Namizimu Forest Reserve

Site description (2001 baseline):

Site location and context
The Namizimu Hills are a little-known part of the country, sandwiched between the south-eastern end of Lake Malawi and the Mozambique border. The Mangochi–Namizimu escarpment (north-east of Mangochi town) marks the start of a large upland area east of the Rift Valley which extends into Mozambique and southern Tanzania. It encompasses a wide altitudinal range, rising steeply from the Lake shore plain (500 m) to Msondole peak (1,800 m), with some 10 hills reaching over 1,500 m. Lions still occur in this sparsely populated region (historically famous for its man-eaters). The main type of vegetation is Brachystegia (miombo) woodland, with also dense riparian forest, lake-shore thicket and small patches of montane rainforest (the main one, on Mapalamba Hill, measuring 32 ha).

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The provisional list is well over 200 species. The site is important for Dendropicos stierlingi, a Near Threatened species with an inexplicably restricted distribution in south-eastern Africa. Further exploration of the Namizimu woodland is necessary to assess the status of the woodpecker. Numbers of Alethe choloensis are likely to be few since the amount of available habitat is very small, c.40 ha. In Malawi Pogoniulus simplex is confined to this site and nearby Mangochi Mountain (MW013). Ardeola idae has been recorded as a vagrant.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: a small population of Loxodonta africana (EN) lives in the reserve. Butterflies: the unique Cooksonia aliciae is known only from here and Lepidochrysops auratus is apparently also endemic to the area. Two species reach southern limits: Cymothoe theobene and Acraea zonata.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Woodland in the reserve has been cleared locally, particularly on the lower escarpment near the Lake shore; some small villages have developed on higher ground and an attempt has been made to move them out. There is, however, still an enormous area of pristine woodland and riparian forest spanning a wide altitudinal range.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Namizimu Forest Reserve. Downloaded from on 27/02/2024.