email a friend
printable version
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.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Some 75 species have been recorded; of the East African Coast biome species, Batis soror is known from the woodland while Oriolus chlorocephalus has been recorded in the past, probably as visitor. Soche is still important for the occurrence of Zoothera guttata (of the Malawi endemic race belcheri), Alethe choloensis and Apalis chariessa; the first has been recorded breeding (the only nest record in Malawi comes from Soche) and was still present in 2000, the other two are common.

Non-bird 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.

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 

IBA Monitoring

2013 very high not assessed low

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  No management planning has taken place  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  low 

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 -

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

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Soche Mountain Forest Reserve. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife