The Marungu highlands are situated to the west of the southern half of Lake Tanganyika in eastern DR Congo. The low-lying Mulobozi river, which flows into Lake Tanganyika just north of the town of Moba, separates the area into two main land masses, the smaller (northern) section (also called the Malimba mountains) rising to c.2,100 m and the larger (southern) section reaching c.2,460 m. The soil, derived from granitic or rhyolitic rocks, is generally poor in nutrients. The major habitats are rolling grassland (on the highest parts) and scrub (on the slopes) but there is some dense forest (including Parinari excelsa, Teclea nobilis, Polyscias fulva, Ficus storthophylla and Turrea holstii) in ravines and, more importantly, narrow remnants of riparian forest (with Syzygium cordatum, Ficalhoa laurifolia and Ilex mitis) along streams. There is a prolonged dry season; mean annual rainfall is c.1,200 mm, almost all of which falls in the period from October to April.
See Box and Table 3 for key species. Nectarinia prigoginei is restricted to the riparian forest of this site. Grus carunculatus and Crex crex have been recorded. In addition, two species of the Albertine Rift mountains EBA have been recorded at this site and one species of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome is likely to occur (see Table 3).
Non-bird biodiversity: The Marungu highlands are a centre of endemism for plants.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The site is used extensively for cattle-raising. Riparian forest patches throughout the Marungus are under severe threat from timber-felling and from the erosion of stream banks by cattle; their disappearance would result not only in the extinction of the montane bird populations, but also the destabilization of the water-supply on which ranching in the Marungus is dependent. Forests bordering the Mulobozi and Lufuko rivers above 1,500 m have been proposed as conservation areas.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Marungu highlands. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 07/03/2021.