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Mulanje Mountain Biosphere Reserve

Date of Submission: 17/05/2000
Criteria: (x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Malawi Government
Coordinates: Long. 35°30'-35°47' E ; Lat. 15°50'-16°3' S
Ref.: 1419

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Mulanje mountain is a forest reserve that was gazetted as a forest Reserve in 1927. The mountain is composed of seynite, quarts-seyinite and granite rock materials. This forms a massif of approximately 500 sq. km. The mountain is surrounded by densely populated plains situated at 600m-700m above sea level. From the plains, it rises abruptly to high plateau basins at 1800-1900m surmounted by rock peaks to its maximum attitude of 300m above sea level. In fact the mountain is the highest both in Malawi and South Central Africa. The structure and altitude of the mountain have led to the development of a unique climate for the area, which is charaterised by high rainfalls from November to April. This climate favours the development of unique ecology of rare and endemic life forms which contribute to the massif's high biodiversity. The high rainfall, deep ravine and dense vegetation have favoured the birth of many rivers which supply reliable clean water to thousands of households in the surrounding plains. Due to the life-sustaining capabilities endowed upon this physical landmark, the people around the mountain have always looked upon it as a God-given and sacred reserve created to benefit mankind in a large number of ways. Thus traditional rites are performed there in time of need e.g. when praying for rain. It is also widely believed that if one gets hungry while in the mountain forests, spirits will always provide food, under certain unknown conditionalities. It is for these reasons, among others, that the Mulanje massif is singled out as an interesting feature scientifically, educationally, socially and for research purposes.