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Darwin Initiative Award 15/036: Monitoring and Managing
Biodiversity Loss in South-East Africa's Montane Ecosystems
MT NAMULI, MOZAMBIQUE:
BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION
February 2009
Jonathan Timberlake, Francoise Dowsett-Lemaire, Julian Bayliss, Tereza Alves,
Susana Baena, Carlos Bento, Katrina Cook, Jorge Francisco, Tim Harris,
Paul Smith & Camila de Sousa
ABR
I
african butterfly research in
st
Forestry Research
Institute of Malawi
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 2 of 114
Front cover: Namuli peaks with Ukalini forest below (JT).
Frontispiece: Mts Pesse & Pesani above Muretha plateau (JT, top); campsite. Muretha plateau
(JT, middle L); dwarf chameleon (JB, middle R); Pavetta sp. nov? (TH, middle L); Mt Namuli &
Ukalini forest from air (CS, middle R).
Suggested citation: Timberlake, J.R., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Bayliss, J.,
Alves T., Baena, S., Bento, C., Cook, K., Francisco, J., Harris, T., Smith, P.
& de Sousa, C. (2009). Mt Namuli, Mozambique: Biodiversity and
Conservation. Report produced under the Darwin Initiative Award 15/036.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London. 114 p.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 3 of 114
LIST OF CONTENTS
LIST OF CONTENTS ............................................................................................................... 3
LIST OF TABLES ..................................................................................................................... 5
LIST OF FIGURES.................................................................................................................... 5
SUMMARY .............................................................................................................................. 7
1. INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................................. 9
2. DESCRIPTION OF STUDY AREA................................................................................ 10
2.1 Geomorphology and Geology ...................................................................................... 10
2.2 Climate ......................................................................................................................... 12
2.3 Soils..............................................................................................................................14
3. HISTORY AND EARLY COLLECTING ...................................................................... 15
3.1 Administration.............................................................................................................. 15
3.2 Local Economy and Land Use ..................................................................................... 15
3.3 History..........................................................................................................................16
3.4 Early Explorers and Collectors .................................................................................... 17
3.5 Recent Biological Survey............................................................................................. 23
4. VEGETATION ................................................................................................................ 26
4.1 Previous Studies ........................................................................................................... 26
4.2 Vegetation Types.......................................................................................................... 26
4.3 Vegetation Mapping.....................................................................................................35
5. PLANTS........................................................................................................................... 40
5.1 Introduction .................................................................................................................. 40
5.2 New and Endemic Species ........................................................................................... 40
5.3 New Species Records for Mozambique ....................................................................... 43
5.4 Red Data Status ............................................................................................................ 45
5.5 Use of Plant Species on Namuli................................................................................... 46
6. BIRDS ............................................................................................................................ 47
6.1 Historical Background.................................................................................................. 47
6.2 Methods........................................................................................................................ 48
6.3 Annotated Bird List...................................................................................................... 49
6.4 Bird Breeding Records ................................................................................................. 49
6.5 Densities of Forest Species .......................................................................................... 51
6.6 Biogeographical Considerations .................................................................................. 53
6.7 Conservation Issues...................................................................................................... 54
7. OTHER VERTEBRATES & INVERTEBRATES.......................................................... 57
7.1 Previous Studies ........................................................................................................... 57
7.2 Local Hunter Records................................................................................................... 57
7.3 Small Mammals............................................................................................................ 58
7.4 Reptiles and Amphibians ............................................................................................. 60
7.5 Lepidoptera................................................................................................................... 61
7.6 Odonata ........................................................................................................................ 63
7.7 Coleoptera and Hemiptera............................................................................................ 64
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 4 of 114
8. CONSERVATION........................................................................................................... 66
8.1 Conservation Threats.................................................................................................... 66
8.2 Conservation Issues...................................................................................................... 69
9. RECOMMENDATIONS ................................................................................................ 70
10. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ............................................................................................ 71
11. BIBLIOGRAPHY & REFERENCES............................................................................. 72
ANNEX 1a. Participants on Mt Namuli expedition, May/June 2007..................................... 78
ANNEX 1b. Participants on Mt Namuli expedition, Nov 2007.............................................. 78
ANNEX 2. Plant checklist for Mt Namuli above 1300 m. ................................................... 80
ANNEX 3. List of plant species recorded from the Gurué / Namuli area in Flora
Zambesiaca, but not listed in Annex 2. .............................................................. 93
ANNEX 4. Annotated list of birds recorded from the Namuli massif above 1200 m .......... 96
ANNEX 5. Birds caught in nets, Namuli November 2007 ................................................. 108
ANNEX 6. List of small mammal species collected or recorded from the Namuli massif 110
ANNEX 7. Butterfly species collected on Mt Namuli........................................................ 112
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 5 of 114
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1. Approximate extent of study area above different altitudes. ....................................11
Table 2. General soil characteristics of samples from the Namuli massif. ............................. 14
Table 3. List of botanical and zoological collectors/recorders from the Namuli area. ........... 24
Table 4. Extent of vegetation types from airphoto interpretation. .......................................... 36
Table 5. Extent of main vegetation types in Namuli area from 2005 Landsat imagery.......... 37
Table 6. Endemic plant species from the Mt Namuli and Gurué area. ................................... 42
Table 7. List of plant type specimens originally collected from Mt Namuli area................... 43
Table 8. Taxa collected under this project representing new records for Mozambique
according to Flora Zambesiaca or recent literature.................................................. 44
Table 9. Global conservation assessments for taxa from Mt Namuli. ....................................45
Table 10. Territory sizes of 14 bird species measured in small patches on Muretha Plateau.. 51
Table 11. Animals trapped or hunted by local hunters in the Namuli area.............................. 58
Table 12. Bat sampling locations and effort, Namuli November 2008.................................... 60
Table 13. Reptiles and amphibians collected from the Namuli region. ................................... 61
Table 14. Odonata collected by Dijkstra from the Namuli region in 2001.............................. 64
Table 15. List of Coleoptera..................................................................................................... 65
Table 16. List of Hemiptera (Heteroptera) opportunistically collected from Namuli. ............ 65
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1. Location of Namuli area. .......................................................................................... 10
Figure 2. Panorama of the Namuli Hills from the southwest................................................... 11
Figure 3. Broad upland area from Gurué (formerly Vila Junqueiro) to north of Namuli ........ 12
Figure 4. Limits to Namuli study area, showing main localities, contours and access............ 13
Figure 5. The first published map showing Namuli................................................................. 17
Figure 6. Portion of map of O'Neill's journey to Lake Kilwa, June 1883–Jan 1884
showing Mt Namuli.................................................................................................. 18
Figure 7. Joseph Last................................................................................................................ 19
Figure 8. First detailed map of the Namuli mountains............................................................. 19
Figure 9. Sketch map of Namuli massif................................................................................... 21
Figure 10. Photograph from 1932 along the Murukini ridge from Muretha to the main
Namuli peaks............................................................................................................ 22
Figure 11. Photograph from 1932 of the Muretha plateau, close to the present expedition's
campsite.................................................................................................................... 23
Figure 12. Montane forest, Manho........................................................................................... 28
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 6 of 114
Figure 13. Manho forest (montane) and peaks......................................................................... 29
Figure 14. Mosaic of grassland and montane forest, Muretha plateau .................................... 29
Figure 15. Bracken scrub under patch of montane forest destroyed by fire, Nachona plateau 30
Figure 16. Mt Pesse across Muretha plateau grassland............................................................ 31
Figure 17. Grassland, Muretha plateau .................................................................................... 31
Figure 18. Mts Pesse and Pilane with montane forest patch and Muretha plateau grassland.. 31
Figure 19. Grassland, Nachona plateau.................................................................................... 32
Figure 20. Rocky slopes with Coleochloa and Merwillea ....................................................... 33
Figure 21. Rocky slopes with Xerophyta ................................................................................. 33
Figure 22. Namuli peak from side, showing extensive rocky slopes....................................... 33
Figure 23. Seepages and grassland, Muretha plateau............................................................... 33
Figure 24. Mt Namuli from Malema valley, showing clearance and cultivation on slopes..... 34
Figure 25. Corrected Landsat image showing broad project area............................................ 37
Figure 26. Vegetation map of Namuli area from Landsat TM interpretation. ......................... 38
Figure 27. Landsat imagery of Namuli massif over 33 years, showing forest extent.............. 39
Figure 28. Pavetta sp., a possible new species of shrub from Namuli..................................... 40
Figure 29. Namuli massif showing 2007 collecting localities. ................................................ 41
Figure 30. Original herbarium collection of Pseuderanthemun viscosum ............................... 42
Figures 31 & 32. Namuli Apalis and Thyolo Alethe ............................................................... 47
Figure 33. Black-tipped mongoose in gin trap on lower slopes............................................... 59
Figure 34. Dwarf chameleon from Manho forest..................................................................... 61
Figure 35. Cymothoe sp. nov. and Uranothauma sp. nov........................................................ 62
Figure 36. Fire spreading up rocky slope................................................................................. 66
Figure 37. Remnants of forest destroyed by fire, Nachona plateau ......................................... 66
Figure 38. Cattle grazing on Nachona plateau ......................................................................... 67
Figure 39. Spring trap for elephant shrews, Manho forest....................................................... 67
Figures 40 & 41. Cut stump and plank of Faurea wentzeliana, Ukalini forest ....................... 67
Figure 42. Potato cultivation in clearing below Manho forest................................................. 68
Figure 43. Settlement and cultivation on slopes of Muretha plateau, Namuli......................... 68
Figure 44. Tea plantation in Licungo valley, below Namuli massif........................................ 68
Photo credits: CS – Camila de Sousa JB – Julian Bayliss
JT – Jonathan Timberlake TA – Tereza Alves
TH Tim Harris
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 7 of 114
SUMMARY
Mt Namuli at 2419 m is the high point of a massif and associated granite peaks situated near
Gurué town, Zambézia Province in north-central Mozambique, and the second-highest peak
in the country. It is surrounded at lower altitudes by extensive tea plantations, now being
rehabilitated, and has perhaps the best agro-ecological conditions in the country. Increasingly,
people are settling in the area and slowly encroaching up the slopes. Although recognised for
many years as being of particular biological interest, Namuli is not formally protected, is
little-explored and the conservation threats to its biodiversity have not yet been properly
documented. The massif supports extensive areas of montane forest and grassland, both
habitats rich in biodiversity and of limited extent in southern Africa and habitats that are
under increasing threat.
This report gives an account of the Namuli area, the history of its exploration and
biological survey, along with the detailed findings of two international scientific expeditions
carried out in 2007 under a UK Government Darwin Initiative grant.
Covering an area of about 200 km2 above 1200 m, the broader Namuli massif comprises
some spectacular rugged granite peaks and an associated series of small plateaux at altitudes
of around 1800–2000 m. The extent of moist montane forest is around 1100 ha, most of it
above 1700 m, with only about 135 ha of scattered medium-altitude forest below 1600 m.
Comparison of forest extent as shown on 1969 airphotos with recent satellite imagery shows
minimal forest loss, with most of that being of increasingly uncommon medium-altitude
forest. Total extent of upland grassland – the most important habitat for plant endemics – is
around 300 ha, while the remainder of the area consists of various types of bracken or
scrubland and rock slopes with tussocks of Coleochloa and scattered grasses. Beneath the
plateau, at about 1500 m and below, woodland and modified vegetation predominates.
The present surveys recorded a total of 420 plant species above 1000–1300 m altitude,
with five possibly unrecorded and new to science (Isoglossa sp. nov. [Acanthaceae],
Crotalaria sp. nov., Indigofera sp. nov. [both Fabaceae: Papilionoideae], Englerina sp. nov.
[Loranthaceae], and Pavetta sp. nov. [Rubiaceae]). Combined with previous collections, there
are thought to be over 530 plant taxa (species or subspecies) in the Namuli area, including 16
known only from the mountain and its slopes. Five species previously thought to be endemic
to Mt Mulanje, a similar massif in southern Malawi, were recorded. The biological linkages
between these and other granite mountains in south-central Africa show that they can be
collectively considered as an ecoregion.
Among vertebrates, 155 bird species have been recorded (including the endemic Namuli
Apalis) and 42 mammals (including the endemic Vincent's Squirrel). Reptiles and amphibians
were surveyed only briefly, but 13 are recorded, including a new undescribed species of
pygmy chameleon and a forest viper. The viper was previously thought to be endemic to Mt
Mabu, some 130 km to the south-west. Butterflies were looked at in more detail with 126 taxa
being recorded, including seven new to science. Species lists are given.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 8 of 114
The forests on Namuli are especially important for birds, including the Namuli Apalis and
Dapple-throat (both described as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red Data List), the latter being
represented by an endemic race. They also contain significant numbers of the Cholo Alethe
(Endangered, endemic to southeastern Malawi and adjacent northern Mozambique) and the
race belcheri of the Green Barbet. Since the only other locality for this race, on Mt Thyolo in
S Malawi, has been totally destroyed in recent years, Namuli has become its only refuge.
