The natural vegetation of the Shire Highlands of Malawi has become fragmented because of human activities. As a consequence, some species of mammals have become locally extinct and the population numbers and geographical ranges of other species have declined. This study investigated the species richness of mammals on a commercial tobacco farm, and the importance of remnants of natural vegetation on farms for the conservation of mammals. The farm covered 180 ha and supported 44 species of mammals (equivalent to 66% of the species known to occur in the Shire Highlands at a similar altitude, and 24% of the total mammalian fauna of Malawi). Most of the species were bats (22 species) and rodents (13 species). The largest remnants of natural 'miombo' woodland supported more species and more individuals than smaller remnants. The high species richness was due, in part, to the variety of different habitats on the farm ('miombo' woodland, riverine forest, grassland, swamp, streams and dams), as well as to good conservation practices. The farm is especially important for the conservation of 13 species which are rare and/or have limited geographical ranges in Malawi. It is suggested that well-managed farms which contain remnants of natural vegetation can play a significant role in the conservation of mammals, and other vertebrates, in Central Africa.
Biodiversity and Conservation – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 15, 2004
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