Southern Rift Montane Woodlands

About the Area

The Great Rift Valley is nothing but a deep depression in the Earth that's 4,000 miles (6,400 km) long. At its southern end lie numerous mountains and a patchwork of grasslands and forests called Southern Rift Montane Woodlands - home to many endemic plants and animals.
Many peaks in this ecoregion are upto 3,000 meters high, covered with thick vegetation. These habitats, combined with the high degree of isolation, support a rich array of endemic species, including some that are restricted to single mountains.

Local Species

The endangered Mulanje cedar (Wilddringtonia whytei) is among the most well known plant species found in this ecoregion. Bird species include the Namuli apalis (Apalis lynesi), Cholo alethe (Alethe cholensis), and Sharpe's greenbul (Phyllastrephus alfredi). Also found here are reptiles such as Ngosi Volcano Chameleon (Chamaeleo fuelleborni), South African Stumptail Chameleon (Rhampholeon nchisiensis), and Eumecia johnstoni.

Threats
Much of the ecoregion was converted to tea plantations and other agricultural uses some time ago. For the most part, what remains of these forests has been protected since the 1920s. Conversion to agriculture, firewood collection, wild fires, and invasion by alien species are all real threats.

Resources
Size:
33,500 sq. km (13,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Montane Grasslands and Shrublands

Geographic Location:
Southeastern Africa: Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered

Quiz Time!

Can elephants be dangerous inhabitants to thickly forested areas?

Answer:
Elephants can uproot trees to find food, behaviour that can thin out woodlands. Wooded areas can then become open grasslands with a few trees, which is suitable habitat for herbivores.

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