Namuli is considered to be an Important Bird Area based on the presence of these three
species, and also forms a significant part of the Tanzania–Malawi mountains Endemic Bird
Area. Other birds of conservation concern are the Spotted Ground Thrush (Endangered) and
White-winged Apalis (Vulnerable) – the former is only known to breed in a few mid-altitude
forests in eastern Africa whilst the latter is otherwise known from mid-altitude forest in
central Tanzania, southeastern Malawi and Mt Chiperone in northern Mozambique. Of
significant biogeographical interest is the presence of Eastern Green Tinkerbird, an Eastern
endemic previously known from only one site in Mozambique near Maputo.
The most important habitats for biodiversity conservation are upland grassland on peat
and moist evergreen forest (both montane and at medium-altitude). Neither the peat grassland
or montane forest is under major threat, although fire and selective logging for Faurea
wentzeliana are having an impact and there appears to be an increasing number of patches
within the forest cleared for cultivation of Irish potato. The grasslands on the western side of
the massif are grazed by domestic livestock (cattle, goats); expansion of this coupled with
associated fires is helping drain the grasslands and damaging forest, leading to fragmentation.
Of particular concern is the increasing destruction by cultivation and fire of medium-altitude
forest and riparian forest along the main streams below 1600 m. Other significant threats are
feral pigs rooting up species-rich vegetation over seepages, and heavy hunting pressure on
mammals; edible species are now scarce and predators mostly absent.
The biological linkages between the various montane areas in northern Mozambique and
southern Malawi are shown, suggesting a coordinated approach to conservation would be
beneficial. Finally, the main conservation issues for Namuli are outlined, along with
suggestions for its conservation management.
Recommendations for conservation management are given:
1. There should be a move towards getting the massif above 1500 m altitude recognized and
protected as a conservation area. The mechanism/s should involve the surrounding local
population and could incorporate some level of consumptive utilization.
2. Promotion of the area for ecotourism should be encouraged. For example, the recent
initiative by a local company for conservation through tourism and use of carbon-credits.
3. There should be strong controls on the levels of domestic livestock allowed on the plateau.
4. All clearance of forest or forest margins for potato and vegetable cultivation should be
halted.
5. Wildfire on the plateau needs to be controlled, possibly using locally-employed
conservation / fire scouts.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 9 of 114
1. INTRODUCTION
The Namuli massif, which includes a number of spectacular peaks including the second
highest in Mozambique, lies immediately to the north of the tea centre town of Gurué in
Zambézia Province, north-central Mozambique. The area has a comparatively long history of
biological exploration – the first known collections from the area were of plants by Joseph
Last in 1887, followed by those of birds by Jack Vincent in 1932. Various Portuguese and
South African botanists collected plants during the period 1941 to 1968, but the next major
ornithological trip was in 1998. Over the years, these collecting trips have discovered a
number of endemic plant species, an endemic squirrel and Mozambique's only endemic bird –
the Namuli Apalis. Although under no type of formal protection, its biodiversity significance
and interest has been recognised for many years.
Under a collaborative project – "Monitoring and Managing Biodiversity Loss on South-East
Africa's Montane Ecosystems" funded by a UK Government Darwin Initiative grant – various
trips were made to the Mt Namuli area from 2005 to 2007, in particular two expeditions in
May and November 2007. The expeditions were a collaborative effort between the Royal
Botanic Gardens Kew (RBG Kew), the Instituto de Investigação Agraria de Moçambique
(IIAM), the Maputo Natural History Museum (MHN), the Mulanje Mountain Conservation
Trust (MMCT), the Forest Research Institute of Malawi (FRIM), and BirdLife International.
A full list of participants for each trip is given in Annex 1. Additional persons who
contributed to sections of this report are listed under Acknowledgements.
The objectives of the study and expeditions were:
1. To undertake botanical and vegetation field survey of Mt Namuli,
2. To gather additional zoological information on the mountain, particularly on birds,
3. To train a team of Mozambican and Malawian biologists in botanical and vegetation
survey techniques,
4. To asses the extent and status and threats to the moist forest and other biodiversity on
the mountain,
5. Based on gathered field data, to develop species and habitat recovery plans.
This report attempts not only to present and discuss findings from the two main expeditions,
but also to document much of what is known from other studies on the Namuli massif and
peaks. An historical account of the trips by O'Neill, Last and Vincent is given as the original
accounts are not readily accessible. Detailed species lists for both plants and birds are
presented, along with partial data on small mammals, reptiles and amphibians and butterflies.
In addition to the species lists we give the first detailed account of the vegetation, and discuss
the threats to them all. Particular attention has been paid to endemic, rare or threatened
species. Our main attention was given to areas and species above 1500 m altitude, as below
this height much of the vegetation has already been transformed.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 10 of 114
2. DESCRIPTION OF STUDY AREA
2.1 Geomorphology and Geology
The Namuli massif, the highest points being the twin peaks of Mt Namuli itself (37o03'E,
15o22'S; 2419 m & 2369 m), lies immediately to the north of Gurué town in Zambézia
Province (Figure 1). It is about 150 km due east of Lake Chilwa in Malawi, 160 km north-east
of Mt. Mulanje, and the Indian Ocean coast lies 380 km to the east. Along with other rugged
hills and high ground, the Namuli complex forms part of the watershed between the Rio Lúrio
and Rio Licungo catchments, and appears to be the largest single such massif in the country.
It is essentially a complex of granitic inselbergs ('whalebacks') or intrusions linked by a high
plateau, exposed by millions of years of subsequent erosion. Many of the other granite domes
to the east are more like inselbergs – tall domes rising abruptly out of a relatively flat
landscape. Around 50 km away to the north-west near Mutuáli is the Cucuteia complex with a
series of peaks from 1000 to 1900 m, and 50 km to the north-east near Malema is Mt Inago at
1730 m high, while the famous and charismatic inselbergs near Ribaué lie 150 km away in the
same direction.
Figure 1. Location of Namuli area.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 11 of 114
Lying at the north-eastern edge of the massif, Mt Namuli is the second highest point in the
country (after Mt Binga at 2436 m in the Chimanimani Mountains on the border with
Zimbabwe). There are nine other peaks in the immediate area over 2000 m high (including Mt
Mirole at 2175 m, Mt Macua at 2077 m and Mt Pesse at 2303 m) and numerous others over
1800 m. Most of the taller peaks are in the northern sector but, apart from Mt Namuli itself,
the most spectacular cliffs are above Gurué facing south, rising 700 m above the town. Slopes
on the southern and western sides are maibly precipitous with some deep valleys, but slopes
are far more gentle on the northern and, especially, eastern sides (Figure 2). The plateau
portion of the massif at an altitude of 1700–1900 m slopes gently upwards from the south
west to north east, with the largest grassland area in the east – the Muretha (or Moretxa,
pronounced 'Morecha') plateau at around 1850 m; there are a few smaller grassland areas to
the north-west. Some spectacular waterfalls are found on the western side, the best-known
being the Cascata de Namuli on the Rio Licungo (15o24'40.0"S, 36o58'38.9"E, 1030 m
altitude) falling about 100 m down a sloping rock face.
Figure 2. Panorama of the Namuli Hills from the southwest (JB).
The broader upland area around the Namuli massif is around 430 km2 (Figure 3, roughly area
inside yellow line), with about 200 km2 of that comprising the Namuli plateau and peaks
around. Areas above various altitudes are shown in Table 1. The main rivers are the Rio
Malema east of the main plateau, which flows to the north to join the Rio Lúrio, and the Rio
Licungo to the west of the main massif flowing southwards to the Indian Ocean near
Quelimane. The northern flanks of the Namuli massif are drained by the Rio Namparro,
which joins the Rio Malema futher north. The study area covered in this report covers about
180 km2 between the Licungo and Malema valleys (Figure 4).
Table 1. Approximate extent of study area above different altitudes.
altitude (m) area (km2)
above 1200 197.13
above 1500 84.19
above 1800 21.58
above 2000 3.07
Lying at the southern edge of the Lurio Belt, the peaks and ridges of the Namuli massif
consist of granite-porphyrite intruded into 1100–850 million year old migmatites of the
Nampula and Namarroi series of the Mozambique tectonic province. All these rocks are
ancient, dating from the Precambrian period. Namuli appears to be formed from the same
intrusive granites as the inselbergs around Ribaué and Inago, but the inselbergs to the south
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 12 of 114
and west of Nampula are more recent (around 500–400 mya). Granitic gneisses of the Lurio
Belt surround the massif at lower altitudes on the northern and southern sides (e.g. around
Gurué), and are from the same period.
Figure 3. Broad upland area from Gurué (formerly Vila Junqueiro) to north
of Namuli. Yellow line shows approximate limits above 1000 m altitude
(from Google Earth, June 2008).
2.2 Climate
Climatic data for the Namuli massif itself at 1800–2000 m are not available. The only
available data are for Gurué town at its southern foot at an altitude of 730 m, where the
rainfall in probably significantly less and mean temperatures certainly higher. Mean annual
rainfall over 28 years at Gurué town is 1995.7 mm (Kassam et al. 1981). There is a distinct
rainy season from November to March, with each of these months having over 300 mm
precipitation (mean for March, the wettest month, is 357.8 mm) and a dry season from May to
October with less than 60 mm/month (mean of just 26.1 mm in September). Mean maximum
temperatures are 28.0oC (ranging from 32.5o in October to 23.0o in July), while mean minima
are 15.7oC (ranging from 12.3o in July to 18.3o in January). Potential evapotranspiration is
1226.7 mm/year, some 770 mm/year less than precipitation.
Early visitors record some climatic data, collected either by themselves or others. Joseph Last,
based on his own observations near present-day Gurué town in August–October 1886 (Last
1887b), recorded a mean temperature of 23.9oC (75oF), with a maximum of 35.0oC and a
minimum of 12.8oC. He says that the overnight minimum in August was frequently zero or
below, with –3.3oC recorded at 04.00 in his camp at the foot of Mt Pesse on 25th August. Jack
Vincent did not record temperature or rainfall figures himself in 1932, but mentions 3–5 year
mean records from nearby local administrators (Vincent 1933a), e.g. Alto Molócuè rainfall
1379 mm/year, mean temperature 22.4oC (July–August 18.6oC), and Malema rainfall 1026
mm/year, mean temperature 24.0oC (July–August 20.2oC). Some additional climatic data for
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 13 of 114
Malema (mean rainfall 1101 mm/year, ± 52.6) and Mutuáli are available in Gomes e Sousa
(1949) for the years 1950–1953. Vincent suggested that the annual rainfall in Gurué is around
1800 mm/year while up on the slopes of Mt Namuli it is probably 110–120 inches/year
(2800–3050 mm). He did not think temperatures frequently went much below zero up on the
plateau during the cold season, but it is clear that overnight mild frosts are not uncommon
from June to August here.
Figure 4. Limits to Namuli study area, showing main localities, contours and access.
According to FAO's climatic resources inventory map for Mozambique (FAO 1982), the
Namuli area has the longest growing season of any area in the country at 300 days, with a
moderately cool (15–20oC) temperature regime during the growth period.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 14 of 114
2.3 Soils
In the course of fieldwork 46 soil samples of topsoil and subsoil (0–20, 40–60 and 100 cm
depth) were taken from 18 sites across the massif to try and determine the main soil types and
characteristics. The samples were subsequently analyzed at the IIAM Soil Laboratory in
Maputo. Full results are not given here, but are summarized in Table 2.
Following the Mozambique national soil classification, the Namuli massif is entirely covered
by Lithic soils (Unit 1). Four subdivisions are recognized within this Unit related to
geomorphological position, including bare rock.
Table 2. General soil characteristics of samples from the Namuli massif.
Soil group Soil characteristics Geomorphology Slope
(%)
Topsoil-subsoil
texture
Soil depth
(cm)
Drainage
Lithic soils brown sandy loam,
shallow soils over altered rock
inselbergs,
erosion zones, rock
outcrops
> 30% LS-SL
altered rock
0–30 excessive
Topsoil pH(H20) Topsoil organic
matter (%)
Sodicity
Soil classification Land capability
classification (USDA)
FAO 1988 USDA 1992
4.2–4.8
very acid
high to v.high
4.5–25.0
non-sodic
Eutric
Leptosols
Lithic
Ustorthents
Vii – viii p
Most topsoil samples (0–20 cm depth) have high to very high organic matter, are very
strongly acid (exceptionally down to pH 3.4), with very low calcium (Ca = 0.03–0.06 cm
mol/kg), very low magnesium (Mg = 0.15–0.25 cm mol/kg), medium to high potassium (K =
0.5–0.6 cm mol/kg), very low sodium (Na = 0.5–0.8 cm mol/kg), but high phosphorous (P =
4–5 ppm). The mean pH over all samples, topsoil and subsoil, was 4.6. Surprisingly, the
samples from peat grassland did not show significantly different nutrient levels.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 15 of 114
3. HISTORY AND EARLY COLLECTING
3.1 Administration
The area lies in the District of Gurué in Zambézia Province, with the District centre being
Gurué town. There are a number of Localities around the mountain falling under the Posto
Administrativo do Gurué . On the eastern side, the main one is Mukunha Locality with 10,300
inhabitants, comprising most of the upper Malema valley. The population is distributed
between 16 cells in four zones – Mukunha (at the base of Mt Namuli), Kuruka (near Ukalini
forest), Murrabue (area around our base camp) and Moresse (zone above the tea plantations
SE of the Namuli massif). Each Zone is the responsibility of a Secretary or Chefe de Zona.
