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Location South Africa, Mpumalanga
Central coordinates 30o 4.00' East  25o 21.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4i, A4ii
Area 100,000 ha
Altitude 1,700 - 2,274m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa



Site description This large area consists of c.150 private farms in the Belfast-Dullstroom region. The Belfast District border defines the northern, eastern and western limits of the site. The Middelburg–Belfast–Lydenburg road forms the southern boundary. The area lies on the central South African plateau, and it consists primarily of rolling high-altitude grassland (1,700–2,100 m), interspersed with rocky outcrops. North of Dullstroom, the southern portion of the Steenkampsberg, with peaks up to 2,274 m, breaks the rolling plateau grasslands. Within the Steenkampsberg area, two wetland systems are particularly important: (1) Lakensvleispruit (25°35’S 30°05’E) lies 8 km north-east of Belfast. This area is deeply flooded. The critically important northern edge of the vlei, known as Middelpunt (25°32’S 30°07’E), is dominated by reed Phragmites on permanently saturated to flooded ground. In some areas there are large tracts of virtually uniform sedge Carex, particularly at the vlei’s north-eastern end. (2) Verloren Valei, lying c.9 km north of Dullstroom, comprises a large area of scattered wetland patches. The wetlands have mainly short vegetation, predominantly grasses, forbs and short sedges less than 50–60 cm tall. Some marshy depressions hold patches of Typha, various Scirpus and Pycreus and taller sedges. Moist, sandy highveld grassland is found to the south-west of Belfast. The remainder of the area is covered by north-eastern mountain grassland, especially along the Steenkampsberg towards Dullstroom. The area also supports a wide variety of forbs and ferns, including many South African endemics. Rocky slopes, gullies and ravines favour the development of thickets dominated by Leucosidea.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus resident  1998  30-40 breeding pairs  unknown  A1, A3, A4i  Vulnerable 
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus winter  100-350 individuals  A4i  Vulnerable 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni winter  1,000-3,000 individuals  A1, A4ii  Least Concern 
White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi winter  1998  6-12 individuals  A1, A4i  Critically Endangered 
Striped Flufftail Sarothrura affinis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus resident  4 breeding pairs  A1  Vulnerable 
Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus resident  present  A1  Least Concern 
Rudd's Lark Heteromirafra ruddi resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Buff-streaked Chat Oenanthe bifasciata resident  1998  present  A1, A3  Least Concern 
Gurney's Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-breasted Pipit Anthus chloris resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Verloren Valei Provincial Nature Reserve 5,990 protected area contained by site 5,922  
Verloren Valei Nature Reserve Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 5,891 protected area contained by site 5,891  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Grassland - highveld  -
Wetlands (inland) Riverine floodplains  -
Forest   100%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
nature conservation and research 6%
forestry 60%
nature conservation and research 4%
water management 10%

Other biodiversity North-eastern mountain grassland holds 78 endemic and near-endemic plant species on the Black Reef quartzites, several of which species are present within this site, including Zantedeschia pentlandii and Gladiolus cataractarum. The global range of the cycad Encephalartos humilis is restricted to this site and the surrounding districts.

References Allan et al. (1997), Batchelor (1984), Bloem (1988), de Wet (1991), Hockey et al. (1988), Kotze and Taylor (1995), Kotze et al. (1994), Tarboton (1984a,b,c, 1995b, 1997a,b,c), Tarboton and Johnson (1992), Taylor (1994, 1997a,b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Steenkampsberg. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/07/2014

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