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Department of Zoology

Mountains in Northern Mozambique by Gabriel Jamie

The birdlife of northern Mozambique is very poorly known. Much of the area was inaccessible during the country’s civil war, before which few expeditions studying the region’s avifauna had been undertaken. In recent years, however, northern Mozambique’s mountains, a series of isolated granitic inselbergs, have received increased attention from biologists.

In a recent paper, Dr Gabriel Jamie together with Dr Samuel Jones (Royal Holloway University), Emidio Sumbane (Maputo Natural History Museum) and Dr Merlijn Jocque (BINCO and Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences) present the results of an expedition to three such mountains: the Njesi Plateau, Mount Chitagal and Mount Sanga. These mountains had received little to no previous biological surveys, but are the only known locality of the endangered Mozambique Forest-warbler Artisornis sousae (formerly Long-billed Tailorbird A. moreaui sousae). During the survey, the authors found healthy populations of the tailorbirds on all three mountains along with two new species for Mozambique. They also recorded several range extensions of both conservation and biogeographical importance including a new population of the highly localised Dapple-throat (Aracanator orostruthus).

Overall, they find that the birdlife of the Njesi highlands are more biogeographically linked to Tanzania, than to mountains farther south in Mozambique and Malawi. Their results illustrate the critical value of even small Afromontane forests on remote highlands for some of Africa’s least known, and most threatened avifauna.

Jones, S. E. I*.; Jamie, G. A.*; Sumbane, E. & Jocque, M (2020). The avifauna, conservation and biogeography of the Njesi Plateau, Mount Chitagal and Mount Sanga, with a review of northern Mozambique’s Afromontane birdlife. Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology. *Join first authors