The population size in the upper Licungo valley area on the western side of the massif is not
known, but is probably less than that in the Mukunha area.
Local traditional administration is through the Regulo, or spiritual leader. The Regulo (or
"Queen") for Mukunha Locality is Senhora Adelina Jackson, who lives in the main settlement
of Mukunha on the north-eastern slopes of Mt Namuli. It is required that visitors to Namuli
first visit her to ask permission, with a small ceremony and exchange of gifts (Alves & Sousa
2008). There is a Secretário, Sr. Estimado, who maintains the communication between the
Regulo and the Tchamassuas, or Chefes das Zonas.
The Instituto de Investigação Agraria de Moçambique (IIAM) has recently established a small
office in Gurué based in the Department of Agriculture (formerly DDA, now Serviços
Distritais dos Actividades Ecómicos, SDAE).
3.2 Local Economy and Land Use
The main activity for which Gurué has been known in recent years is tea production.
Plantations were established by Portuguese settlers in the first part of the 20th Century, and a
number were certainly functional in the early 1930s when Jack Vincent visited (Vincent
1933a). The area has been regarded, both before and after Independence, as a major
agricultural area. There were at least four large tea factories functioning here from the 1950s
to the early-1980s. A fairly large and developed settlement was built up at Gurué Town, with
government offices, a large Catholic Mission, traders, cinema, garages, etc.
After Independence, Gurué District was still a major tea-producing area under the state-owned
Emocha company. The plantations were said to be the largest in southern Africa, exceeding
even those in Malawi around Mulanje. Much of the tea went for export, and was of some
significance in Mozambique's economy. However, in the mid-1980s, Renamo attacks during
the civil war forced the closure of the tea factories and many other support services; many
people left for more secure places. The tea plantations fell into disuse and the local economy
all but collapsed.
It is only in the last few years that local development and rehabilitation has picked up, some
years after the peace accords of 1991. Traders are again operating, bringing products in from
the coast on newly-repaired roads, and the tea plantations have been rehabilitated by cutting
back overgrown, tree-like bushes to manageable 1 m or so high shrubs. Large Albizia trees
that had grown up in the plantations are being cut out. The state has sold many of the
plantations to private operators and companies, although it is not clear if these are all
Mozambican or also represent external investment. At least two of the tea factories are in the
process of being rehabilitated (2007).
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 16 of 114
Apart from the tea plantations and rehabilitation, trading and local administration provide
some formal employment in Gurué town. There is a large Catholic Mission in Gurué
incorporating a sawmill and furniture making factory. However, apart from casual and
contract employment on the tea plantations, the main economic activity immediately around
the massif would appear to be subsistence farming. The main crops grown are cassava and
sweet potato, with some maize, sorghum and beans. Increasingly, small-scale horticulture for
cash is being practiced, particularly tomatoes and Irish potato. The produce is sold in Gurué
town and nearby. For many in the Malema valley, this is probably one of their major sources
of cash.
There are some smaller cattle owners in the upper reaches of the Namparro valley on the
northern slopes of Namuli. These criadores graze their livestock in the valley at around 1200–
1400 m, and on some of the grassy plateau above at 1800–2000 m. Total cattle numbers are
probably around 100–150 head. Cattle are left to roam by themselves for days on end, or are
attended by herdsboys, who camp out with them.
3.3 History
The people living around the Namuli massif are mostly Lomwe, a subgroup of the Macua, a
tribal / linguistic group found across much of northern Mozambique and into S Malawi and S
Tanzania. The Lomwe dialect appears to be slightly different from that of other Macua
peoples, but little seems to be recorded on their oral history and origins.
From brief discussions with the traditional local authorities, in particular the Regulo or 'queen'
who lives on the slopes of Mt Namuli, it appears that this group have been living here for
some hundreds of years. An early explorer, H.E. O'Neill, recorded that the Lomwe people
living here, who were distinct from the Macua to the east, had a great respect for Mt Namuli.
The mountain, they said, gave birth to the first of the human race (O'Neill 1884a). However,
this sacredness, which still necessitates obtaining permission from traditional authority to
climb it, appears to be confined to Mt Namuli itself and does not extend to other peaks or to
the Muretha plateau. Although the first man and woman "came out" of Mt Namuli, the first
animals came out from another hill some 6 days journey to the northwest. In addition, the
massif was probably also a place of refuge from their enemies, this being a time of much
raiding with large parts of the country depopulated owing to insecurity and warring chiefs.
The Gurué area was the centre of the tea industry in the Portuguese colonial times, the first
plantations being put in around 1930. At Independence, these were considered to be the
largest in Africa, although they fell into decline during the civil war in the 1980s. Most
plantations are now privatised and are being rehabilitated, particularly during the last 2–4
years. Plantations were extensive up the entire length of the Licungo valley to an altitude of
around 1200 m, but rarely above this. Although there are no tea plantations in the Malema
valley, extensive plantations are found on the south-eastern slopes of the Namuli massif east
of Gurué up to 800 m.
Linked to the tea estates in colonial times were a few cattle-raising enterprises, possibly run
by the tea companies themselves to provide the workforce with meat. Grazing areas and
livestock handling facilities were mostly situated on Namuli's northern slopes and in the
Namparro valley. These probably collapsed at or soon after Independence, although small
cattle owners are grazing these areas again now. The roads leading to them are still servicable,
lined in places with over-mature trees of Eucalyptus alba, although a number of the small
bridges are damaged.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 17 of 114
3.4 Early Explorers and Collectors
It has not been possible to search Portuguese colonial archives or records, but it appears that,
at least in the English-language literature, the first mention of Namuli was by the British
Consul in Mozambique, Henry O'Neill in 1883. O'Neill spent a lot of time travelling on foot
through northern Mozambique, in particular the routes between the coast and the British-
settled areas of Nyasaland (O'Neill 1884a,b, 1885). In his account of travels from the coast at
Ilha de Moçambique along the southern Lurio watershed, via what are now the towns of
Ribáuè, Malema and Lioma to Lake Chilwa (Lake Kilwa) in Malawi, he mentions that on 13
August 1883 he first saw the peaks of Mt Namuli across the broad Malema valley (O'Neill
1884a: 638). He says it was a remarkable feature, although "not reaching the description that
traders in this country generally give of them", suggesting that he, and no doubt others, was
fully aware of the massif before seeing it. The highest point was estimated as being 8500–
9000 feet high (2600–2750 m), a fairly good estimate given the knowledge at the time and the
fact that altitudes were calculated by measuring the boiling point of water.
Being a stranger in these parts, and possibly as he didn't have a guide and the areas through
which he was travelling had many warring factions, O'Neill was travelling with a coast trader,
who was probably also involved in slavery. He had to wait for 17 days near the village of
Mwedederi, probably close to the present-day Nintulo in the Malema plain and some 30 km
NNW of Namuli, while the trader went off on his own business. During this time he took
bearings on Mt Namuli from the slopes of the nearby peak of Mwakwa. From his description
it is possible that Mwakwa was the distinctive peak (Mt Mácua?) about 20 km north of
Namuli with three upright boulders on it. The first sketch map of the Namuli range and a
segment from his larger map of the area east of Lake Kilwa (O'Neill 1884b) are shown in
Figures 5 and 6, respectively. Although he didn't get closer to the Namuli massif than this, he
pointed out that it was a beautiful, well-watered and fertile area, healthy after the fever-ridden
coast, and well-suited to both European settlement and the establishment of a "central mission
and sanitarium, from which branch stations could radiate into the surrounding country....".
Figure 5. The first published
map showing Namuli, sketch
map from O'Neill (1884b).
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 18 of 114
Later, on his return journey to the coast, O'Neill describes the southern side of Namuli
(O'Neill 1884b), although again he did not seem to actually set foot on the massif. He notes its
strange shape, unlike any other mountain he had seen in the Lomwe and Macua areas, and
suggests that it may have been of volcanic origin, the steep aspect as seen from the east or
west being a crater rim. Again he records the very sacred nature of the mountain to the
Lomwe people, who seemed reluctant to talk of it.
Figure 6. Portion of map of O'Neill's journey to Lake Kilwa, June 1883–Jan 1884
showing Mt Namuli (O'Neill 1884b). The routes he travelled are shown in red.
It was around this time that there appear to have been rumours or reports of a snow-capped
mountain in the area, although there is nothing in O'Neill's writings referring to this
possibility. Such reports presumably intrigued the British exploration fraternity, coming as
they did not long after the discovery of Mts Kilimanjaro and Kenya and the Ruwenzori
Mountains in East Africa. Phenomena such as snow in the tropics had, until then, been
considered impossible. Not long after these reports surfaced, the Royal Geographical Society
in London raised funds for a small expedition to northern Mozambique, and the man chosen
to lead it was Joseph Last (1847–1933, Figure 7).
Last was an explorer and linguist who had been a missionary in Kisulutini on the Kenya
coast, and later in central Tanzania at Mpwapwa and at Mamboya in the Nguru mountains. In
1885 he set out alone from Britain on an expedition that was to last over a year. There appear
to have been four objectives for his trip: to accurately determine the position of the Rovuma–
Lugenda confluence at Negomano (the Rio Rovuma formed the border between German East
Africa and the still unconsolidated Portuguese sphere of influence of Mozambique); to "study
the climate and economic products of the District" (i.e. northern Mozambique from the coast
to Lake Niassa/Malawi and the Rio Zambezi); to "study the character and languages of the
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 19 of 114
native tribes" and, perhaps most significantly, to "spend six months in examining the
neighbourhood of the Namuli Hills, making an accurate survey and studying its climate, its
chief mineral, vegetable, and animal products, commercial resources, and the condition of the
native tribes, returning to the coast by way of the populous valley of the Likugu [Licungo]"
(Anon. 1885).
Figure 7. Joseph Last (from
Gomes e Sousa 1940).
Figure 8. First detailed map of the Namuli mountains
(Last 1890).
After meeting the British Consul in Zanzibar, Sir John Kirk, who had accompanied
Livingstone on his Zambezi expedition from 1858–63 and who had also collected many plant
specimens from Mozambique, Last arrived at the mouth of the Lindi River in SE Tanzania in
October 1885 (Last 1887b). From here he set off south-eastwards on foot with a few porters
reaching Negomano on 15 November (see maps in Last 1890), where he took numerous
position readings and determined altitude by means of recording the temperature at which
water boiled. Continuing on foot along the Lugenda River he reached Blantyre in then British
Nyasaland (now Malawi) on 13 January, making many interesting observations on the way
(Last 1887b).
After a period recovering from illness and various other trips in southern Malawi, Last set off
from Blantyre to Namuli on 12 July 1886, passing south of Lake Chilwa (Last 1887a). On 3
August 1886 he reached Ana Guruwe's kraal (37o02'20"E, 15o27'30"S), situated on the
Namuli foothills by the track up to the Malema valley some 5 km east of the present-day town
of Gurué, a site now covered by tea plantations. Here he was welcomed, given huts to stay in,
and was based for three months while exploring and surveying the Namuli massif. His
descriptions of the massif and its natural history (Last 1887b) and his detailed sketch map
(inset in Last 1890, Figure 8) appear to be the first from the massif itself. Unfortunately it is
difficult to reconcile this map with current ones, in part probably owing to difficulties in
determining latitude. Last determined the height of seven of the peaks in the area, but
apparently not that of Mt Namuli, which he said was too difficult to climb, and also took
numerous meteorological readings around Ana Guruwe's village. He briefly describes the
vegetation and mentions spectacular waterfalls, the various cone-shaped peaks of "Mrule,
Pilani and Pesani", mentions the soft green grass of the Malema valley (to be seen today along
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 20 of 114
the Rio Malema floodplain), and spent time up on the Muretha plateau itself. However, he
seemed to focus his attention more on the Licungo valley and slopes above. The position of
Mt Namuli is given by Last as 37o04'15"E, 15o20'12"S, the latitude of which seems a bit out
according to modern maps, and he estimates the height at 8000 feet (2440 m), very close to
that given on maps now (2419 m). There was no settlement up on the plateau then, but he
records much inter-village conflict with people from the east side not wishing to visit the
west. There was even a group in the upper Licungo in the hamlet of Mana who were
reportedly cannibals, but Last found this to be more due to fear and bluff than reality.
Last left Ana Guruwe's kraal on 23 October along the Rio Licungo and reached Quelimane in
16 November, from where he returned to Blantyre. Shortly after, on 28 January 1887, he set
off for the coast along the upper Rio Lugenda, then cross-country to the Rio Mtepwesi
(possibly what are now Rios Mu-upua and Montepuez) and Ibo Island north of Pemba. At one
point on the return journey, in what appears to be the Marrupa area, he and his porters had to
hide all their baggage in the hills in order to move on more rapidly to get food, as there were
no settlements or people from which they could buy and hunger was setting in. On returning
later they found all their baggage stolen, including, apparently, many of Last's natural history
specimens. There seems to be no record of how much was lost, and whether this included
notes. They were helped a lot after this incident by a Chief Mweli in what is probably now the
Balama–Montpuez area, before reaching Ibo.
