Country/territory: Angola

IBA Criteria met: A1 (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 17,000 ha

Site description
This is a long sand-spit, c.35 km long, lying parallel to the coast, with the northern tip about 10 km south-west of Luanda. The area includes several small islands, one of which (the Ilha dos Passaros) lies between Mussulo and the mainland. The vegetation is dominated by mangroves (Rhizophora mangle, Laguncularia racemosa and Avicenna germinans), with low-growing saltmarshes (Sesuvium portulacastrum, S. mesembritemoides and Salicornia sp.) and intertidal flats (Loutchanski 199).

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. The site is important for aquatic birds, with 61 congregatory waterbird species (42% of Angolan list) recorded, some of which occur in numbers which are at least nationally significant. Morus capensis and Sterna balaenarum are frequent to common non-breeding visitors to inshore waters. Some general studies of the avifauna have been carried out (Günther and Feiler 1986) and a project that focused on the food of two waders, Numenius arquata and N. phaeopus, was recently done by a student at the Universidade Agostinho Neto in Luanda (Loutchanski 1997).

The lagoon and intertidal flats are important foraging areas for waders from the Palearctic moving south in the austral spring and returning in the late summer. All the Palearctic wader species that have been recorded in Angola have also (or have only) been recorded at Mussulo. This is one of the few sites on the Angolan coast where Phoenicopterus ruber frequently forages. There are nesting colonies of a number of species of herons and egrets and Threskiornis aethiopica on Ilha dos Passaros. Three species characteristic of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome, one of the Zambezian biome and one of the Kalahari–Highveld biome occur at the site.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mussulo. Downloaded from on 20/05/2022.