|Central coordinates||14o 33.00' East 22o 39.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i, A4iii|
|Altitude||0 - 2m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information 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.
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.
|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|
|Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus||breeding||-||64 breeding pairs||-||Least Concern|
|Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor||winter||-||common [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|Cape Cormorant Phalacrocorax capensis||winter||-||45,400-700,000 individuals||-||A1, A4i||Near Threatened|
|Cape Cormorant Phalacrocorax capensis||breeding||-||-||-||Near Threatened|
|African Oystercatcher Haematopus moquini||winter||-||common [units unknown]||-||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 Sterna balaenarum||breeding||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|A4iii Species group - seabirds||winter||-||-||unknown||A4iii|
|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)|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||-|
|Notes: Guano harvesting.|
Other biodiversity Brown hyena Hyaena brunnea (LR/nt) occurs at the nearby Swakopmund dump and scavenges along the beaches in this area.
Management considerations The proprietors of the saltworks have registered the aquatic portion of this wetland, which encompasses 400 ha, as a private nature reserve. The Richwater Oyster Company has been cultivating oysters on the pan since 1985. Oyster production and guano scraping appear to be compatible with maintaining good populations of wetland birds, judging by the large numbers present, and the breeding of terns, cormorants and plovers in and around the saltworks. The value of these commercial saltpans as habitat for waders and others birds is obvious from biannual wetland counts (up to 93,000 birds of c.35 species at any one time). Management options that enhance the value of these systems, for breeding flamingos for example, should be sought; although the owners are not keen on attracting large numbers of visitors who may disturb the breeding cormorants. Substantial quantities of guano fall into the pans. The effect of this guano-enrichment on productivity of microorganisms in the pan has not been directly assessed, but oysters are grown commercially here and nutrient pollution has not been reported. The site can be considered secure as long as guano harvesting remains commercially viable.
References Berry (1976a,b), Cooper et al. (1982), Crawford and Dyer (1995), Noli-Peard and Williams (1991), Simmons ( 1992), Tarr (1996).
Contribute Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.
Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mile 4 saltworks. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/05/2013
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife