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Location Namibia, Erongo
Central coordinates 14o 33.00' East  22o 39.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 3,400 ha
Altitude 0 - 2m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description This coastal area comprises a private nature reserve of 400 ha and a saltworks. It lies adjacent to the sea on the central Namib desert coast and has been extensively altered to create numerous evaporation ponds. Immediately inland lie the gravel-plains of the Namib desert. The saltworks are situated about 7 km (4 miles) north of Swakopmund, off Route 76 to Terrace Bay. Production of the concentrated brine at the saltpan, known as Panther Beacon, began in 1933, but by 1952 the salt source was exhausted. Seawater has since been pumped into open evaporation and concentration ponds from which crystallized salt is removed with mechanical scrapers. The pans are shallow and of varying salinity. A large wooden commercial guano platform covering 31,000 m² has been built in one of the northern pans. Apart from a few halophytes, the saltworks are devoid of vegetation.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Mile 4 occasionally supports massive numbers of waterbirds. The guano platform has supported up to 700,000 Phalacrocorax capensis in the past, and an average of 45,000 birds has been supported in recent years. Cormorants aside, the area may support more than 50,000 other waterbirds, including large numbers of Phoenicopterus ruber and P. minor, Haematopus moquini, and up to 100,000 Sterna hirundo. Breeding species include Sterna balaenarum and Charadrius pallidus.

Non-bird biodiversity: Brown hyena Hyaena brunnea (LR/nt) occurs at the nearby Swakopmund dump and scavenges along the beaches in this area.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  1,306-2,688 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor winter  common  A1  Near Threatened 
Cape Cormorant Phalacrocorax capensis winter  45,400-700,000 individuals  A1, A4i  Endangered 
African Oystercatcher Haematopus moquini winter  common  A1  Near Threatened 
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus winter  372-706 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus breeding  120 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Damara Tern Sternula balaenarum breeding  present  A1  Near Threatened 
A4iii Species group - seabirds winter  100,000-499,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Pantherbake Private Reserve 1,000 protected area contained by site 1,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Rocky areas   48%
Grassland   12%
Desert   39%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
nature conservation and research -
urban/industrial/transport -
other -
Notes: Guano harvesting.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

References Berry (1976a,b), Cooper et al. (1982), Crawford and Dyer (1995), Noli-Peard and Williams (1991), Simmons ( 1992), Tarr (1996).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Mile 4 saltworks. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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