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Location Mauritius, Black River,Plaine Wilhems
Central coordinates 57o 26.00' East  20o 22.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2
Area 3,780 ha
Altitude 20 - 670m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description The site contains the major block of 1,260 ha of native forest in south-west Mauritius that lies to the north of the Black River Gorge system, together with adjacent exotic vegetation. The site includes the plateau above the gorge (Pétrin to Tamarin Falls); the gorge itself east of the Rivière Noire and Grandes Gorges river (including the ridges of Macchabé and Brise Fer); the west-facing Magenta escarpment; and Tamarin Gorge to Rempart mountain. The plateau areas are 550–660 m above sea-level, and the escarpments and gorge slope down almost to sea-level; the highest point, Rempart, reaches 777 m. Rainfall decreases from east to west, from 3,500 mm annually at Pétrin to below 1,500 mm on the coastal plain. Diverse types of native upland and lowland forest and thicket are present, together with a large expanse of exotic vegetation, especially around the entrance to the Black River Gorge. Most of the native vegetation is within the Black River Gorges National Park. Land outside the park is mainly privately-owned Mountain Reserve or leased State Land, some of which is used for deer-hunting.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. All eight threatened or near-threatened native landbird species of Mauritius are present. The site is particularly important for Columba mayeri (reintroduction programme at Brise Fer since 1987, population increasing to 98 birds in 1998, 34% of non-captive population), Psittacula eques (Macchabé–Brise Fer supports majority of wild population of 59–73 birds supplemented by reintroductions from captivity) and Coracina typica (c.90 pairs, 35% of world population, 1993). Other threatened species have less important, more localized populations here: Falco punctatus (present in all gorge, mountain and escarpment areas, minimum 31 pairs, 1998), Collocalia francica (uncommon breeder), Hypsipetes olivaceus (c.30 pairs, 10% of world population, 1993), Zosterops chloronothos (6–12 pairs, humid scrub only, 1993), Foudia rubra (5 pairs, 1993). All 10 restricted-range species occur at the site.

Non-bird biodiversity: Endemic plant communities, all rich in rare and endemic species: mixed montane forest (widespread—Brise Fer has one of the finest surviving areas); montane scrubland, bushland and thicket (Mare Longue Plateau; includes very rare heath and Pandanus marsh communities at Pétrin); dry evergreen lowland forest (Magenta escarpment to Trois Mamelles); evergreen bushland and thicket (Trois Mamelles). Reptiles: Phelsuma guimbeaui, Phelsuma rosagularis, Phelsuma cepediana (endemic), Gongylomorphus fontenayi (stronghold for this endemic). Mammals: Pteropus niger (VU), Mormopterus acetabulosus (VU).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Mauritius Kestrel Falco punctatus resident  1998  present  A1, A2  Endangered 
Pink Pigeon Nesoenas mayeri resident  1998  present  A1, A2  Endangered 
Echo Parakeet Psittacula eques resident  1998  present  A1, A2  Endangered 
Mascarene Swiftlet Aerodramus francicus resident  1998  present  A1, A2  Near Threatened 
Mauritius Cuckooshrike Coracina typica resident  1998  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Mascarene Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone bourbonnensis resident  1998  present  A2  Least Concern 
Mauritius Black Bulbul Hypsipetes olivaceus resident  1998  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Mascarene Grey White-eye Zosterops borbonicus resident  1998  present  A2  Least Concern 
Mauritius Olive White-eye Zosterops chloronothus resident  1998  present  A1, A2  Critically Endangered 
Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra resident  1998  present  A1, A2  Endangered 

IBA Monitoring

2001 high not assessed medium

Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - unspecified species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high

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  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Black River Gorges National Park 6,574 protected area overlaps with site 0  
Cabinet Nature Reserve 18 protected area contained by site 18  
Macchabee-Bel Ombre Nature Reserve UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 3,594 protected area contained by site 3,594  

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry -
hunting -
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -
water management -

Further web sources of information 

Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This site has been identified as an AZE due to it containing a Critically Endangered or Endangered species with a limited range.

References Cheke (1987a,b), Jones (1987), Jones and Duffy (1993), Jones et al. (1992, 1995), Safford (1997a,b,c).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Macchabé - Brise Fer forest. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

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