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The Namba mountains: new hope for Afromontane forest birds in Angola


Afromontane forest is the most localised and threatened habitat type in Angola. For the past 40 years the estimate of the area covered by this habitat in Angola has been c.200 ha. At present, 85 ha remain at Mt Moco, the most important known site to date. This habitat holds 20 bird taxa of conservation significance but some are now rare or absent at Mt Moco. Given the small extent of forest, its high conservation value and the severe human impacts on it, finding new areas of Afromontane forest is a high conservation priority. With this objective, we visited the Namba mountains in July 2010, where c.100 ha was thought to remain in the 1970s, to establish the extent and condition of forest there and to conduct bird surveys. We found closed-canopy Afromontane forest with an abundance of Podocarpus latifolius and little human disturbance. We recorded 89 bird species, 56 in or adjacent to forest and including all 20 priority taxa and a significant population of the Endangered Swierstra’s Francolin Pternistis swierstrai. On-screen digitising of forest patches using Google Earth indicates that the larger patches are an order of magnitude larger than at Mt Moco and that there is currently > 590 ha of forest in the Namba mountains, more than trebling the previous national estimate. The site qualifies as a new Important Bird Area and is a high priority for inclusion in Angola’s protected area network.

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J. M Grimshaw . (2001) What do we really know about the Afromontane archipelago? Syst. Geogr. Pl. 71: 949957.

M. S. L. Mills and W. R. J Dean . (2007) Notes on Angolan birds: new country records, range extensions and taxonomic questions. Ostrich 78: 5563.

F. White (1978) The Afromontane region. Pp. 463513 in M. J. A. Werger , ed. Biogeography and ecology of southern Africa. The Hague: Junk.

F. White (1981) The history of the Afromontane archipelago and the scientific need for its conservation. Afr. J. Ecol. 19: 3354.

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Bird Conservation International
  • ISSN: 0959-2709
  • EISSN: 1474-0001
  • URL: /core/journals/bird-conservation-international
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