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Location Namibia, Otjozondjupa
Central coordinates 17o 13.00' East  20o 25.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 40,500 ha
Altitude 1,600 - 1,800m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description Waterberg Plateau Park is located some 30 km east of Otjiwarongo. The primary feature within the park is the Waterberg Plateau, which rises to 1,800 m on the western and southern sides. The major part of this differentially weathered sandstone plateau is at 1,600 m, some 150–200 m above the surrounding plain. The plateau consists mostly of near-vertical cliffs on the east and west, up to 140 m high. In the north the plateau gradually widens and dips to join the plain. Below the cliffs the ground slopes steeply but evenly away from the base of the mountain; the slopes are covered by sandstone scree weathered from the summit. The plateau comprises an undulating landscape with deep sand and scattered granite koppies. It is an erosional relict of a hard Etjo sandstone casing that covered large parts of Namibia millions of years ago. Most of the ancient plateau was carved up over aeons, but the resistant Etjo sandstone prevented the erosion of the Waterberg. To the south of the main plateau lies the Klein Waterberg, an inselberg rising to 1,930 m, which is now part of a large conservancy surrounding the park.

On the plateau summit thick broadleaved woodland occurs right to the edge of the escarpment. The broadleaved tree and shrub savanna is dominated by Terminalia, Burkea, Combretum and Peltophorum. There are isolated grass savanna valleys. Below this, and surrounding the plateau for thousands of square kilometres, lies a sea of dense scrub, dominated by Acacia and Dichrostachys.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 3 for key species. This park supports over 200 bird species, including Namibia’s only surviving colony of Gyps coprotheres, which used to breed on the cliffs of Okarukuwisa mountain (1,884 m) in the Waterberg range. Due to poisoning and bush encroachment these birds no longer breed. It is the only area in Namibia where Hieraaetus pennatus minisculus are known to breed. Other cliff-nesting raptors breeding on the Waterberg include Falco peregrinus and Aquila verreauxii. Vultures include Torgos tracheliotus, Trigonoceps occipitalis and Gyps africanus. Other raptors include Sagittarius serpentarius, Terathopius ecaudatus, Polemaetus bellicosus and Aquila rapax. The park lies close to the boundary of near-endemic Namibian species such as Parus carpi and their northern cousins (e.g. P. niger).

Non-bird biodiversity: Among mammals, threatened species include Acinonyx jubatus (VU), Ceratotherium simum (LR/cd) and Diceros bicornis (CR), while Madoqua kirkii is near-endemic to Namibia and common here.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Hartlaub's Francolin Pternistis hartlaubi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres winter  1995  5 individuals  A1  Endangered 
Burchell's Sandgrouse Pterocles burchelli resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Rüppell's Parrot Poicephalus rueppellii resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Monteiro's Hornbill Tockus monteiri resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Barred Wren-warbler Camaroptera fasciolata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Rockrunner Achaetops pycnopygius resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bare-cheeked Babbler Turdoides gymnogenys resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Burchell's Glossy-starling Lamprotornis australis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kalahari Scrub-robin Erythropygia paena resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Waterberg Plateau Park Game Park 39,795 protected area contained by site 39,795  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland   16%
Grassland   78%
Forest   4%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -

References Brown (1985a,b), Brown and Cooper (1987), Jankowitz and Venter (1987), Olivier and Olivier (1993).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Waterberg Plateau Park. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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