Identifying priority areas

Mangrove forests, dugong, whales, turtles, corals...

The 8 sites of global importance were selected because of the following main features:
3. Lamu Archipelago
  • Extensive mangrove formations in delta, creeks and basins (345 km2) with 160 km2 in pristine condition.
  • Breeding populations of Olive Ridley, Hawksbill and Green turtles and Dugong.
  • Most northerly coral reefs in the ecoregion.
  • Colony of 10,000 Roseate Terns and breeding site for Ospreys and Pelicans.

5. Mida Creek-Malindi
  • High coral diversity (>60 genera)
  • Important bird feeding area (including Flamingos).
  • Muddy high nutrient bay with sudden drop-off providing a nursery for sharks and globally important feeding area for sailfish, marlin and swordfish.

8. Rufiji-Mafia Complex (Rufiji River Delta, Mafia Island and Songo Songo Archipelago)
  • Extensive and varied coral reef habitats with high coral cover and diversity (>45 genera).
  • Rufiji River delta with extensive riverine and deltaic mangroves (53 km2).
  • Very important breeding area for shrimp and fish and nesting and feeding site for shorebirds.
  • Abundance of top predators including crocodiles.
  • Important feeding area for Dugong and turtles.
  • Resident populations of Hippopotamus.

12. Mtwara-Quirimbas Complex (Mnazi Bay, Ruvuma Delta and Quirimbas reefs to Pemba)
  • Located where the South Equatorial Current meets the African coast.
  • Extensive complex of reefs with high coral diversity (>48 genera).
  • Important turtle feeding and nursery site and feeding area for Crab Plovers and migratory birds.
  • Unique Ruvuma dunes system with likelihood of rare or endemic flora.
  • Important nursery area for Humpback whales.

15. Zambezi Delta system
  • Part of the largest mangrove complex in the western Indian Ocean (2,800 km2) with a large pristine proportion.
  • Terrestrial complex includes floodplains, grassland and palm savanna.
  • Important area for globally threatened wetland birds e.g. Wattled Cranes, Pelicans, African Skimmer.
  • Concentrations of Risso's Dolphin, Humpback Dolphins and whales including breeding Humpback Whales.

17. Bazaruto Archipelago
  • Complex of coral communities with 6 endemic gastropod mollusc species.
  • Parabolic sand dunes.
  • Populations of 6 bird species regularly exceeds 1% of the global population.
  • Largest Dugong population in the ecoregion, plus 5 dolphin, 3 whale, 4 turtle and 4 shark species.
  • Unique sand blown island (barrier to cyclones and barrier Lakes).

20. Maputo Bay-Machangulo Complex (including Inhaca Island)
  • Important feeding area for turtle, dugong and migratory birds e.g.Whimbrel and Flamingos.
  • Extensive marshes and flooded grasslands with endemic fish and plant species.
  • Important for Dugong, whales, white and whale sharks.
  • Turtles (Loggerhead and Leatherback) nesting area.
  • Northern limit of migration for Southern Right Whale.
  • Endemic fishes and unique tube-worm reefs.
  • Deep rocky formations dominated by gorgonians.

21. Greater St. Lucia Wetlands
  • Longest estuary in Africa.
  • Southernmost coral communities in the western Indian Ocean, extending for 80km.
  • Narrow coastal shelf with deep canyons, with a resident population of Coelacanth.
  • High endemism of soft corals.
  • Important for Dugong, seasonal aggregation of whale sharks and raggedtooth sharks.
  • Loggerhead and Leatherback turtle nesting area.
  • Nesting seabirds, including the White-backed Pelican and Caspian Tern.

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