Archive correspondence and lists at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew show that from this trip
Joseph Last brought back at least 79 plant specimens and 16 fungi (dated January 1887 so
presumably the specimens were shipped directly from Blantyre as Last did not arrive back in
UK until June 1887), plus an assortment of economic botany artefacts such as cloth,
instruments, utensils and seeds donated in November 1887. All are labelled as being from
"Namuli, Macua Country, 1887" (Figure 30). At least 20 of these plants are types, specimens
used to describe new species, although 14 names are now reduced to synonymy (see Table 7).
Subsequently Last worked in Zanzibar (1899) as Commissioner for Slavery, and in
Madagascar, where he developed a particular interest in ferns. At one time his house in
Suffolk, UK was called "Namuli".
Almost 50 years were to pass before the next significant biological records from Namuli. In
the interim there was presumably much development in the surrounding area, as Vincent
(1933a) mentions the newly-established tea plantations around Gurué in 1932. It has not been
possible so far to determine the rate of expansion of these plantations, or of the associated
livestock enterprises on the drier sides of the massif, but they all appear to have been well-
established by the 1950s.
In 1932 Jack Vincent, a British ornithologist from the Natural History Museum in London,
visited Namuli as part of an extensive collecting trip around northern Mozambique. Given the
large gap in knowledge of species and distributions, his principal interest was to determine
where the transition zone lay between the East African and southern African bird faunas. He
realised that the Zambezi River was unlikely to be a barrier for bird distribution, and thought
the transition zone was more likely to be the series of hills along the Lurio watershed, of
which Namuli forms part. These mountains and outcrops also support forest patches, an
important habitat for unusual birds.
Like Last before him, Vincent based himself in Blantyre in southern Malawi, but instead of
using porters and travelling on foot he bought a second-hand 1 ton Ford truck, and with five
assistants (including at least one Zulu bird skinner he had trained), spent the next 10 months
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 21 of 114
collecting and skinning birds across large parts of southern Malawi and northern
Mozambique. During this time he visited Blantyre, Mt Mulanje, Mocuba, Gurué, Angónia,
Furancungo, Tete, Malema, Ribáuè, Nampula, Mossuril and Namapa, as well as what was
probably his principal objective – Mt Namuli. During the earlier stages of his travels, in
January 1932 in the rainy season, he camped near Gurué, but found the vegetation there too
thick for moving around and successful bird collecting, so returned to Malawi. There was also
the problem of possibly being stuck for up to four months once the Rio Licungo flooded.
Later, in July 1932, Vincent came back to Namuli after collecting in the Nampula and
Malema areas. He stopped at the run-down Scotch Mission at Nauela, some 60 km east of
Namuli, and from here walked with porters to the Malema valley, where he set up camp on 21
July in the Ukusini forest in a small clearing at an altitude of around 1400 m. His detailed
paper in the Royal Geographical Society's journal (Vincent 1933a) gives not only the first
known photos of the mountain, many places still being recognisable now, but also a sketch
map of the eastern and northern parts (Figure 9). He also provides numerous descriptions of
natural history and the people of the Malema valley, their lifestyle and agriculture.
Vincent's explorations were primarily on the north-eastern parts of the Namuli massif. He
climbed the Murukuni ridge which links the main Namuli peaks with the Muretha plateau
(including an impressive photo, Figure 10), but he states that the peaks here were too steep for
him to climb. Most of his bird collecting was done in the Ukalini forest, the 'apron' of forest
below the steep SE-facing slopes of Namuli at 1560–1900 m (see front cover), and in what he
calls the Ukusini forest lower down at around 1200–1400 m along the Rio Nanchili. Much of
the latter forest now seems to have been cleared, but the Ukalini appears similar to what it
was in his day.
Figure 9. Sketch map of Namuli massif (Vincent 1933a).
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 22 of 114
He describes the Muretha plateau at around 1890 m in some detail. On the way up there was
much spiny Smilax anceps and a ginger-lily (probably Aframomum sp.). The rolling short
grass plateau itself was often wet and cloud-covered, dotted with patches of thick forest
comprising trees similar to those in the gullies below, but not so high. On forest edges
Tetradenia riparia was common with the small tree Myrsine africana, and on only the south
sides of forest patches he mentions a 5 m high species of Aeschynomene (possibly Kotschya
recurvifolia). The grassland, mostly of Themeda triandra with Eragrostis and Loudetia
species, was underlain by perennially waterlogged, black peat soil, and many grass tufts
concealed water-filled holes (Figure 11). A species of everlasting Helichrysum that Vincent
did not recognise is mentioned, along with ground orchids and a type of gentian (possibly
Swertia curtioides). The finest and most characteristic tree of Ukalini and Ukasini forest,
rising to 30 m, was reported to be Newtonia buchananii, along with the common liana
Dalbergia arbutifolia and a large species of Marattia fern. But there was no Widdringtonia
whytei (Mulanje cedar), no bamboo, no bauxite, and no human settlement, although there was
apparently some settlement higher up on the western side. Wild pigs were said to be common
up on the plateau, and leopard not uncommon, but there was no trace of bushbuck or other
antelope. Native hunters and trappers used nets and decoys to catch birds, especially a
partridge-like 'Pternistis' (Hildebrandt's Francolin). On steep rock faces there were tree
Vellozia (Xerophyta viscosa?), along with a white Crassula (C. globularioides?) and a blue
Lobelia (L. blantyrensis?). Such descriptions suggest an environment very similar to what is
seen today, except for leopard and wild pig, now replaced by domesticated livestock.
Figure 10. Photograph from 1932 along the Murukini ridge from Muretha to the
main Namuli peaks (Vincent 1933a).
During his travels across northern Mozambique, Vincent describes seeing much wildlife,
something now sadly absent, recording elephant, black rhino, wildebeest, eland, sable,
hartebeest, reedbuck, hippo, crocodile, lion and hyena. At this time there were many instances
of man-eating lions around villages, and he records a country-wide estimate of around 2000
people per year being killed by lions, many of the lions not being old or incapable but just
perhaps finding humans easier to catch. At one camp near Malema, he arrived when lions had
eaten 20 people in 21 days. Vincent also refers to black rhino being common, even being shot
for meat rations for road workers at times. Although he had a plan to visit Mt Chiperone with
an elephant hunter, this trip did not materialise, but he mentions on at least two occasions that
he thought that mountain would be very interesting to visit zoologically. Mt Chiperone was
the focus of the previous expedition under the current Darwin project (Timberlake et al.
2007).
Vincent left Namuli for Malawi on 10 August after almost a month in the area. He had got
what he considered to be a very representative list of birds from the mountain, recording 68
species above about 1360 m, and collecting 250 skins of 53 species. Some of these birds were
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 23 of 114
described as new to science, including the endemic Namuli Apalis. He also collected a few
small mammals, including five specimens of what was later described as the endemic
Vincent's squirrel, some plants (he says he couldn’t get flowers or fruits of many forest trees),
insects and at least one unusual black mollusc, and later published extensively on his bird
collections and collecting localities (Vincent 1933b, 1933–36). It has not been possible to
locate his plant specimens, which are probably held at the Natural History Museum herbarium
(BM) in London.
Figure 11. Photograph from 1932 of the Muretha plateau, close to the
present expedition's campsite (Vincent 1933a).
3.5 Recent Biological Survey
The previous section outlined visits and collections up to the 1930s. This section primarily
looks at the period from the Second World War to date. All known collectors and dates are
shown in Table 3.
Apart from Joseph Last, who collected about 79 specimens (including at least 22 later
described as new), Charles Swynnerton (then living in Chirinda Forest in SE Zimbabwe) who
collected a little in the Malema valley in 1906, and a few specimens from Jack Vincent in
1932, no detailed plant collecting seems to have been done until a series of visits by António
Rocha da Torre to the mountains around Gurué from 1937 to 1943. Initially Torre's
collections appear to have been under his own initiative, but in April and June 1943 he
collected more extensively in the area (90 specimens from Namuli) as part of a nationwide
botanical survey by the Missão Botânica de Moçambique. At least five new species resulted
from these trips. After Torre there were scattered collections, mostly from the Gurué area and
surrounding country at lower altitudes, by the Portuguese collectors Mendonça (1942, 1944),
Andrade (1949), and Grandvaux Barbosa & Carvalho (1949). However, little seems to be
known about these trips other than the specimen notes, and most of the plant labels are not
very specific.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 24 of 114
Many years later, between 1966 and 1968, Torre again visited the Namuli area on at least four
occasions with M.F. Correia. These visits, resulting in at least 482 collections, were to the
Licungo valley and western massif slopes (Feb 1966 and Feb 1967), to the slopes and riverine
forests of Mt Namuli on the eastern side of the massif (Nov 1967), and to the forest and upper
slopes above Gurué town (Jan 1968). They collected in all the main habitats up to at least
1820 m, including montane forest and grassland, but possibly not higher up. However, most
of these collections were from 1300 m altitude or lower (around 260 specimens), with a
sizeable number from there up to 1700 m. Perhaps only 130 specimens were collected from
1700 m or above, the point at which the plateau and montane forest can be said to truly begin.
Table 3. List of botanical and zoological collectors/recorders from the Namuli area.
Collector Date Notes
J.T. Last Aug-Oct 1886 plants (Mt Namuli, date given as 1887)
C.F.M. Swynnerton Nov 1906 plants (v.few) (Malema valley)
J. Vincent July-Aug 1932 bird collecting, plants, small mammals, molluscs
A.R. Torre May 1937 plants (hills in Gurué area)
A.R. Torre Sept-Oct 1941 plants (Serra Gurué)
A.R. Torre Apr 1943 plants (Gurué, Namuli)
A.R. Torre June 1943 plants (Gurué, Namuli)
F.A. Mendonça Oct-Nov 1942 plants (Serra Gurué)
F.A. Mendonça Sept 1944 plants (Gurué, Namuli)
E.C. Andrada Aug 1949 plants (Gurué, Namuli)
L.A.G. Barbosa, M. Carvalho Sept-Oct 1949 plants (Gurué)
L. Leach, E.A.C. Schelpe July 1962 plants; Schelpe & Leach for Pteridophytes
A.R. Torre, M.F. Correia Feb 1966 plants
A.R. Torre Feb 1967 plants
A.R. Torre Nov 1967 plants
A.R. Torre Jan 1968 plants (Gurué, Namuli)
J. de Koning, P.A. Schafer July-Aug 1979 plants (Gurué)
P. Ryan, C. Bento, C. Cohen, J. Graham,
V. Parker, C. Spottiswoode
Nov-Dec 1998 bird recording & ringing
M.P. de Melo, R. Covas, K-D. Dijkstra Dec 2001 bird ringing, Odonata
Chicago Field Museum July-Aug 2003 bird collecting
J. Kerbis, E. Sarmiento Nov 2004 small mammals, bird collecting; unpublished
P. Bruyns Jan 2004 plants, Licungo valley
J. Bayliss, H. Patel Nov 2005 butterflies, plants
S. van Noort, K. Tolley, A. Gardiner May 2006 herps, figs, butterflies (foothillls)
A. Monadjem Aug 2006 bat collecting (Gurué)
J.R. Timberlake, T. Harris, H. Patel May-June 2007 plants
J.R. Timberlake, T. Harris, H. Patel Nov 2007 plants
J. Bayliss, L. Sabão May-June 2007 small mammals, reptiles, butterflies
J. Bayliss, L. Sabão Nov 2007 small mammals, reptiles, butterflies
C. Bento, R. Demey May-June 2007 bird observations
F. Dowsett-Lemaire, T. Mzumara Nov 2007 bird observations & recording
K. Cook Nov 2007 bird ringing & collecting
A. Gardiner, B. Wursten Apr 2008 butterflies, plants
Other significant collections have been made by the South Africans Larry Leach and Edward
Schelpe in 1962, who were particularly interested in succulents and ferns respectively. And,
more recently, by Peter Bruyns, who described new Euphorbia and Asclepiadaceae from
Namuli and surrounding areas (Bruyns 2006a,b).
The recent expeditions under this Darwin project represent the most comprehensive botanical
survey to date, with 725 numbered collections from a range of montane habitats over two
seasons.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 25 of 114
On the zoological side, there do not appear to have been any records after Vincent's trip in
1932 until the expedition from the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute for Ornithology in Cape Town
in November 1998 (Ryan 1999a), which revisited some of his localities. They found the
Namuli Apalis and other species of conservation interest still common, and gave an estimate
of the extent of montane forest – for the first time recording that it was more extensive than
had previously been thought. More detail on previous ornithological work is given later.
