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Location Botswana, Central
Central coordinates 27o 30.00' East  22o 40.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4ii
Area 75,000 ha
Altitude 1,000 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife Botswana (Partner Designate)

Site description The Tswapong Hills lie in the hardveld of eastern Botswana, east of the town of Palapye. They arise from a sandy plain dominated by mopane woodland. The hills, which extend for 67 km in an east–west direction, are mainly sandstone and on the steeper slopes the vegetation is dominated by Croton. There are gorges with precipitous cliffs and seasonal streams, and exposed rock faces around the edge of the hills and along some watercourses.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Gyps coprotheres currently breeds at three sites within the Tswapong Hills. The species has probably bred there for well over a century but the existence of some former and current breeding sites, Machibaba and Kukubye at Lerala, and Manong Yeng, was not documented until 1976. The Machibaba site was abandoned in 1984. In the same year, breeding sites at Bonwalenong and Sebale were discovered; Seolwane was colonized in 1986, but the colony here dwindled and finally disappeared in 1990 whilst that at Kukubye suffered a similar fate due to direct persecution. In the 1980s, the number of breeding pairs increased from 240 in 1984 to 325 in 1992, although the total number of birds appeared to be declining. Bonwalanong, having undergone a large increase since 1989, was the most important breeding site in 1992, with over 200 pairs, and Manong Yeng then supported around 90 pairs. Nine nests were also found at Kukubye in 1992. As of 2001, the decline in numbers of Gyps coprotheres appears to have halted.

Non-bird biodiversity: Two species or subspecies of butterflies are endemic to the Tswapong Hills.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Southern Pochard Netta erythrophthalma winter  800-1,500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres resident  300 breeding pairs  A1, A4ii  Endangered 
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres winter  600 individuals  A4ii  Endangered 

IBA Monitoring

2012 low favourable medium
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Gyps coprotheres Cape Vulture 3450 3400 females only 99 favourable
Gyps coprotheres Cape Vulture 546 500 mature individuals 92 favourable
Gyps coprotheres Cape Vulture 435 400 nests 92 favourable

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  The conservation measures needed for the site are being comprehensively and effectively implemented  medium 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   34%
Shrubland   27%
Forest   37%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
tourism/recreation -
other -
Notes: Harvesting natural products.

References Borello and Borello (1993), Leggett (1996).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Tswapong Hills. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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