The site consists of the coastal plain lying between the Futi Channel and the Indian Ocean at the south end of the Bay of Maputo. It consists of a mosaic of forest, woodland, grassland, marshes and lakes. It forms the northern end of the IUCN-listed Maputaland Centre of Plant Endemism. The forest and woodland habitats are also represented in conservation areas in the adjacent part of South Africa, but it is only in this reserve that significant areas of the grassland habitats are protected. The impact of human activity in the area to date has been light, and much of the reserve is pristine. Between 500 and 1,300 inhabitants practise agriculture and fishing, under the control of reserve authorities.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Gyps coprotheres breeds nearby at the Changelane river gorge (IBA MZ002). It has not been reported at this IBA, although the reserve lies well within the foraging range of the species—the present low numbers of large mammals provide few foraging opportunities for it. Zoothera guttata has recently been discovered here and may be a breeding resident. Circaetus fasciolatus is a breeding resident, as is Nectarinia neergaardi, which is also a near-endemic to southern Mozambique, with more than 5% of its global population occurring at this site. Another restricted-range species here is Cercotrichas signata, of the South African forests EBA (EBA 089). The site also holds three species of the Zambezian biome and one of the Afrotropical Highlands biome (see Table 3). The extensive marshes and flooded grasslands hold notable numbers of rails/crakes and other marshland species, including Balearica regulorum and Turnix hottentota, while the lakes support large numbers of waterbirds (including Pelecanus onocrotalus and Mycteria ibis) on an irregular basis.
Non-bird biodiversity: The population of elephant Loxodonta africana (EN) is c.150.
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Maputo Special Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/07/2019.