Two other significant zoological trips were by the Field Museum of Natural History
(Chicago) in July–August 2003, during which 200 bird specimens were collected, and a trip
by Julian Kerbis and Esteban Sarmiento (Chicago Field Museum and American Museum of
Natural History, respectively) in 2004, who spent a number of weeks camped on the edge of
Manho forest on the Muretha plateau collecting small mammals and birds. However, the
results from these latter collections are still not published. There is a collection of around 200
bird specimens from Namuli and Mt Chiperone in spirit at AMNH still awaiting labels and
identification.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 26 of 114
4. VEGETATION
4.1 Previous Studies
Although the Namuli massif is relatively small at a regional level, it is still clearly depicted on
the Flora Zambesiaca vegetation map of Wild and Barbosa (1967) as an area of Moist
Evergreen Medium-altitude Forest (Type 1) encompassing a small area of Dry Coniferous
Montane Forest (Type 8). Both designations unfortunately do not reflect what is present,
which is more akin to Moist Broadleaved Montane Forest (Type 7) surrounding a small area
of sub-montane Themeda grassland (Type 68). The Dry Coniferous Forest probably refers to
an assumed area of Widdringtonia, which is in fact absent from Namuli, although present in
similar situtions on Mt Mulanje. The pediments immediately below are shown as
Brachystegia spiciformis (high rainfall) Woodland (Type 21) surrounded by drier
Brachystegia spiciformisJulbernardia Woodland (Type 23) further away. Frank White
(1983) in his study of vegetation Africa-wide, depicts the montane forest on Namuli as being
allied to the East African coastal mosaic (Type 16b), similar to that on other montane massifs
in northern Mozambique, and surrounded by Wetter Zambesian miombo woodland (Type 25).
However, the forests on Namuli show very little affinity to those of the lower coastal areas
and are much closer to what he terms Afromontane Forest, certainly at above 1600 m altitude.
Earlier studies include Barbosa's (1952) study on the vegetation of Zambézia Province. He
describes the vegetation of the Namuli massif, along with that on other massifs such as Mt
Mabu and Morrumbala, as Unit 1 – Moist Tropical Montane Forest (rain and clouds). In
general trees are said to be evergreen, 18–20 m high with 3 or 4 strata, and forest is only
found at over 1200 m altitude. The herbaceous layer is poor, but ferns are common. He also
points out that additional moisture is available to these forests through clouds being formed as
the prevailing moist south-easterly airflow is forced over the mountains and cools. Above a
certain (unspecified) altitude it is sufficiently cool that a xerophytic thicket vegetation is
encountered dominated by species from the Ericaceae and Proteaceae families. Typical moist
forest species mentioned by Barbosa and found on Namuli include: Albizia gummifera,
Anthocleista grandiflora, Harungana madagascariensis, Macaranga spp., Maesa lanceolata,
Newtonia buchananii, Oxyanthus speciosus and Parinari excelsa, although these are rarely
found together and do not define a vegetation type. He also mentions that large areas of this
forest type have been cleared in the Gurué area for tea plantations, and makes a plea for the
conservation of at least some of the forested areas.
Pedro & Barbosa (1955) produced a map of the vegetation of Mozambique, which later
formed the basis of the Mozambique section of Wild & Barbosa's Flora Zambesiaca map.
Surprisingly, they do not give details of vegetation in our study area as apparently this was
only seen from afar, but they state that vegetation at 1000–1800 m is part of Complex 79
(Montane zones of Zambézia–Niassa), while those parts above 1800 m fall into Complex 80
(Subalpine zones of Zambézia). Areas below 800 m are described as open or closed
woodland, characterised by Brachystegia species and Uapaca, depending on geomorphology
and soil type.
4.2 Vegetation Types
From our study, the vegetation of the Namuli massif above 1200 m altitude can be broadly
categorised into six main groups – forest, woodland, scrub, grassland, thin mats or patches on
rocky slopes, and cultivated/heavily disturbed areas. Although these six categories are
generally self-evident, there is substantial variation within some and the boundaries are not
always clear-cut. This is particularly the case with the woodland and scrub, which in a
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 27 of 114
number of instances would appear to have been derived from forest or grassland by
disturbance and/or fire. Undoubtedly woodland was extensive before settlement in the area,
but it would seem that it is this vegetation type that has been the most modified by human
activity.
The main vegetation types are characterised and described below in terms of their structure
(height, cover, etc), species composition and ecology. This was done using ground-based
fieldwork and aerial photos. Vegetation records were taken from samples around 0.5 ha in
extent, placed subjectively in what were considered to be representative spots across the study
area. A GPS point was recorded for each. The descriptions and ecological notes below are
based on extensive field observations by J. Timberlake and F. Dowsett-Lemaire, and data
from the vegetation sample plots. A more detailed account of the forest types is given in
Dowsett-Lemaire (2008).
Most emphasis during the study was placed on forest vegetation and grassland, as these are
the two species-rich types that are of greatest conservation interest. Lesser attention was given
to vegetation patches on rock slopes, rocky outcrops and seepages, although they are also of
interest. Woodland, scrub and cultivated areas were not looked at in much detail. Most of the
study focussed on vegetation above 1700 m, with the addition of the Ukalini forest (1550–
1800 m) and areas above the Cascata de Namuli in the upper Licungo and Namparro valleys
(1000–1400 m).
a) Forest
The area under moist evergreen forest on the Namuli massif is surprisingly extensive,
estimated at around 1250 ha, with about 1115 ha of this being found at an altitude of 1600–
1900 m (see section 4.3 and Table 4). There is about 50 ha of forest between 1950 and 2200
m on the slopes of Mts Pesse and Pilani, and around 135 ha of medium-altitude forest below
1600 m. The main blocks of forest, which are more-or-less continuous, lie in broad valleys
and on the less-steep slopes of the plateau, trending in a SW–NE direction. Some forest areas
are in deeper valleys, such as the Ntapatata valley below the southern slopes of Mt
Namuchuruvu and Mt Pesse, or in moister areas such as the Ukalini forest nestled below the
peaks of Mt Namuli itself. Most of the present survey work was carried out in Manho forest at
the eastern end of the massif and in Ukalini forest.
Based on altitude and composition, there are three main types of forest, described separately
below.
Montane Forest: This forest type is found from around 1600 m to 2200 m, with the main
area of development at 1700–1800 m. The canopy is closed at around 20–25 m high, with
emergents to 30 or even 40 m (Figure 12). In smaller patches on the Muretha plateau, or on
steeper slopes flanking the peaks, the canopy is lower at 15–20 m with emergents to 25 m.
Epiphytes and ferns are common, indicating the high year-round humidity derived from
frequent low cloud and rain outside of the main rainy season. Although trees can be tall, there
are not many of large girth (i.e. greater than 60 cm diameter). Stem density is fairly high.
In Manho forest (Figure 13) the main emergent trees are Faurea wentzeliana (Tchetchere, the
only species exploited for timber), Cryptocarya liebertiana, Olea capensis (Evaca) and
Ekebergia capensis. Common canopy trees, in addition to the emergent species, are Albizia
gummifera, Anthocleista grandiflora (near edges or in gaps), Aphloia theiformis, Apodytes
dimidiata, Bersama abyssinica, Cassipourea malosana, Canthium vulgare, Cussonia spicata
(gaps), Drypetes gerrardii, Eugenia capensis, Garcinia kingaensis (common), Ilex mitis
(along streams), Macaranga capensis, Maytenus acuminata, Podocarpus latifolius, Polyscias
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 28 of 114
fulva, Prunus africana, Rapanea melanophloeos, Schefflera umbellifera and
Tabernaemontana stapfiana. Below 1700 m Chrysophyllum gorungosanum appears, with
Myrianthus holstii in the understorey.
Understorey trees and woody shrubs include: Alchornea hirtella (common), Allophylus
chaunostachys, Canthium oligocarpum, Carissa bispinosa, Chassalia parvifolia, Diospyros
natalensis, Dracaena laxissima, Erythroxylum emarginatum, Ixora scheffleri, Lasianthus
kilimandscharicus (very common), ?Metarungia pubinervia, Mimulopsis solmsii, Mostuea
brunonis, Ochna holstii, Oxyanthus speciosus, Pauridiantha paucinervis, Peddiea africana,
Psychotria zombamontana, Rawsonia lucida, Rytigynia uhligii, Tricalysia sp. and Xymalos
monospora. Large woody lianas are characterised by Schefflera goetzenii, and Rutidea
orientalis is also very common. Perhaps the commonest plant in the herb layer is Anisotes
pubinervis. The fern flora is diverse, both in terrestrial and epiphytic species.
The Ukalini forest (see front cover) has a somewhat different composition being at a slightly
lower altitude, and probably a bit warmer. Although essentially Afromontane, it has elements
of medium-altitude forest at its lower margins. The most luxuriant section of the forest, 25–30
m tall, lies in a saddle at 1600–1750 m; two broad 'wings' ascend to the SW and NW up to
1900 m. The emergents are much the same as in Manho, but larger canopy trees include:
Albizia gummifera, Anthocleista grandiflora, Aphloia theiformis, Apodytes dimidiata,
Canthium vulgare, Chrysophyllum gorungosanum, Cryptocarya liebertiana, Drypetes
gerrardii, Ekebergia capensis, Faurea wentzeliana, Ficus scassellatii, Garcinia kingaensis,
Ilex mitis (streams), Macaranga capensis, Ochna holstii, Ocotea kenyensis, Olea capensis,
Polyscias fulva, Prunus africana, Rapanea melanophloeos, Strombosia scheffleri, Syzygium
guineense and Tabernaemontana stapfiana. A few strangling Ficus scassellatii occur from
1600–1700 m, and Strombosia scheffleri is found at around 1600 m. Chrysophyllum and
Myrianthus are found up to 1750 m. At the forest margin Trema orientalis is common.
Figure 12. Montane forest, Manho (JT).
Understorey trees and woody shrubs include: Alchornea hirtella, Aulacocalyx diervilloides,
Canthium oligocarpum, Cassine aethiopica (stream), Chassalia parvifolia, Diospyros
natalensis, Dracaena laxissima, Englerophytum magalismontanum, Erythroxylum
emarginatum, Garcinia volkensii, Ixora scheffleri, Lasianthus kilimandscharicus, Myrianthus
holstii, Peddiea africana, Psychotria zombamontana, Rawsonia lucida, Rytigynia uhligii,
Tricalysia acokantheroides and Vepris stolzii. Lianas include Canthium gueinzii, Landolphia
buchananii, Mussaenda arcuata, Rutidea orientalis, Schefflera goetzenii (dominant),
Secamone alpini, Toddalia asiatica and Urera hypselodendron.
On the Muretha plateau at 1850–1900 m there are numerous small forest patches, ranging in
size from 30 m2 to several hectares with a canopy at around 15–20 m and emergents to 20–25
m (Figure 14). These patches are more exposed to fires and contain more secondary, partly
fire-resistant species. The most apparent species here are those from forest margins, including
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 29 of 114
Aphloia theiformis, Maesa lanceolata, Peddiea africana and, especially, Morella (Myrica)
serrata. Other common trees include Cassipourea malosana (emergent), Cryptocarya
liebertiana (emergent), Ekebergia capensis (emergent), Faurea wentzeliana (emergent),
Macaranga capensis, Nuxia congesta, Olea capensis (emergent), Podocarpus latifolius,
Prunus africana, Rapanea melanophloeos, Schefflera umbellifera, Syzygium cordatum and S.
guineense subsp. guineensis. In proximity to streams, Ilex mitis is common.
Figure 13. Manho forest (montane)
and peaks (JT).
Medium-altitude Forest: This forest type, really only found below 1600 m, has a less-even
but often higher canopy, although similar to that of montane forest. The main species
difference is in the increased presence of Albizia gummifera and Newtonia buchananii, Ficus
spp. and various Sapotaceae trees such as Chrysophyllum gorungosanum, Englerophytum
magalismontanum and Synsepalum sp.
Only one patch of medium-altitude forest was visited up on the Namuli massif, situated along
the upper reaches of the Manho river between 1450–1600 m before it falls into the Malema
valley. Species composition here changed markedly at around 1600 m.
Riverine Forest: Lower down, along larger watercourses such as the Namchili river, a
tributary of the Malema, well-developed riparian forest or woodland is found, although the
extent appears to be significantly less than in Vincent's day. He camped and collected birds in
these areas. On the Malema valley side, Dowsett-Lemaire (2008) records that Albizia
adianthifolia is common (1250–1450 m), along with Bersama abyssinica, Parinari excelsa
and Newtonia buchananii. Slightly higher up at 1450–1500 m, Bridelia micrantha, Tetradenia
riparia, Maesa lanceolata, Schrebera alata, Nuxia congesta, P. excelsa and S. cordatum were
noted, with Trema orientalis in gaps.
In the Licungo valley on the western side of the massif at 1000–1250 m, narrow strips of tall
riverine forest is found, comprising Breonadia salicina, Parinari excelsa, Ficus sp., Syzygium
sp. and Englerophytum magalismontanum, with tea plantations immediately adjacent. These
are remnants, and it is not clear if they still represent viable populations.
Figure 14. Mosaic of grassland and
montane forest, Muretha plateau (JT).
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 30 of 114
b) Woodland
Woodland vegetation is primarily found at altitudes below 1800 m, i.e. just off the plateau, on
the margins of true forest, but primarily on the lower slopes below 1700 m. There is no figure
for its total extent. Vegetation sampling was limited, as are details on species composition.
