorded, but more are expected to occur; the forest is well known, but the woodland on the western slopes has not been well documented. The site is proposed mainly for the presence of Dendropicos stierlingi in the woodland and Alethe choloensis in the forest. The status of the woodpecker (reported so far from the eastern side of the mountain) needs further study; the alethe occurs only at low densities (fewer than 1 pair/10 ha?) as the forest is rather dry. Mangochi is at the southern limit of distribution of Pseudoalcippe abyssinica.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: the reserve is visited seasonally by a small population of Loxodonta africana (EN); its present status is uncertain. It is the only Malawi locality for the bat Otomops martiensseni.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Population pressure around the reserve is high. The forest has remained relatively unscathed because of the buffer belt of woodland. Dry-season fires have occasionally caused some damage. The status of the woodland, especially on the more extensive western slopes, needs further study, but it appears remarkably intact on the eastern slopes, where it is protected by some estates.