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Location South Africa, Northern Province
Central coordinates 28o 5.00' East  24o 17.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4ii
Area 375,000 ha
Altitude 900 - 1,670m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa

Site description The site consists of the Waterberg range and its cliffs. The range is about 150 km long and it runs from 15 km north-east of Thabazimbi, eastwards, to Hanglip Point c.30 km west of Potgietersrus. The Kransberg, a massif within the western sector of the Waterberg range, has been incorporated into Marakele National Park. The region is surrounded by granite, basalt and sandstone ridges, which are eroded into natural blocks by the Mogol and Lephalala rivers.The area is characterized by open broadleaved woodland that is common on the plains below the Waterberg mountains, dominated by trees of Faurea, Terminalia, Acacia, Burkea and Peltophorum in the deep sandy areas, with Kirkia and Englerophytum characteristic on the rocky slopes. Other trees scattered throughout various communities include species of Heteropyxis, Dombeya, Lannea and Pterocarpus. Natural climax grassland is scarce and it occurs only in the highest regions where it is restricted to the highest plateaus or cool south-facing slopes. On deep sands, where termitaria occur, typical bushveld clumps become common. Proteoid shrubland occurs on cool slopes. Forest and thicket communities develop in the kloofs and ravines, holding trees of Podocarpus, Mimusops, Combretum, Olea, Calodendrum, Ficus, Diospyros, Maytenus and other forest elements.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres resident  700-900 breeding pairs  A1, A4ii  Vulnerable 
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres winter  1,800-2,200 individuals  A4ii  Vulnerable 
Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Masebe Nature Reserve 7,749 protected area contained by site 4,542  
Waterberg UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 414,571 protected area contains site 375,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Woodland - mixed  -
Shrubland Scrub - forest  -
Savanna Wooded grassland  -
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 30%
unknown -

Other biodiversity The threatened butterfly, Eriksonia acraeina, occurs here. The global ranges of the cycad Encephalartos eugene-maraisii, and the reptiles Lygodactylus waterbergensis, Cordylus breyeri and Platysaurus minor, are virtually restricted to these mountains. Both Platysaurus guttatus and P. relictus (LR/nt) have global ranges restricted to the Waterberg and nearby Soutpansberg (IBA ZA002). The mammal Loxodonta africana (EN) has been reintroduced in various high-profile conservation areas.

References Benson and Dobbs (1984), Benson et al. (1990), Coetzee et al. (1981).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Waterberg System. Downloaded from on 12/07/2014

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