|Location||Lesotho, Qacha's Nek|
|Central coordinates||29o 8.00' East 29o 55.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A3|
|Altitude||2,200 - 2,500m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Site description Sehlabathebe, Lesotho’s only national park, is situated on the eastern border of the country, on the edge of the Great Escarpment. It lies adjacent to South Africa’s uKhahlamba–Drakensberg Park (IBA ZA064) to the west of Himeville, Underberg and Kokstad. This mountain block comprises high-altitude sandstone capped by basalt on the north side where there are higher mountains, and incised deeply by the tributaries of the Tsoelikana river, thus creating near-vertical cliffs. The surrounding highlands support a traditional pastoral economy with a low-density population. Approximately 10% of the surrounding area (within a 25-km radius) is cultivated, 10% is held in Sehlabathebe National Park, and the remainder is open pasture. The vegetation is primarily high-altitude 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 rock sheets near the escarpment. There are patches of wet meadow and marshland at all altitudes. Aquatic vegetation is well represented in the Tsoelikana river and its oxbow lakes and rock pools.
|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|
|Yellow-breasted Pipit Anthus chloris||resident||1998||present||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|Mountain Pipit Anthus hoeschi||resident||1998||present||-||A1, A2, A3||Least Concern|
|Drakensberg Siskin Serinus symonsi||resident||1998||present||-||A1, A2, A3||Least Concern|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Sehlabathebe||National Park||6,952||is identical to site||6,805|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||-|
Other biodiversity The alpine floral communities found in the Maloti/Drakensberg mountains are unique in southern Africa, holding a remarkable number of endemic plant 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. The high-altitude streams and seepages hold the Drakensberg-endemic frogs Strongylopus hymenopus and Amieta vertebralis.
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: Sehlabathebe National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/08/2014
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