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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



Summary The site consists of the Waterberg range and its cliffs. The area is characterised by open broadleaved woodland that is common on the plains below the Waterberg Mountains. Kransberg holds a large Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres colony of nearly 900 breeding pairs.

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.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Kransberg holds the largest Gyps coprotheres colony in the world; it comprised c.900 breeding pairs in 1984, but by 1998 numbers had fallen to c.700 pairs. Most of the vulture cliffs are situated outside Marakele National Park, which should be enlarged to incorporate the key breeding cliffs. The Kransberg also holds breeding Ciconia nigra. The grasslands support small populations of Neotis denhami and Eupodotis senegalensis. Promerops gurneyi occurs at higher altitudes where Protea roupelliae dominates the proteoid shrubland. The woodland at the base of the mountains holds Bucorvus cafer and Ardeotis kori, which breed near Ellisras, and are regular within the IBA. Other woodland birds include Eupodotis ruficrista, Mirafra passerina, Bradornis mariquensis, Lamprotornis australis, Cercotrichas paena, Calamonastes fasciolatus, Laniarius atrococcineus, Vidua regia and Eurocephalus anguitimens.

Non-bird 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.

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 

IBA Monitoring

2013 high not assessed low
unset
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - shifting agriculture happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - unintentional effects (species is not the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - unspecified species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of surface water (agricultural use) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Transportation and service corridors flight paths happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
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

Artificial - terrestrial Arable land  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Savanna Wooded grassland  0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable

Gyps coprotheres Cape Vulture 900 804 breeding pairs 90 near favourable

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  low 

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  

Habitats

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 -

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Waterberg System. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/07/2015

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