When Angola was a Portuguese colony, up to 1974, most of the forests of the scarp were converted for the production of coffee. It was believed that 95% of the forest was under shaded-coffee production by 1970 (Hawkins 1993). This method of coffee production involves the clearing of the under-storey vegetation, leaving the tall canopy mostly intact, resulting in what is known as “coffee forests”.
|Coffee plantation in Kumbira|
It is probable that coffee production in Kumbira was large. Abandoned coffee plantations can still be found in the area, as well as secondary growth with wild coffee plants. One of the areas of Kumbira known as “Monte Belo” shows evidence of being a huge coffee farm in the past. Abandoned infrastructures related with coffee production can be found in “Monte Belo” such as a hospital, workers villages, factory and large concrete patios to dry the coffee.
|Abandoned Hospital in "Monte Belo"|
However during the 30 years of armed conflicts, coffee plantations were abandoned. This allowed the recovery of the under-storey vegetation which may have been beneficial for the bird community, especially the endemics (Ryan et al. 2004).
After the end of the war, Kumbira has been densely populated. The forest is rapidly being transformed because of slash-and-burn for subsistence agriculture. Not only under-storey vegetation but also canopy forest is being destroyed to plant sun-loving crops such as cassava, maize, banana and sweet potatoes (Mills 2010; Sekercioglu & Riley 2005). Charcoal production and logging has also been observed in the area.This new land use has resulted in a very fragmented landscape in Kumbira. Farming plots are small and scattered all over the area.
|Slash-and-burn field planted with maize|
|Google Earth Image from September 2010 showing a human settlement, farm plots, slash-and-burn areas and secondary forest.|
Hunting may also be a conservation threat for the birds in Kumbira. It is known that game birds, such as francolins and doves, are appreciated as a source of protein (Hawkins 1993). In conversations with local population they have mentioned that they do practice hunting. Traps, hunting dogs and people carrying around hunted birds have been observed in the area.
Hunter with Grey-striped Francolin
* Hawkins, F. (1993). An integrated biodiversity conservation project under development: the ICBP Angola scarp project. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 8th Pan-African Ornithological Congress, Tervuren.
* Mills, M. (2010). Angola’s central scarp forests: patterns of bird diversity and conservation threats. Biodiversity and Conservation, 19, 1883-1903.
* Ryan, P. G., Sinclair, I., Cohen, C., Mills, M., Spottiswoode, C., & Cassidy, R. (2004). The conservation status and vocalizations of threatened birds from the scarp forest of the Western Angola Endemic Area. Bird Conservation International, 14, 247-260.
* Sekercioglu, Ç., & Riley, A. (2005). A brief survey of the birds in Kumbira Forest, Gabela, Angola. Ostrich, 76(3&4), 111-117.