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Location Malawi, Southern
Central coordinates 35o 6.00' East  16o 1.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 450 ha
Altitude 900 - 1,100m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

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



Site description Most of the natural vegetation in Thyolo District disappeared with the establishment of extensive tea estates around the beginning of the twentieth century. It must have consisted largely of moist Brachystegia or transition woodland (miombo interspersed with evergreen species), with rainforest in stream depressions and on the summit of Thyolo Mountain. Forest existed in a continuum down to the lower levels (c.1,000 m) around the mountain. This is no longer the situation, but a dozen patches of lowland rainforest have been preserved privately amid the tea fields to the north-east and within 2–10 km of Thyolo Mountain. They lie in stream depressions, at c.1,050 m, with a tall canopy of mainly Albizia gummifera and Khaya anthotheca (syn. K. nyasica). The three most important patches visited in the 1980s were on the estates of Mwalantunzi (93 ha), Namingomba (80 ha) and Mikundi (40 ha).

Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Some 50 species have been recorded so far; these forest remnants are important for their relatively high densities of Apalis chariessa (6–7 pairs/100 ha) and Oriolus chlorocephalus (4–7 pairs/100 ha). In addition, one species of the Zambezian biome occurs (Table 3) while five Afrotropical Highlands biome species are winter visitors; see Table 3.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Green-headed Oriole Oriolus chlorocephalus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Apalis Apalis chariessa resident  1999  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry -
nature conservation and research -
water management -

References Dowsett-Lemaire (1989a, 1990).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Thyolo tea estates. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/12/2014

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