Mavuradonha Mountains

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
The Mavuradonha mountains form the eastern part of the Zambezi Escarpment in Zimbabwe, rising over 1,000 m above the Zambezi valley and peaking at Banirembizi. The mountains lie north of the town of Centenary, falling within the Muzarabani District. The mountains intercept the north-east winds and have a cooler, moister climate than the valley below. ‘Mavuradonha’ refers to the rain and mist. There are numerous streams and rivers rising in the mountains, flowing north to the Zambezi. The terrain is steep and rocky with elephant trails winding up and down the mountain. In the east, the Musengezi river has cut a gorge through the mountains, creating attractive scenery. The area holds a great deal of well-developed miombo woodland, with most of the representative species of Brachystegia and Julbernardia. There are also gully, ravine or ‘kloof’ woodlands, with higher soil moisture and nutrients, providing a greater range of microhabitats. Large forest trees such as Khaya anthotheca occur, but are scattered and in low numbers.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 3 for key species. The mountains are known for their variety and density of raptors; atlas records show 38 species (including owls). Of particular interest are Hieraaetus ayresii, Stephanoaetus coronatus, Circaetus cinerascens, Falco peregrinus and F. naumanni. The Zambezian biome species (particularly those of the miombo) are well represented.

Non-bird biodiversity: The Wilderness Area is a refuge for Loxodonta africana (EN), Syncerus caffer (LR/cd), Panthera leo (VU) and a variety of antelope. The vegetation is poorly studied but it may hold some unusual species dependent on a high-moisture regime.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The Mavuradonha Wilderness Area covers c.575 km², forming a protected area between the Muzarabani Communal Land to the north and the Centenary Commercial Farming and Resettlement Areas to the south. The Muzarabani District Council, in conjunction with the Wildlife Society of Zimbabwe, run a small tourist camp. Revenues accrue to the Council through a CAMPFIRE project. The Wilderness Area is relatively well protected, and wildlife numbers are increasing. Elsewhere, the rugged terrain prevents access and exploitation, although there is felling of the larger trees and limited poaching. The CAMPFIRE initiative will hopefully assist in protecting the mountains from uncontrolled settlements and reduce the poaching.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mavuradonha Mountains. Downloaded from on 21/04/2021.