|Location||Zimbabwe, Mashonaland West Province|
|Central coordinates||29o 35.00' East 15o 45.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A3, A4i, A4ii|
|Altitude||300 - 1,288m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Site description The Zambezi river, one of Africa’s four great rivers, is 2,700 km long; draining a huge basin of 1.4 million km². For almost its entire length along Zimbabwe’s northern border it lies in a rift valley, which is called the Gwembe trough at Lake Kariba, and the Zambezi valley downstream of the Kariba gorge. From the northern exit of the Kariba gorge at Nyamuomba Island (16°22’S 28°51’E) to the western entrance of the Mupata gorge (15°38’S 30°02’E), the river flows eastwards through 178 km of flat wildlife country, and forms the international border with Zambia to the north. The rift valley consists of a flat plain (at an altitude of 350–600 m) flanked by rugged escarpments that run parallel to the river, nearby in Zambia (highest point 1,286 m) and far to the south in Zimbabwe (highest point 1,288 m). The valley floor is much more extensive on the Zimbabwean side, where it covers an area of c.6,825 km². In some places the Zambezi river is 2 km wide or more, and it flows around many sandy islands. The river water is considered to be very clean, if rather nutrient-poor.There are three main vegetation-types in the valley. Most of the valley floor supports mopane woodland, which in places can reach impressive proportions. The river’s alluvial deposits support riparian woodland, dominated by Faidherbia but including many other trees such as Kigelia, Lonchocarpus and Trichilia. The third main vegetation-type is colloquially known as ‘jesse’ bush, but is correctly labelled as mixed-species layered dry forest. This is deciduous and has a thicket-like understorey. It is rich in both tree and shrub species, for example Pterocarpus, Xeroderris, Commiphora, Berchemia, Combretum and Acacia among many others. The whole of the middle Zambezi valley on the Zimbabwe side is under Parks and Wild Life Estate, except for about 50 km² of commercial land around Chirundu.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Rock Pratincole Glareola nuchalis||winter||-||320 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris||winter||-||136 individuals||-||A1, A4i||Near Threatened|
|Lilian's Lovebird Agapornis lilianae||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Near Threatened|
|Racket-tailed Roller Coracias spatulatus||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Southern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicoides||breeding||1998||10,500 adults only||good||A4ii||Least Concern|
|Meves's Glossy-starling Lamprotornis mevesii||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|White-headed Black-chat Myrmecocichla arnoti||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|White-breasted Sunbird Nectarinia talatala||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Shelley's Sunbird Nectarinia shelleyi||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Broad-tailed Paradise-whydah Vidua obtusa||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Chewore||Safari Area||33,900||protected area contained by site||33,900|
|Hurungwe||Safari Area||289,400||protected area contained by site||289,400|
|Mana Pools||National Park||219,600||protected area contained by site||219,600|
|Mana Pools National Park, Sapi and Chewore Safari Areas||World Heritage Site||676,600||protected area overlaps with site||677,500|
|Sapi||Safari Area||118,000||protected area contained by site||118,000|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial - terrestrial||47%|
|Wetlands (inland)||Ephemeral pools and wetlands; Sand dunes and beaches - riverine||-|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||-|
Other biodiversity All individuals of Diceros bicornis (CR) in the valley were either killed by poachers or translocated between 1984 and 1994. A small amount of poaching continues, on elephants and antelopes; it is thought that there is considerable poaching of fish from the Zambian side. The valley supports a full range of predators, including wild dog Lycaon pictus (EN). The river is famous for its huge numbers of hippos Hippopotamus amphibius (several thousands) and crocodiles Crocodylus niloticus.
References Coppinger et al. (1988), Du Toit (1982), Harrison et al. (1997), Mundy et al. (1994), Mundy and Rockingham-Gill (no date), Williams et al. (1989).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Middle Zambezi Valley. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/04/2014
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