Survey in Chimanimani reveals more than 1,000 animal and plant species

231 bird and 42 mammal species, including a bat new to Mozambique, were among the species found over a two-week period.

More than 1,000 animal and plant species have been discovered by researchers in a section of the Chimanimani Conservation Area, including a number of species new to Mozambique and several species potentially new to science.

The findings followed a two week biodiversity survey in late 2018 in the understudied Chimanimani Conservation Area in Manica Province and underscore the importance of protecting this rich, biodiverse landscape from threats including mining and logging.

As well as the birds and mammals, the team (which consisted of visiting specialists and students of the Gorongosa BioEd MSc programme) found 42 species of mammal, 231 species of bird, 22 species of amphibian, 45 species of reptile, over 450 insect and 176 plant species. One bat species is believed to be new to Mozambique and one frog, one lizard, and a bush-cricket are believed to be new to science. Several species of animals were recorded for the first time in Mozambique.

Within Chimanimani the unique combination of different altitudes, soils, rain and fire has resulted in a high level of endemism, especially in flora. This Conservation Area as a whole has a critical role to play in the functioning of ecosystems over a wide area but faces land use conversion pressures in its buffer zone. As a result, stewardship efforts are focused on preventing encroachment and safeguarding the integrity of the site.

“The findings demonstrate how important Chimanimani is to biodiversity in Mozambique and to global conservation science. It is critical that threats to the landscape, including illegal mining, as well as poaching, logging and damaging agricultural practices are tackled so we can protect this unique landscape for generations to come”, said Lionel Massicane, Warden of the Chimanimani National Reserve.

An area within the Moribane Forest Reserve in the buffer zone of the Chimanimani National Reserve was found to be home to a number of unique species, a finding which further reinforces the importance of protecting the remaining lowland evergreen forest in the country.

The Reserve plays a vital role in the culture of local communities, its mountains having been inhabited for centuries and containing important historical sites including Stone Age rock paintings and ruins
dating back to the Great Zimbabwe era of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Together with the Chimanimani National Park in Zimbabwe the Reserve constitutes a transboundary protected area covering around 1,000 km².

The biodiversity research was carried out under the auspices of the Chimanimani Biodiversity Census Project supported by Administração Nacional das Áreas de Conservação (ANAC), Fundo Nacional de Desenvolvimento Sustentavel (FNDS), Fauna & Flora International (FFI), Gorongosa Restoration Project and MICAIA Foundation, with funding from the World Bank’s MozBio1 programme through The Foundation for the Conservation of Biodiversity (BIOFUND).