|Central coordinates||29o 2.00' East 29o 8.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A3, A4ii|
|Altitude||2,500 - 3,000m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Site description The site is centred on an area of near-vertical cliffs, where the upper reaches of the Senqu (Orange) river have incised deeply into the basalt layers. The surrounding highlands support a traditional pastoral economy with a low-density population. Approximately 35% of the surrounding area (within a 25 km radius) is cultivated, the remainder being open pasture. The vegetation is primarily montane grassland, but thick bush and scrub flank the lower gorge walls. High-altitude shrubs form a heath of Erica, Chrysocoma and Helichrysum. The summits are generally rocky with bare, shallow soil patches and extensive bare rock at higher altitudes.
|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||-||70-90 breeding pairs||-||A1, A4ii||Vulnerable|
|Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres||winter||-||180-240 individuals||-||A4ii||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|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial - terrestrial||6%|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|Notes: Trapping and killing of birds (e.g. Gyps coprotheres, Bubo capensis, maybe Geronticus calvus) for cultural and medicinal uses (body parts).|
Other biodiversity The alpine floral communities found in the Maloti/Drakensberg mountains are unique in southern Africa, holding a remarkable number of endemic species. 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. Extremely rare and localized butterflies occur in the Senqu Valley region, including Torynesis pringlei (endemic), Metisella syrinx and Lepidochrysops loewensteini (VU). The high-altitude streams and seepages hold the Drakensberg-endemic frogs Strongylopus hymenopus and Amieta vertebralis. Near-threatened endemics such as the lizards Pseudocordylus langi (LR/nt) and P. spinosus (LR/nt) and the threatened mouse Mystromys albicaudatus (VU) are also known from this region. The extremely poorly known endemic and threatened small mammal Chlorotalpa sclateri (VU) may occur here.
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: Upper Senqu River. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/08/2014
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