The site lies about 15 km north-west of the town of Lubango. Apart from the spectacular scenery, with sheer cliff-faces hundreds of metres high, the area includes patches of relict Afromontane forest in a mosaic of undifferentiated montane communities. Patches of Podocarpus milanjensis occur in deep humid ravines and at altitudes above 1,800 m (Huntley and Matos 1994), and there is open Protea savanna and montane grasslands, quartzite formations and bracken Pteridium on the top of the escarpment, thickets along streams, poorly drained grassy patches in valleys, and dry woodlands at the bottom of the altitudinal gradient, providing a large range of bird habitats within a relatively small area. Tree genera include Podocarpus, Pittosporum, Olea and Ilex on the higher elevations, with such species as Adansonia digitata and Acacia welwitschii at the bottom of the escarpment. There are small patches of miombo woodland (dominated by Brachystegia and Julbernardia) on sands on the plateau at the top of the escarpment.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Because of its proximity to Lubango and the bird and small-mammal collections at the former IICA, the site has been relatively well studied (in terms of species occurrence), but poorly studied in terms of the biology of the species that occur there. Among species of global conservation concern, Xenocopsychus ansorgei is common on rocky outcrops, Estrilda thomensis is frequent to locally common in dry woodlands below the escarpment, and Francolinus swierstrai probably occurs on the top of the escarpment (Pinto 1983), but no specimens have been collected. Two other restricted-range species, Dioptrornis brunneus and Nectarinia ludovicensis, are both common in the area, and probably breed. Several poorly known species occur, including Bradypterus lopezi (Pinto 1970) and Apalis cinerea in higher altitude forest patches. There are a number of species, including Apus bradfieldi and Apalis flavida, that are restricted to dry woodlands at the bottom of the escarpment. Other species of interest include Falco peregrinus, Lybius leucocephalus, Anthus lineiventris, Myrmecocichla nigra and Monticola brevipes (one of the few sites in Angola where this species occurs). Two species of the Kalahari–Highveld biome have been recorded at this site, as has one species of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome.
Non-bird biodiversity: No information is available on the mammal fauna.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
A protected area of 40 km² was proposed by Huntley (1974b), but was not established (Huntley and Matos 1994). No current research projects in the area are known. Clearing of woodland (using fire) for subsistence agriculture at the bottom of the escarpment was being done in the early 1970s and is probably still happening. The forests in the steep ravines are unlikely to be cleared, but the avifauna of the forest patches may be threatened by hunting (with dogs) and by runaway fires.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tundavala. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 23/03/2023.