On forest margins from 1800–2000 m, Erica (Phillipia) benguelensis is common, often as tall
trees up to 20 m high, forming a type of woodland. This type is much affected by fire, and
could be considered as either a derivative from moist forest, or a seral stage towards it.
No miombo woodland (that is, woodland characterised by species of Brachystegia or
Julbernardia) was seen, although a very few small shrubs of Brachystegia spiciformis were
noted on the NE slopes of Mt Namuli at 1650 m.
Another type of woodland, found on slopes that have been partially cleared and cultivated and
frequently burnt, is characterised by evergreen trees of Syzygium cordatum. The intervening
trees have either been cut out, or have failed to regenerate owing to fire. Presumably S.
cordatum is long-lived and fire-tolerant. Dowsett-Lemaire (2008) mentions this type at
medium altitude (1200–1500 m), but with some at higher altitude (1800–1900 m) on forest
margins.
c) Scrub
Typically this vegetation type comprises bracken (Pteridium aquilinum), small shrubs such as
Kotschya recurvifolia and Tetradenia (Iboza) riparia, and woody herbs such as Dissotis sp.,
climbing Desmodium, purple-flowered Tephrosia aequilata and various Lamiaceae,
Acanthaceae, Asteraceae and Cyperus species. The stands of bracken, which can be quite
extensive, are from 0.5–1.5 m high (Figure 15), while clumps of shrubs can exceed 2.5 m in
height and cover a hectare or more.
This vegetation type appears to be secondary, derived by fire or disturbance from grassland
and the drier margins of forest. Burning is fierce and regular. Scrub is found above 1750–
1800 m up to 2000 m at the margins of montane forest in more fertile or better-drained sites
within grassland, especially close to rocky outcrops, ridges or on footslopes, and also below
the plateau. The total extent has not been determined, but it is unlikely to exceed 200–300 ha.
Figure 15. Bracken scrub under patch of
montane forest destroyed by fire,
Nachona plateau (JT).
With increased fire frequency and scattered clearance for potato cultivation, this vegetation
type is likely to increase in extent. It does not have any particular conservation significance,
and has few nectar-producing flowers for birds (Dowsett-Lemaire 2008).
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 31 of 114
d) Grassland
There are three main grassland areas on the plateau, with an overall extent of around 300 ha
between 1850 and 2000 m. The main area, of around 170 ha, is the Muretha (or Moretxa)
plateau (1850–1900 m) above the Maleme valley (Figures 16, 17), and is where the main
campsite was situated. The other large area, the Nachona plataeu flanking the western slopes
of Mts Pilani and Pesse, covers around 95 ha from 1900–2000 m and is moderately heavily
grazed. The third area, around 32 ha at 1850–1900 m, lies at the head of the Licungo valley
and to the east, overlooking the upper Niúiri valley to the north-east.
Figure 16. Mt Pesse across Muretha plateau
grassland (JT).
Figure 17. Grassland, Muretha plateau
(JT).
Much of the grassland on the Namuli massif, particularly that on the Muretha plateau, is
found on deep peat deposits, presumably built up through waterlogging and acidic conditions,
whilst other areas are on deep moist soils. It is probable that marked seasonal waterlogging is
the factor that inhibits invasion by forest or scrub vegetation, and causes grassland to develop.
In places on the Muretha plateau the peat is very deep and the area is very boggy with
numerous water-filled holes, especially in lower-lying areas. The grasses are tussocky,
primarily Loudetia simplex at 50–100 cm high, with Themeda triandra and Eragrostis species
being more common on better-drained sites. Closer to rock outcrops shorter grasses to 20 cm
are found, and the vegetation changes gradually to one more typical of rocky areas. Across the
plateau, herbs, both short and tall, are common, with many having root storage organs such as
rhizomes. Among the most characteristic are Euphorbia depauperata, Helichrysum spp.,
Crotalaria sp. and various ground orchids. The density of the latter is estimated to average 1
plant/m2. Locally a leafy Kniphofia is found, the leaves of which are used to make baskets. A
few small Protea trees (P. petiolaris, P. welwitschii) were found in one area in the north.
Scattered tree ferns (Cyathea dregei) are found on gully edges.
Figure 18. Mts Pesse and Pilane
with montane forest patch and
Muretha plateau grassland (JT).
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 32 of 114
Near forest margins, or where soils are better drained, areas of Pteridium aquilinum with tall
woody herbs (Dissotis sp., Tephrosia aequilata) and low shrubs such as Kotschya recurvifolia
and Tetradenia riparia are common, described above under scrub vegetation. This
assemblage could be a response to frequent burning (many of the species are fire-tolerant) or a
result of better drainage status and higher soil fertility.
Figure 19. Grassland, Nachona
plateau (JT)
Across many of the grassland areas, small patches of moist forest can be found, ranging in
size from 30 m2 to a few hectares. These are described above in the section on forests. These
patches provide refuge to birds and number of vertebrates and invertebrates.
The northern and western grasslands are extensively grazed by cattle (Figure 37), brought up
from the farms in the Namparro valley below. These stay there much of the time, and are
generally not herded or handled. The grasses are significantly less tussocky than on the
Muretha plateau, with a lower grass height, less waterlogging, and possibly less frequent fires.
The grass Setaria sphacelata is common in enriched areas. Feral pigs are found across the
grasslands. Goats, although not particularly common, seem to congregate close to some rocky
outcrops, where they enrich the soil with their droppings. The avifauna is not considered to be
of great interest. A common mammal is the burrowing African Marsh Rat.
Upland peat grasslands are a scarce vegetation type, nationally and across the region, more so
than montane forest. Such areas also have a high plant diversity and possibly a high
invertebrate diversity too, and support some of the known endemic species. They are of great
conservation significance, with Namuli representing one of the largest extents of natural
upland grassland in Mozambique, along with Mt Gorongosa and the Chimanimani Mountains.
e) Rocky slopes
Possibly the most extensive vegetation types on the massif, although of a similar order of
magnitude to forest, is that found on rocky slopes and outcrops. These types cover vegetation
adapted to severe drought and high diurnal temperature changes on rock faces, and also
vegetation found in perennial seepages on shallow slopes adjacent to grassland. The largest
expanses are found on and around the Mts Pesse–Pilane complex and on Mt Namuli.
On rock faces and steeper slopes the plant cover is typically patchy (excepting lichens), with
about 20–60% plant cover confined to small thin mats in suitable places, including various
mosses (Figure 20). The main species is the sedge Coleochloa setifera, forming strong clumps
20–50 cm high. These tufts have a strong attachment to the rock and can readily support the
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 33 of 114
weight of humans, but where other species are the main constituents the mats are very thin
with poor adhesion to the rock. The vegetation generally is only 20 cm high, but locally can
reach 50 cm. Common species include Crassula globularioides, lithophytic orchids and some
short wiry grasses. On some exposed slopes the stem aloe Aloe mawii and Xerophyta kirkii up
to 1.5 m high are locally found (Figure 21).
Figure 20. Rocky slopes with Coleochloa and
Merwillea (flowering) (JT).
Figure 21. Rocky slopes with Xerophyta
(JT).
In wetter sites or where there is lateral moisture seepage, the bulbous herb Merwillea lazulina
with its beautiful show of pale mauve spring flowers to 20 cm high is abundant (density up to
10 bulbs/m2), along with Hypoxis nyasica and a number of ground orchids. However, the
wettest sites on permanent or semi-permanent seepages have an almost continuous vegetation
cover consisting of thin mats held together by fibrous roots which are readily destroyed by
pigs or natural erosion (Figure 22). These areas appear to be fairly acidic and peat-like, and
support finer-leaved grasses and sedges with annual or short-lived herbs such as Xyris and
Drosera. Less acidic and more base-rich areas contain 'softer' grasses such as Panicum
inaequilatum.
Figure 22. Namuli peak from side, showing
extensive rocky slopes (JT).
Figure 23. Seepages and grassland, Muretha
plateau (JT).
Such vegetation is very variable both in density and in composition, depending on slope,
moisture availability and, partly, on aspect or degree of shelter or exposure. Although
vegetation cover is low, fires are frequent and many areas get burnt every one or two years.
Hence most of the species found are probably fire-tolerant, with any less tolerant species
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 34 of 114
confined to protected sites in gullies.
In favourable sites with somewhat deeper soils, especially close to grassland, the vegetation is
scrub-like (see Scrub above) and various woody plants are found, including Kotschya
recurvifolia, Tephrosia sp. and patches of bracken (Pteridium aquilinum), with Tetradenia
riparia in the most favoured spots. While where goats congregate on ledges there is a lusher,
more palatable plant cover with Setaria sphacelata (primarily on the western side), Panicum
sp. and various Asteraceae (Compositae) herbs.
f) Cultivated areas
This broad category consists of vegetation that is secondary or planted, and which is mostly
found below 1200 m on the western side and 1400 m on the eastern side. In the Licungo
valley, tea has been planted extensively in most suitable areas up to about 1200 m.
Interspersed and on the margins of the plantations the workers have small fields, mostly with
cassava. Narrow fringes of riparian woodland or forest remain along the larger watercourses.
In the Malema valley in the east, cultivation of cassava, maize and sweet potato is more
widespread, and there are no tea plantations. Locally some Eucalyptus alba trees have been
planted along roadsides. There are fairly extensive areas of fallow, of various ages, up to
about 1400 m, and owing to tall grass growth (mostly Hyparrhenia species) fires are both
fierce and frequent (Figure 24). Very little of what would probably have been the original
vegetation is left, although it is suspected this would have been dry to moist woodland,
depending on position and soil depth.
No detailed survey was made of these cultivated and disturbed areas,. The biodiversity
conservation value is considered to be low, except for the riparian woodlands, and given the
growing human population, any conservation management would not be easy to institute.
Figure 24. Mt Namuli from Malema valley, showing clearance and cultivation on slopes (JT).
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 35 of 114
4.3 Vegetation Mapping
Vegetation mapping, in particular the determination of the extent of moist forest and upland
grassland, was carried out using two separate techniques, and supported by ground-based
vegetation recording. The two methods were (a) manual interpretation of historical air photos,
and (b) the supervised classification of Landsat ETM+ imagery.
Forest is here defined as a continuous stand of trees with interlocking crowns, mostly over 10
m in height. This differs from the FAO definition, which covers most stands of woody plants
including what we here term woodland.
In order to characterise the vegetation types, 67 vegetation samples were recorded at what
were regarded visually as characteristic or good examples of the major types. At each
recorded point a GPS reading was made, the structure recorded, the main environmental
attributes (e.g. soil type, slope, fire or disturbance), and the major species present along with
an indication of their cover-abundance. From the vegetation samples and notes, 181 GPS
points with clear vegetation categorization were used for classification of the digitally-
analysed Landsat imagery.
a) Manual Interpretation
The only available air photos are from October 1969 at a scale of around 1:43,000, although
subsequent analysis and measurements from the 1:50,000 map sheets suggest that at the
altitude of the Namuli plateau (1800 m) the scale is actually around 1:35,500.
Air photos of Mt Namuli, 1:43,000 scale, 1969 – row 3014/ 001–005
row 3014/ 081–087
row 3014/ 091–096
Manual interpretation of forest extent was carried out from the air photos using field
knowledge. Unfortunately, the overlap between adjacent rows of photos is not large (about
15%) leading to area distortion in places, hence areas could be overestimated. Area
determinations were done using a 1:50,000 scale dot planimeter and applying a correction
factor of × 0.5041 as the actual photo-scale was close to 1:35,500.
The total forested area is approximately 1250 ha (Table 4), the majority being montane forest
at an altitude of 1700 m or higher, including the extensive Manho forest where much of the
survey work was focussed. The only other figure available, from Ryan et al. (1999), also
based on the same air photos, gave a total forested area of around 1300 ha. Of particular
interest for conservation is what is here called medium-altitude forest, that is forest at 1600 m
altitude or below. Very little of this was noted on the photos when used in conjunction with
the topographic map – a patch of 8 ha on the eastern ramparts, a more extensive area of 77 ha
along the base of the southwest-trending valley below Mt Pesse, part of a continuum to higher
altitude forest on the slopes above, and around 50 ha in the west-facing gorges above the
Licungo valley.
The area of Ukalini forest, nestled below the main Namuli peaks, was estimated at around 80
ha from the 1969 airphotos (including the 'wings' extending up gullies to the north and to the
NE along the base of the peaks), all from 1500–1850 m altitude. Interestingly, the Ukusini
forest, where Vincent camped in 1933 and which he implies was then moderately extensive, is
only visible as a very narrow riparian fringe in the 1969 photos.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 36 of 114
The extent of upland grassland on peat (as opposed to short grassland or sedges on shallow
rock) is difficult to determine from the airphotos, but is estimated at about 300 ha scattered
across three blocks (Table 4), the largest being on the Muretha plateau (170 ha). There were
no apparent changes between 1969 and 2007.
Much of the Malema valley was not wooded or forested in 1969, but covered in what was
probably bracken or secondary bush. A significant proportion is now cultivated. However,
there is little evidence for significant clearance of forest cover from 1969 to 2007, just small
patches having disappeared or margins pushed back slightly, such as at the "mouth" of the
Ukalini forest.
