email a friend
printable version
Location Australia, South Australia
Central coordinates 137o 44.79' East  30o 59.66' South
IBA criteria A4i
Area 579,674 ha
Altitude 30 - 64m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary When inundated, the IBA has supported significant breeding numbers of Banded Stilt.

Site description Lake Torrens is a very large, and usually dry, saline playa lake in north-eastern South Australia. Its catchment is bounded by the western slopes of the Flinders Ranges to the east and the low, rounded hills east of Andamooka and Roxby Downs to the west. The lake has been filled only once in the past 150 years, during a major flooding event in 1989, but it has held smaller volumes of water on many occasions. The huge numbers of Banded Stilts nesting on two small island groups within the lake during this flood justifies the lake's status as an IBA. One island group consists of four small islands situated in the north of the lake off Andamooka Island. The other group consists of three small islands situated in the south of the lake. The northern group is composed of red clay topped with gibber rock and vegetated with a moderate cover of mixed salt-bush shrubs. The southern group is composed of sand deposits on a stone base with sparse, low samphire vegetation.

Key Biodiversity The IBA probably sporadically supports more than 1% of the global population of the congregatory Red-capped Plover, which was very common on all islands in the lake in 1989, with approximately 100 birds on one island in the southern group and one pair per 100m on shoreline on Andamooka Island. Approximately 6000 individuals and 1200 nests of the congregatory Silver Gull were observed in the IBA in 1989 (Bellchambers and Carpenter 1990). Cinnamon Quail-thrush are common on Andamooka Island (Bellchambers and Carpenter 1990).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Banded Stilt Cladorhynchus leucocephalus breeding  1989  100,000 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2008 medium not assessed not assessed
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Energy production and mining mining and quarrying likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Energy production and mining renewable energy happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases problematic native species/diseases - named species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Lake Torrens National Park 567,668 protected area contained by site 570,745  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Desert Semi-desert (includes gibber plains)  minor
Shrubland Chenopod shrubs, samphire shrubs and forblands  minor
Wetlands (inland) Ephemeral; Saline lakes  major

Land ownership The lake is managed by South Australian Department for Environment and Heritage; Andamooka Island is a pastoral property.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research major
rangeland/pastureland major

Protection status Lake Torrens National Park is contained within the IBA.

Access/Land-Owner requests Road access is through Andamooka and Mulgaria Stations at the discretion of the station managers. Vehicles must not be driven on the surface of the lake.

Acknowledgements Keith Bellchambers provided comments.

References Bellchambers, K. and Carpenter, G. (1990) Birds recorded at Lake Torrens during its 1989 flooding. South Australian Ornithologist 31: 1-7.

Robinson, T. and Minton, C. (1989) The enigmatic Banded Stilt. Birds International 1: 72-85.

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Lake Torrens. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife