Mount Namuli, a 7,936-foot granite monolith, is the largest of a group of isolated peaks– called inselbergs– that tower over the ancient valleys of northern Mozambique. Inselbergs (literally “island mountains”) are unique ecosystems where, plants and animals have evolved as if on dispersed oceanic islands, so that individual mountains have become refuge to their own unique species of life, many of which have yet to be discovered or described by science.  Biologists and conservationists from around the world have identified Mount Namuli as a global hotspot: a place of critical biodiversity and an opportunity to model a new vision for wildlife preservation that integrates the wishes and needs of local people. Each of the few scientific expeditions that have accessed these mountains has resulted in the identification of new species.

Mount Namuli, Mozambique, is designated as a Level 1 Priority Key Biodiversity Area by the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund, as an Important Bird Area, an Important Plant Area, and an Alliance for Zero Extinction site, yet lacks any conservation protections.

Current Research on Mount Namuli

Legado supports new and ongoing research through our Legado: Namuli initiative.  Interested in developing a study to benefit Mount Namuli? Contact Legado’s Project Manager, Filipa Oitaven, to discuss your idea.

2014 Namuli expedition scientific findings include:

  • 14 amphibian and 18 reptile species recorded, which added 11 species to the checklist of known herpetofauna of Namuli.
  • Discovery of one new snake species, yet to be described.
  • Second record of a caecilian (Scolecomorphus kirkii, order Gymnophiona, Amphibia) in Mozambique, also the fifth and southernmost recording of this species in the world.
  • First-ever comprehensive ant collection on Mulanje and Namuli massifs.
  • 36 total ant genera collected, including 5 genera never before collected to Mozambique (Agraulomyrmex, Axinidris, Cyphoidris, Euponera, and Prionopelta), and 12 new records to Malawi (Acropyga, Carebara, Hypoponera, Leptogenys, Mesoponera, Palthotyreus, Paraparatrechina, Pheidole, Plagiolepis, Probolomyrmex, Solenopsis, and Tapinoma).
  • 60 ant species recorded on Namuli; 35 on Mulanje (final identification).
  • Collection of the rare ant genus Promyopias on Mulanje massif — the second record for the genus in Malawi, 101 years after its first collection, and the seventh for Africa. It will be the first specimen available for DNA extraction within this genus, and an unique opportunity for better understanding relatedness of some ant lineages.
  • Our findings support the case that to maximize the protection of a higher diversity of organisms, a sound conservation effort on Namuli should incorporate different altitudinal zones, a mosaic of habitat types, and areas of high biodiversity – particularly high- and mid-elevation forests.

This research and more is compiled in the Legado: Namuli Phase II report. Download it here.

Photography Credit: James Q Martin