Table 4. Extent of vegetation types from airphoto interpretation.
extent (ha)
Montane forest >1600m 1115
Forest <1600m 135
Total forest area 1250
Grassland 300
b) Landsat Analysis
A vegetation map of Mt Namuli was developed using a Landsat ETM+ image from July 2005
(path/row 166-071, 30 m resolution), registered to UTM Zone 37S (WGS84) with radiometric
and geometric corrections performed (Figure 25). No further radiometric normalisation was
done and an analysis was made using digital number rather than converted radiance values.
The image was displayed using different band combinations enabling it to be analysed
visually and to determine spectral characteristics of the different vegetation types.
The normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) was computed to separate areas of dense
green vegetation and shading due to topographic effects in the image. An unsupervised
classification was also done to determine which vegetation types could or could not be
spectrally separated.
Results from this first pre-classification analysis, along with a set of 181 ground control
points and expert knowledge of the area, were used to extract a training data set representative
of the vegetation types of interest. A supervised classification procedure was then applied to
the image using a maximum likelihood algorithm built in ERDAS Imagine software. Six
bands of the Landsat TM image were used, excluding the thermal band from the original set.
A majority 3 x 3 statistical filter was applied to the classified image to smooth the results and
remove noise.
The supervised classification aimed to discriminate four major vegetation types: montane
forest, bare rock and grassland, plantation, and open woodland/secondary vegetation. The
extent of these four vegetation types is shown in Table 5 and Figure 26.
A contingency matrix using spectral signatures was developed to assess classification
accuracy based on spectral characteristics alone. The main forest vegetation type (Montane
forest) proved to have high spectral separability, with over 90% of correctly classified forest
pixels, giving good thematic accuracy to the map. The minimum values were for open
woodland. It proved too difficult to separate out grassland from vegetation on shallow soils
and low bushland up on the plateau.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 37 of 114
The discrepancy in results of forest extent between the two methods might be thought to be
due to forest loss, but careful comparison in the field of the air photos with forest margins
seen in 2007 showed few significant differences. It is far more likely due to either a differing
definition of forest used in airphoto analysis compared to the algorithm used in the digital
analysis, or to an over-estimation of forest due to inclusion of forest gaps and indented
margins in "forest" when using a dot planimeter. However, the difference is large, and shows
that caution must be exercised in determining change detection using different methods.
Table 5. Extent of main vegetation types in Namuli
area as determined from 2005 Landsat imagery.
extent (ha)
Montane forest 964
Bare soil/grassland 5,062
Plantation/cultivation 674
Open woodland/secondary 11,906
Figure 25. Corrected Landsat image showing broad project area. Green dots indicate
vegetation recording localities.
c) Change Detection
Historical satellite data for Mt Namuli was acquired in order to explore possible changes in
the extent of montane forest. A Landsat MSS image (60 m resolution) from September 1972
was visually compared with the July 2005 Landsat TM image used to create the vegetation
map (Figure 27). Cloud cover in the earlier image limits interpretation on the north-western
area, but the eastern and southern boundaries are seen to be similar over the 33 year period
with no significant differences observed.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 38 of 114
Figure 26. Vegetation map of Namuli area from Landsat TM interpretation.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 39 of 114
Landsat TM image - July 2005 Landsat MSS image - 1972
Figure 27. Landsat imagery of Namuli massif over 33 years, showing forest extent.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 40 of 114
5. PLANTS
5.1 Introduction
During the two Darwin expeditions fertile plant specimens were collected from forest,
grassland, shrubland, wetland and rocky habitats across much of the northern part of the
Namuli massif. There was no particular collecting strategy, other than to gather as
comprehensive a collection as possible of fertile identifiable material from the full range of
accessible habitats. In addition, numerous sterile specimens were also collected for vegetation
classification purposes, particularly from the forest. An indication of the collecting localities
is given in Figure 29 showing GPS waypoints from both trips. The Muretha plateau and
Manho forest were particularly well-covered, but areas below 1700 m were little-collected.
The total of numbered collections with notes was 725, most with three duplicates. Complete
sets are deposited in the National Herbarium in Maputo (LMA) and at Kew, while a third and
fourth (incomplete) set are deposited in herbaria at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane
(LMU) and Zomba (MAL).
Figure 28. Pavetta sp., a possible new
species of shrub from Namuli (TH).
A list of species recorded on the Namuli
massif above 1300 m during the two project
expeditions is given in Annex 2, with an
altitudinal lower limit of 1000 m on the
western side of the massif. This includes
own sight records from the vegetation
survey. The total number of taxa recorded is 420, of which 147 are trees or shrubs. This total
comprises 24 Pteridophytes (ferns and fern-allies), 1 Gymnosperm, 82 monocotyledons and
313 dicotyledons. There are an additional 52 species of Pteridophyte, 15 monocotyledons and
47 dicotyledons listed in Flora Zambesiaca as being from the Serra de Gurué or Namuli areas
(Annex 3), bringing the possible total species list to over 530. However, these additional
species are not included in Annex 2 (apart from the known endemics) as it was not always
clear where each were found or at what altitude.
5.2 New and Endemic Species
Five collections made on these trips are believed to represent taxa new to science (Isoglossa
sp. nov. (Acanthaceae), Crotalaria sp. nov. near C. argyrobioides, Indigofera sp. nov. near I.
longipedicellata (both Fabaceae: Papilionoideae) and the parasite Englerina sp. nov. near E.
longiflora (Loranthaceae). A collection of a Pavetta (from a different part of the genus to
Pavetta gurueensis) is also being studied to determine whether it represents a new species
(Figure 28). However, taxonomic studies have not yet been carried out to determine exact
taxonomic status and formal description is awaited.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 41 of 114
Three of the new species (Isoglossa, Crotalaria, Indigofera) come from genera well known
for montane endemics. Isoglossa species tend to be found in forest and undergo periodic but
infrequent mass flowering, where the whole population flowers together. Such a trait reduces
the chances of making a fertile collection and may be why this species had not been located
before. It is proabable that these three new species are endemic to Namuli, and perhaps
immediately-adjacent mountains.
Figure 29. Namuli massif showing 2007 collecting localities.
Including the putative new species, there are now 16 taxa thought to be endemic to Mt
Namuli and the immediately surrounding area (Table 6). Two of the endemics are succulents
(Aloe torrei and Euphorbia namuliensis, although the latter has only been found at lower
altitudes), three are woody plants (both Pavetta spp. and Dombeya lastii), whilst six are
Papilionoid legumes. Only four of the previously recorded endemics were found on these
expeditions, which may be due to the restricted altitude range we collected in. Crotalaria
torrei and Rhynchosia torrei were locally abundant on the plateau. Specimen of the grass
Alloeochaete namuliensis were found on rocky ridges on the plateau; this species was
previously only known from a single type collection. Plectranthus guruensis was collected
from a narrow patch of riverine forest on the Rio Licungo west of the plateau. Aloe torrei,
Crotalaria torrei, Rhynchosia torrei and Alloeochaete namuliensis had previously been
collected from the rocky grassland plateau and some lower slopes, Rhynchosia cliviorum
subsp. gurueensis was collected from the margins of high-altitude streams, Dombeya lastii
from woodland at lower altitudes, Plectranthus guruensis from the Malema valley, and
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 42 of 114
Euphorbia namuliensis had been collected amongst low-altitude granite outcrops. A field
identification guide for these and other range-restricted species from Namuli has been made
(Harris 2008).
Table 6. Endemic plant species from the Mt Namuli and Gurué area.
Family Species date coll. Notes
Acanthaceae Isoglossa sp. nov. 2007 to be described
Acanthaceae Sclerochiton hirsutus Vollesen 1979
Aloaceae Aloe torrei I.Verd. & Christian 1962
Euphorbiaceae Euphorbia namuliensis Bruyns 2004
Fabaceae: Papilionoideae Crotalaria torrei Polhill 1943, 2007
Fabaceae: Papilionoideae Crotalaria sp. nov. near C. argyrobioides 2007 to be described
Fabaceae: Papilionoideae Indigofera sp. nov. near I. longipedicellata, but
ovary hairy
2007 to be described
Fabaceae: Papilionoideae Rhynchosia clivorum S.Moore subsp. gurueenis
Verdc.
1944
Fabaceae: Papilionoideae Rhynchosia torrei Verdc. 1941, 2007 also coll.1968
Fabaceae: Papilionoideae Tephrosia whyteana Baker f. subsp. gemina
Brummitt
1944
Lamiaceae Plectranthus guruensis Paton 1979, 2007 in press
Loranthaceae Englerina sp. nov. near E. longiflora 2008 to be described
Poaceae Alloeochaete namuliensis Chippendall 1943, 2007
Rubiaceae Pavetta gurueënsis Bridson 1944
Rubiaceae Pavetta sp. nov? 2007 uncertain status
Sterculiaceae Dombeya lastii K.Schum. 1883
A preliminary listing shows over 30 type specimens from Namuli (Table 7), specimens from
which a species was first described. Many (21) were collected by Joseph Last in 1886 (see
Figure 30), with significant additions from the collections made by Torre between 1940 and
1966. A detailed listing, obtained by going through various databases, has not yet been done.
Figure 30. Original herbarium collection (Kew, partial image) of
Pseuderanthemun viscosum, collected by Joseph Last from Mt Namuli in 1886.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 43 of 114
5.3 New Species Records for Mozambique
When the species list in Annex 2 was compared with the Sabonet national checklist for
Mozambique (Da Silva, Izidine & Amude 2004), which however reflects only collections at
the National Herbarium (LMA) and University herbarium (LMU) in Maputo, it was found
that 40% of them were not on the national list. After comparing Annex 2 with both the
Sabonet checklist and with specimen citations from Flora Zambesicaca treatments (published
or in press), 26 new records for Mozambique were noted (Table 8), many representing
significant range extensions. Northern Mozambique is known to be poorly-known botanically
and patchily collected, which is part of the justification for the present study.
Table 7. List (incomplete) of plant type specimens originally collected from Mt Namuli area.
Family Species date coll. notes
Aspleniaceae (fern) Asplenium brevisquamulosum Hieron. Last 1886 ?? good name
Cyatheaceae (fern) Cyathea mossambicensis Baker Last 1886
Acanthaceae Brillantaisia subulugurica Burkill Last 1886
now synonym of B. cicatricosa
Lindau
Acanthaceae Pseuderanthemum subviscosum
(C.B.Clarke) Stapf
Last 1886
Acanthaceae Sclerochiton hirsutus Vollesen de Koning 1979
Aloaceae Aloe torrei I.Verd. & Christian Torre 1944, 1962
Anthericaceae Chlorophytum brevipes Baker Last 1886
now synonym of C. comosum
(Thunb.) Jacq.
Asclepiadaceae Brachystelma nutans Bruyns Bruyns 2004
Asclepiadaceae Ceropegia namuliensis Bruyns Bruyns 2004
Asteraceae Helichrysum brassii Brenan
var. aggregatum Brenan
Last 1886
Asteraceae Helichrysum lastii Engl. Last 1886
not clear what this is now
Asteraceae Sphacophyllum lastii O.Hoffm. Last 1886
now synonym of Anisopappus
chinensis (L.) Hook.& Arn. var.
dentatus (DC.) Ortiz, Paiva &
Rodr.Oubina
Asteraceae Vernonia pterocarpa Oliv.& Hiern Last 1886 Last specimen on same sheet as
type
Crassulaceae Kalanchoe laurensii Raym.-Hamet Last 1886 now synonym of K. elizae Berger
Euphorbiaceae Euphorbia namuliensis Bruyns Bruyns 2004
Fab: Papilionoideae Crotalaria torrei Polhill Torre 1943, 1968
Fab: Papilionoideae Lotus namulensis Brand Last 1886
Fab: Papilionoideae Rhynchosia clivorum S.Moore
subsp. gurueenis Verdc.
Mendonça 1944
Fab: Papilionoideae Rhynchosia torrei Verdc. Torre 1941
Fab: Papilionoideae Tephrosia whyteana Baker f.
subsp. gemina Brummitt
1944
Gentianaceae Swertia lastii Engl. Last 1886
now synonym of S. abyssinica
Hochst.
Iridaceae Aristea paniculata Pax / A. lastii Baker Last 1886 now synonym of A. ecklonii Baker
Lamiaceae Plectranthus guruensis A.J.Paton de Koning 1979,
2007
Paton, in press
Ochnaceae Pleuroridgea lastii Tiegh. Last 1886
now synonym of Brackenridgea
zanguebarica Oliv.
Orchidaceae Mystacidium pedunculatum Rolfe Last 1886 Last specimen one of 3 syntypes.
Now synonym of Angraecopsis
parviflora (Thouars) Schltr.
Orchidaceae Angraecopsis parviflora (Thouars) Schltr.
