Flora and Fauna
Most of the Reserve area is covered by extensive deciduous woodland which is not particularly diverse in terms of species. These woodlands are relatively undisturbed compared to similar woodlands elsewhere in Mozambique.
Essentially there are five main groups of vegetation types, the distribution and extent of which is determined principally by available soil moisture:
1. Forest vegetation where additional moisture is received, particularly during the dry season.
2. Riverine vegetation on alluvium with additional moisture from perennial rivers.
3. Deciduous Woodland, which covers most of the Reserve and only receives moisture from incident rainfall.
4. Dambo vegetation where trees are precluded owing to poorly drained conditions during the growing season.
5. Granite mountains or Inselbergs with soils with very poor moisture storage capacity and almost desert-like conditions (e.g. extremes of temperature).
Northern Mozambique, notably Niassa and Cabo Delgado, still remains relatively unexplored in respect of its faunal components. The area represents an inter-gradation between a number of mammal subspecies about which there is still very little known. Thus, the continuous aerial surveys, and the biodiversity research that has been carried out in the Reserve constitutes very important data for biodiversity conservation in Mozambiqu.
The Niassa National Reserve contains the largest concentration of large mammals in Mozambique, including an estimated population of 450 African Wild Dogs, 12 000 elephants, 9 700 sables and 800 Lions. The area contains a number of endemic sub-species of large wildlife, the most notable of these being Niassa Wildebeest, Johnston’s impala and Bohm’s Zebra, as well as a large diversity of small carnivores and mongoose.
Nine different “bird” habitats have so far been identified within the Reserve, with over 400 species of birds recorded, some of which including “globally threatened” species, such as the Taita Falcon, Southern Banded Snake Eagle, African Skimmer and Stierling’s Woodpecker.
Important discoveries on amphibians include the following four first records for Mozambique: Kirk’s caecilian, Spotted reed frog, Short-legged spiny reed frog, and the Upemba ridged frog.
The Niassa National Reserve is home to a new species of reptile – the Mecula Girdled Lizard, and in addition, to new records such as Loveridge’s Legless Skink, Angulate Dwarf Day Gecko, Chobe Dwarf Day Gecko and the Ornate Scrub Lizard