|Central coordinates||35o 1.38' East 15o 50.52' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A3|
|Altitude||1,250 - 1,533m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
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.
|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|
|2013||very high||not assessed||low|
|Agricultural expansion and intensification||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 area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Soche||Forest Reserve||363||is identical to site||363|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
References Benson and Benson (1977), Dowsett-Lemaire (1989a, b).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Soche Mountain Forest Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/04/2015
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