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Location South Africa, Mpumalanga
Central coordinates 31o 2.00' East  25o 55.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 56,000 ha
Altitude 1,200 - 1,851m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa



Site description Located in eastern Mpumalanga, just south of Barberton, this site abuts Swaziland’s Malolotja Nature Reserve (IBA SW001). It includes some of the most rugged mountain terrain in southern Africa, as the reserve is located along South Africa’s eastern Drakensberg escarpment. The eastern highlands, which form the border with Swaziland, are dominated by two high peaks, Mlembe (1,851 m) and Sibubule (1,750 m). The area is bisected by the deeply eroded Lomati and Komati rivers, which have carved numerous cliffs, deep gorges and valleys.

The vegetation is divided into mountain sourveld and lowveld sour bushveld, with relict patches of proteoid woodland on the escarpment. The sheltered valleys and kloofs at high altitude hold pockets of Afromontane forest, which are linked to riparian forest lower down via thickets that occur along mountain streams. Afromontane forest trees include Podocarpus, Calodendrum, Olea, Syzygium and Rapanea. Other habitats include rocky outcrops and the sheer cliffs that form part of the Drakensberg escarpment.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus resident  1998  present  A3  Vulnerable 
Buteo oreophilus resident  1998  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Blue Bustard Eupodotis caerulescens resident  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Striped Flufftail Sarothrura affinis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Knysna Turaco Tauraco corythaix resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Olive Bush-shrike Telophorus olivaceus resident  1998  present  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 
Bush Blackcap Lioptilus nigricapillus resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Near Threatened 
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 
Brown Scrub-robin Erythropygia signata resident  1998  present  A2  Least Concern 
Buff-streaked Chat Oenanthe bifasciata resident  1998  present  A1, 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 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Songimvelo Provincial Nature Reserve 49,076 protected area contains site 56,000  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Grassland - highveld  -
Forest Montane forest - mixed  -
Shrubland   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%
nature conservation and research 100%

Other biodiversity Songimvelo holds most of the global population (300 individuals) of the cycad Encephalartos heenanii and the bulk of the remaining global population of E. paucidentatus. The natural range of the fish Astatotilapia brevis is restricted to the Lomati and Komati rivers, both of which run through the reserve. The mammal Ceratotherium simum (LR/cd) has been reintroduced.

References Hughes (1966), Lawson (1982), Lawson and Edmonds (1983), Ledger (1981).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Songimvelo Nature Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/07/2014

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