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Location Lesotho, Butha-Buthe
Central coordinates 28o 40.00' East  28o 40.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 10,000 ha
Altitude 2,500 - 3,300m
Year of IBA assessment 2001





Site description This site is centred on the 60–90-m-high cliffs of the Mechachaneng Ridge, which runs for c.1 km. The tributaries of the Senqu (Orange) river system have incised deeply into the basalt, creating near-vertical cliffs. The surrounding highlands support a traditional pastoral economy with a low-density population. Approximately 15% of the surrounding area (within a 25-km radius) is cultivated, the remainder being open pasture. The vegetation is primarily montane grassland. High-altitude shrubs form a heath of Erica, Chrysocoma and Helichrysum. The summits are generally rocky, with bare, shallow soil patches and rock sheets near the escarpment.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. This site is centred on an important colony of Gyps coprotheres (at c.3,000 m), which forms a stable nucleus of the national breeding population, regularly holding at least 25 pairs and over 75 individuals. The rare Gypaetus barbatus meridionalis also forages widely across this area. Other cliff-nesting species include Buteo rufofuscus, Falco biarmicus and Ciconia nigra. The high-altitude, rocky, boulder-strewn slopes and outcrops (above 2,000 m) support Chaetops aurantius, and the surrounding grassy slopes and plateau hold Anthus hoeschi, which breeds in large numbers during the austral summer (especially above 3,000 m). Serinus symonsi occurs commonly above 1,500 m, and has become commensal with humans, occupying and foraging in villages and among fallow and harvested crop fields.Anthus crenatus, Monticola explorator and Geocolaptes olivaceus occur commonly in the vicinity of rocky outcrops. Cercomela sinuata hypernephela, Sylvia layardi barnesi and Circus maurus are uncommon. The small, isolated, Lesotho subspecies Parus afer arens also occurs. Small numbers of Geronticus calvus occasionally forage in this area, and it is thought that there are breeding colonies in the vicinity.

Non-bird biodiversity: The alpine floral communities found in the Maloti/Drakensberg mountains are unique in southern Africa, holding a remarkable number of endemic plants. A recent botanical survey of three valleys in the Maloti yielded many species that could not be identified and some may be new to science. The high-altitude streams and seepages hold the Drakensberg-endemic frog Strongylopus hymenopus.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus resident  present  A1  Least Concern 
Drakensberg Rockjumper Chaetops aurantius resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Least Concern 
Mountain Pipit Anthus hoeschi resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Least Concern 
Drakensberg Siskin Serinus symonsi resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Least Concern 

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   41%
Shrubland   18%
Grassland   40%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
not utilised -

References Allan et al. (1996), Bonde (1993), Brown (1992a,b), Donnay (1990), Jilbert (1979, 1982), Manry (1984, 1985a,b), Meakins et al. (1988), Mendelsohn (1984), Osborne and Tigar (1989, 1990, 1992a,b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Liqobong. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/12/2014

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