Poaceae Alloeochaete namuliensis Chippendall Torre 1943
Rubiaceae Oldenlandia oliveriana K.Schum. Last 1886 now synonym of O. rupicola
(Sond.) O.Kuntze var. rupicola
Rubiaceae Pavetta gurueënsis Bridson Mendonça 1944
Rubiaceae Tricalysia lastii K.Schum. Last 1886 now synonym of T. coriacea
(Benth.) Hiern subsp. nyassae
(Hiern) Bridson
Scrophulariaceae Buchnera lastii Engl. Last 1886
Scrophulariaceae Buchnera namuliensis Skan Last 1886
Sterculiaceae Dombeya lastii K.Schum. Last 1886
Xyridaceae Xyris makuensis N.E.Br. Last 1886
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 44 of 114
Xyris peteri and Helixanthera cf. verruculosa (if confirmed) are new records for the Flora
Zambeziaca area, while the collection of Erica simii may represent the northernmost extent of
that species' range. This is unusual as for most species collected on Namuli, if their ranges
extend further south they usually also extend into East or West Africa.
It is interesting to note that five species previously believed to be endemic to Mt Mulanje
were collected on Namuli during the two expeditions (Table 8), indicating both the linkages
between these montane areas and the extent of under-collection on mountains in Mozambique
compared to Malawi. However, their floras are by no means identical as 91 plant species
collected on Namuli have not been collected from Mulanje (Strugnell 2006). Five out of the
six Erica species found on Namuli are not recorded for Mulanje; there are twice as many
Crotalaria species recorded for Namuli as for Mulanje, and eight out of the ten Crotalaria
species found on Namuli are not known from Mulanje. Two species of Rinorea are found on
Namuli compared to only one on Mulanje, possibly indicating an influence of lower altitude
forest with the marginally greater proximity to the coast. Both Mt Mulanje and Mt Namuli
have substantial numbers of mountain-endemic species.
Table 8. Taxa collected under this project representing new records for Mozambique
according to Flora Zambesiaca or recent literature. Taxa previously thought to be
endemic to Mt Mulanje in Malawi are also shown.
Family Species previously Mt
Mulanje endemic
Acanthaceae Asystasia malawiana Brummitt & Chisumpa
Acanthaceae Brachystephanus africanus S. Moore
Apiaceae Pimpinella mulanjensis C.C.Towns
Asphodelaceae Kniphofia splendida E.A.Bruce
Asteraceae Bothriocline cf. glomerata (O.Hoffm.& Muschl.) C.Jeffrey
Asteraceae Senecio peltophorus Brenan
Ericaceae Erica silvatica (Engl.) Beentje
Euphorbiaceae Drypetes gerrardii Hutch. var. grandifolia Radcl. Sm.
Fab: Papilionoideae Argyrolobium rupestre (E.Mey.) Walp. subsp. aberdaricum (Harms)
Polhill
Fab: Papilionoideae Kotschya recurvifolia (Taub.) F.White subsp. recurvifolia
Lamiaceae Micromeria imbricata (Forssk.) C.Chr. var. imbricata
Lamiaceae Plectranthus mandalensis Baker
Lamiaceae Stachys didymantha Brenan
Loranthaceae Englerina kwaiensis (Engl.) Polhill & Wiens – new record for FZ area
Loranthaceae Erianthemum schelei Tiegh.
Loranthaceae Helixanthera cf. verruculosa Wiens & Polhill
Orchidaceae Epipactis africana Rendle
Orchidaceae Jumellea usambarensis J.J.Wood
Orchidaceae Polystachia transvaalensis Schltr.
Orchidaceae Roeperocharis bennettiana Rchb. f.
Poaceae Panicum wiehei Renvoize
Proteaceae Faurea wentzeliana Engl.
Urticaceae Laportea alatipes Hook.f.
Urticaceae Pilea rivularis Wedd.
Velloziaceae Xerophyta splendens (Rendle) N.Menezes
Xyridaceae Xyris peteri Pollens. – new record for FZ area
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 45 of 114
Over the years it has often been speculated that the Mulanje cedar, Widdringtonia whytei,
belived to be endemic to Mt Mulanje in Malawi, may also be found on some mountains in
adjacent parts of Mozambique. Mts Chiperone and Namuli have sometimes been mentioned
in this regard. However, no sign of either Widdringtonia species was found on these massifs.
5.4 Red Data Status
Preliminary global conservation assessments were carried out in 2005/6 by the Kew
Millennium Seed Bank enhancement team of species believed to be under threat on Mt
Mulanje in Malawi. This was done using IUCN Red Data guidelines, GIS and specimen data
available at Kew. Thirteen of these species that also occur on Namuli are shown in Table 9,
although four were not recorded from Mozambique prior to the Darwin expeditions. These
range extensions may affect the species' global status once reassessed.
In 2008, after the Darwin expeditions, six species were preliminarily evaluated at Kew for
global conservation status by MSc Conservation students from Imperial College, London
using the same methods, bringing the total number of species evaluated to 20. These
assessments show Alloeochaete namuliensis, Crotalaria torrei and Plectranthus guruensis all
as Critically Endangered under criteria B1 or B2, while Aloe torrei, Senecio peltophorus and
Exacum zombense were considered Endangered, again under criterion B1. Plectranthus
gurueënsis is particularly restricted, being known from only two sites, one of which has been
converted to agriculture and the other is a narrow strip of riverine forest with farming
activities on three sides. Crotalaria torrei, while restricted to the grassland plateau, is
relatively abundant within this habitat.
Table 9. Global conservation assessments for taxa from Mt Namuli.
MSB 20051 Kew 20082
Aloaceae Aloe torrei Endangered B1a
Anacardiaceae Rhus acuminatissima Near threatened
Apiaceae Peucedenum nyassicum Near threatened
Apiaceae Pimpinella mulanjensis 3 Critically Endangered
Asteraceae Senecio peltophorus Endangered B1a
Campanulaceae Lobelia blantyrensis Endangered
Crassulaceae Crassula globularioides 3 Near threatened
Fab: Papilionoideae Crotalaria torrei Critically Endangered B1a
Fab: Papilionoideae Indigofera lyallii subsp. nyassica Near threatened
Gentianaceae Exacum zombense Endangered B1a
Iridaceae Dierama formosum Near threatened
Lamiaceae Plectranthus guruensis Critically Endangered B1a
Lamiaceae Plectranthus mandalensis 3 Endangered
Molluginaceae Corrigiola drymarioides Near threatened
Poaceae Alloeochaete namuliensis Critically Endangered B2a
Proteaceae Faurea racemosa Endangered
Rubiaceae Coffea mufindensis subsp. australis Vulnerable
Sapotaceae Synsepalum muelleri Critically Endangered
Thymelaeaceae Gnidia chapmanii Endangered
Velloziaceae Xerophyta splendens 3 Endangered
1. Global conservation assessment carried out on threatened species from Mt Mulanje by Millennium Seed Bank
enhancement team (Kew) 2005, prior to recent Namuli records.
2. Global conservation assessment done by MSc students at Kew, 2008.
3. Taxa since found in Mozambique, representing significant range extension.
Only one of the species listed (Erica pleiotricha, VU D2) appears on the Mozambique Red
Data List (Izidine & Bandeira 2002); the conservation assessment is national.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 46 of 114
Pigs kept on the mountain tend to uproot plants in the seepage areas, which could be a minor
threat to taxa restricted to seepage habitats such as Exacum zombense, only known from N
Mozambique and S Malawi.
5.5 Use of Plant Species on Namuli
There was limited evidence of harvesting of plant materials on the mountain. Kniphofia
splendida in the grassland was harvested to make matting and baskets, there was evidence of
selective felling of Faurea wentzeliana for timber, and Nuxia congesta is used for hut
construction. The bark of Protea welwitschii is collected as a medicinal treatment of hernias,
although there was no evidence of this affecting its population, while a bark infusion from
Bersama abyssinica was also used medicinally. Species of Hypoxis were said to be collected
as medicine. The fruits of both Syzygium guineense and Syzygium cordatum are eaten.
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 47 of 114
6. BIRDS
6.1 Historical Background
Mt Namuli and Mt Mulanje are at the southern end of the Tanzania–Malawi montane
subgroup, with several bird species reaching their southern limits here. Most of what we know
of the avifauna of Namuli dates from 1932, when Jack Vincent spent three weeks collecting
birds for the British Museum (Vincent 1933a, 1933–36). The area was not revisited until
1998, when Ryan et al. (1999a) spent a week there. Most of northern Mozambique remains
very poorly known with many areas completely unexplored. By contrast, the avifauna of
adjacent Malawi has been studied by many people over more than 100 years, and a detailed
ecological account of its avifauna and its distribution has been published recently (Dowsett-
Lemaire & Dowsett 2006).
Vincent camped on Namuli in the winter months from 21 July to 10 August 1932 when some
intra-African migrants are totally absent. He used a single forest base camp at 1400 m (4600
feet) on the Nanchili stream, just below the Ukalini cliff and forest. From there he collected
mainly at higher altitudes from 1370 m to nearly 2000 m on the Murukuni ridge (Figure 10).
About 68 different bird species were recorded, of which 53 were represented by a collection
of some 250 specimens; full details were published in Ibis in 1933–36.
He collected two bird species new to science – the enigmatic Dapple-throat Modulatrix
orostruthus (initially placed in a bulbul genus Phyllastrephus and more recently either in
Modulatrix or in its own genus Arcanator, probably a babbler), and the Namuli Apalis Apalis
lynesi (Figure 31). The latter is endemic to Namuli but is a close relative of Bar-throated
Apalis A. thoracica, a forest species of eastern and southern Africa with many geographical
races. He also discovered populations of the endangered Cholo Alethe Alethe choloensis (a
species endemic to SE Malawi and adjacent N Mozambique, Figure 32) and of the race
belcheri of Green Barbet Stactolaema olivacea, shared with Thyolo Mountain in S Malawi,
which is now almost totally deforested (Dowsett-Lemaire & Dowsett 2006).
Figures 31 & 32. Namuli Apalis (left) and
Thyolo Alethe (right) (M. Melo, F. Dowsett-
Lemaire).
Peter Ryan and five colleagues spent a week on the mountain from 27 November to 4
December 1998 (Ryan et al. 1999a), spending more time at lower altitudes on the Nanchili
stream in "Ukusini" Forest (with camps at 1250 m near the bridge, and down to 1160 m) and
just three days on the lower edge of Ukalini Forest (at "1550 m", more likely 1580 m). On one
day they visited the Muretha Plateau and some of Manho Forest. They also spent a few hours
Biodiversity of Mt Namuli, Mozambique, 2009, page 48 of 114
exploring a small patch of relict forest at 1300–1400 m on the drier slopes just above Gurué.
Some 115 species were recorded from 1200 m and above, excluding birds of secondary
habitat on the lower slopes or around Gurué town. Mist-netting was carried out in Ukalini and
Ukusini; 64 birds of 16 species were caught, but apparently not ringed. Three participants
carried out 72 point counts, from which exceptionally high estimates of densities of the
commoner bird species were proposed.
Martim P. de Melo and two colleagues paid a short visit to Namuli in December 2001 (Melo
et al. 2001). Walking all the way from Gurué, they spent two days in Ukalini Forest (2–4
December) and two days on Muretha (4–6 December). A limited amount of mist-netting was
done, ringing 22 of the 37 birds caught. The number of bird species they identified at Ukalini
and Muretha is about 46.
The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago collected birds on Namuli in July–August
2003 from a base camp at 1707 m (apparently at the edge of Manho Forest) and another in the
Malema Valley at Murabue (1111 m), outside our study area. A joint expedition with the
American Museum of Natural History in November 2004 also collected bird specimens, but
these have not yet been identified and details are not available.
The present Darwin project has had two expeditions to Namuli. During the first expedition,
two weeks was spent on the mountain from 22 May–5 June 2007 by Ron Demey (for BirdLife
International) and Carlos Bento (Natural History Museum Maputo, 1 week only). The main
base camp was on the Muretha Plateau at 1860 m with another camp next to the Malema river
bridge at 1250 m. Demey explored the Muretha Plateau and parts of Manho Forest (Demey
2007), with a few hours in Ukalini Forest and a few days around the Rio Malema (1250 m
and below). Taking 1200 m as a lower altitudinal limit, he noted some 94 species. Bento
concentrated on netting and measuring birds from a site at the edge of Manho Forest.
Both the 2001 visit by Melo and that by Ron Demey in 2007 were either too short or ill-timed
to study bird densities. One of the main purposes of the second survey in November 2007 was
to re-evaluate densities of a number of key species for which the conservation of Namuli is
especially important, and search for other forest or grassland bird species that might have
been overlooked in previous visits.
This second expedition comprised Françoise Dowsett-Lemaire (for BirdLife International),
Tiwonge Mzumara (for MMCT) and Katrina Cook (Natural History Museum, Tring, UK).
Although the same two base camps were used, more extensive visits were made through the
Manho Forest area, and two days were spent in the Ukalini Forest. Dowsett-Lemaire and
Mzumara noted bird observations and behaviour, while Cook had two nets set up near the
main camp from which bird specimens were collected. A list of net captures and
measurements is given in Annex 4. Of particular interest was the recapture in November 2007
of what was probably a male Yellow White-eye, caught and ringed as an adult in December
2001 (Melo et al. 2001). Wing and weight measurements were very similar to those from six
years earlier, and give an indication of longevity.
6.2 Methods
In addition to opportunistic observations, particular attention was paid to the location of key
species such as Cholo Alethe or Green Barbet. Many species were tape-recorded, and