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Location South Africa, Northern Province
Central coordinates 29o 55.00' East  22o 57.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4ii
Area 260,000 ha
Altitude 1,000 - 1,747m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa



Summary The Soutpansberg, an east-west trending mountain range, stretches some 130 km from 10 km west of Thohoyandou in the east to Vivo in the west. Patches of high-altitude Afromontane forest are found in valleys and moist basins. The Soutpansberg supports a Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres colony, Cape Parrot Poicephalus robustus and Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus.

Site description The Soutpansberg, an east–west trending mountain range, stretches some 130 km from 10 km west of Thohoyandou in the east to Vivo in the west. Louis Trichardt lies in the centre of the range, below its southern slopes. The range rises c.700 m from the surrounding plains to form spectacular peaks at Maditshwene (1,606 m) and Letjume (1,747 m) in the west and the lower-altitude Entabeni Peak (1,449 m) in the east. To the north, the plains drop into the lowveld of the Limpopo valley. The range holds the catchments of several important Northern Province rivers, including the Sand, Mutamba, Nzhelele, Nwanedzi, Mutale and Luvuvhu rivers. All of these flow north into the Province’s most important river, the Limpopo.The vegetation is primarily north-eastern mountain sourveld. Scrubby thornveld occurs on the mountain slopes. On the lower and middle slopes, sourish mixed bushveld dominates. The mountain peaks are covered with scattered clumps of Protea bushes. Patches of Afromontane forest, up to 30–40 m tall, are found in valleys and moist basins, especially where south-facing.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The Soutpansberg supports a colony of Gyps coprotheres, located on three separate adjacent cliffs. The thick forest vegetation in the valleys and basins supports a small population of Poicephalus robustus robustus, as well as Stephanoaetus coronatus, Buteo oreophilus, Tauraco corythaix, Cossypha dichroa, Apaloderma narina, Coracina caesia, Telophorus olivaceus, T. multicolor, Mandingoa nitidula and Serinus scotops. The bushveld on the slopes holds Telophorus quadricolor, Cossypha humeralis and Eremomela usticollis. The Protea woodland is suitable for Promerops gurneyi. The rivers hold small numbers of Podica senegalensis, Gorsachius leuconotus and Scotopelia peli.

Non-bird biodiversity: Flora: the stapeliads Huernia nouhuysii, Stapelia clavicorona and Orbeanthus conjunctus are rare and endemic to these mountains. Other spectacular endemics restricted to the Soutpansberg include Aloe angelica, A. soutpansbergensis, Kalanchoe crundallii and Euphorbia soutpansbergensis. The cycad Encephalartos transvenosus, endemic to the Soutpansberg and northern Drakensberg escarpment, is known from near the site’s border. Amphibians: Australolacerta rupicola, and the subspecies taeniatus of the range-restricted Breviceps sylvestris, which may be a valid species, are endemic to the Soutpansberg. Two other species endemic to this range, Bradypodion sp. and Afroedura sp., are as yet undescribed. Reptiles: Cordylus warreni and Lygodactylus ocellatus (L. o. soutpansbergensis restricted to the Soutpansberg) are endemic to the Soutpansberg and Mpumalanga/Swaziland escarpment zone and occur in rocky montane grassland areas. Platysaurus guttatus, P. relictus (LR/nt) and Lygodactylus nigropuncatus have global ranges restricted to the Soutpansberg and nearby Waterberg (IBA ZA006), although the gecko also occurs patchily elsewhere in the central Northern Province.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Buteo oreophilus resident  1998  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres resident  116-171 breeding pairs  A1, A4ii  Vulnerable 
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres winter  250-400 individuals  A4ii  Vulnerable 
Knysna Turaco Tauraco corythaix resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Grey Cuckooshrike Coracina caesia resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
African Scrub-warbler Bradypterus barratti resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-throated Woodland-warbler Phylloscopus ruficapilla resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Orange Ground-thrush Zoothera gurneyi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-starred Robin Pogonocichla stellata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chorister Robin-chat Cossypha dichroa resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Gurney's Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Swee Waxbill Estrilda melanotis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Forest Canary Serinus scotops resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2014 very high very unfavourable negligible
Habitat
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Agriculture and aquaculture wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - agro-industry plantations happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - small-holder plantations happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - intentional use: subsistence/sml scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use gathering terrestrial plants - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - motivation unknown/unrecorded happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - intentional use: large scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - intentional use: subsistence/small scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Climate change and severe weather storms and floods happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases problematic native species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - sewage happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Forest   0 0 poor (40-69%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable
Savanna Bushland & thicket - evergreen  0 0 moderate (70-90%) good (> 90%) near favourable
Wetlands (inland) Rivers & streams  0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management planning has taken place  Very little or no conservation action taking place  negligible 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Entabeni Nature Reserve 12,054 protected area contained by site 12,054  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Montane forest - mixed  -
Savanna Bushland & thicket - evergreen  -
Wetlands (inland) Rivers & streams  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry 14%
military -
nature conservation and research 100%
tourism/recreation -

References Benson et al. (1990), Carr (1990), Clinning and Fourie (1990), Coetzee et al. (1981), Jacobsen (1990), Tarboton (1990), Tarboton and Allan (1984).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Soutpansberg. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/08/2015

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