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Location Malawi, Southern
Central coordinates 35o 1.38' East  15o 50.52' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 460 ha
Altitude 1,250 - 1,533m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (WESM) (Affiliate)



Site description Soche Mountain is situated right on the edge of the city of Blantyre and is one of several isolated peaks that form part of the Shire Highlands on the eastern side of the Rift Valley in southern Malawi. It rises to a height of 1,533 m and supported some 150 ha of mid-altitude rainforest in the early 1980s; the Brachystegia woodland on the lower slopes provided a buffer zone against human pressure, but the south-east slopes (both woodland and forest) have been laid bare. The 30-m-tall forest on the ridge is fairly luxuriant and still largely intact, with Albizia schimperana, Cassipourea malosana, Chrysophyllum gorungosanum, Drypetes gerrardii and two strangling Ficus spp. as dominant trees.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Bar-tailed Trogon Apaloderma vittatum resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pale Batis Batis soror resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-tailed Crested-flycatcher Elminia albonotata resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Apalis Apalis chariessa resident  1999  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Stripe-cheeked Greenbul Andropadus milanjensis resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Thyolo Alethe Alethe choloensis resident  1999  present  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
Orange Ground-thrush Zoothera gurneyi resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Spotted Ground-thrush Zoothera guttata resident  1999  present  A1  Endangered 
White-starred Robin Pogonocichla stellata resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bertrand's Weaver Ploceus bertrandi resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-faced Crimson-wing Cryptospiza reichenovii resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Swee Waxbill Estrilda melanotis resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey-faced Citril Serinus hypostictus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Soche Forest Reserve 363 is identical to site 363  

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry -
water management -

Other biodiversity Vegetation: Soche is one of only two sites for the Malawi endemic shrub Buxus nyasica, which is common in the forest understorey (it has also been recorded very locally on Mchese, northern Mulanje). A tall Cola tree, collected sterile, probably represents a new species and fertile material needs collecting urgently.

References Benson and Benson (1977), Dowsett-Lemaire (1989a, b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Soche Mountain Forest Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/10/2014

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