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Location South Africa, Mpumalanga
Central coordinates 30o 15.00' East  26o 19.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4ii, A4iii
Area 62,500 ha
Altitude 1,808 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa



Summary The Chrissie Pans IBA lies in the Mpumalanga Lakes District (85 065 ha), centred on the village of Chrissiesmeer. This site comprises a system of over 320 pans on private land, and boasts the largest natural inland freshwater lake in South Africa. When the pans are wet, total numbers regularly exceed 20 000 birds.

Site description This site comprises a system of over 320 pans on private land c.30 km east of Breyten. The primary area of pans runs from Tevrede se Pan (26°13’S 30°11’E) in the north to Burgerspan (26°28’S 30°10’E) in the south, and from Goedeverwachtingpan (26°16’S 30°07’E) in the west to Lake Banagher (26°21’S 30°23’E) in the east. The Chrissie system comprises a remarkable variety of pans. Reed pans are mostly permanent, usually retaining water throughout the year. They have a diverse flora, characterized by Phragmites, which forms a dense extensive reedbed covering most of the pan basin. Sedge pans are semi-permanent, usually drying up during the winter and/or dry spells, when they are almost devoid of vegetation. Saline pans are characterized by their glaring white basins when dry and have extremely saline substrata and water. The basins of these pans usually lack vegetation.

There is considerable overlap in the common plants between the three pan-types. The pans, and their functioning, remain intact, despite existing in a matrix that consists almost exclusively of maize (80%), interspersed with small fragmented patches of natural grassland (20%).

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. The Chrissie Pans support very large numbers (from a southern African perspective) of flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber and P. minor). The system is probably also an important refuge for the small floating population of Grus carunculatus remaining in Mpumalanga. Other species present in large numbers include Balearica regulorum, Charadrius pallidus and Circus ranivorus. When inundated, these wetlands also support large numbers of waterbirds, with total numbers regularly exceeding 20,000 individuals. In addition to the aquatic birds, several dryland species use the extensive Phragmites beds in the reedpans for roosting, including Falco amurensis and Hirundo rustica, which roost at the pans in flocks numbering thousands. The surrounding grassland-maize matrix occasionally supports Geronticus calvus, Falco naumanni, Grus paradisea, Neotis denhami, Eupodotis senegalensis, Tyto capensis, Glareola nordmanni and Circus maurus.

Non-bird biodiversity: The plant Odontelytrum abyssinicum is a highly localized and threatened pan specialist.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  1,991-3,522 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor winter  common  A1  Near Threatened 
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus winter  80-100 individuals  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni winter  1,000-5,000 individuals  A1, A4ii  Least Concern 
Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus winter  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus winter  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni winter  5,000 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2012 very high not assessed low
unset
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - nomadic grazing happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - agro-industry plantations happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Climate change and severe weather habitat shifting and alteration likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Energy production and mining oil and gas drilling likely in long term (beyond 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases problematic native species/diseases - named species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - small dams happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid 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
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - nutrient loads happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution air-borne pollutants - smog happening now whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - sewage happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution garbage & solid waste happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium
Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Grassland   0 0 moderate (70-90%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable
Wetlands (inland)   0 0 moderate (70-90%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable

Phoenicopterus roseus Greater Flamingo 4047 250 individuals 7 not assessed
Phoeniconaias minor Lesser Flamingo 10565 10000 individuals 95 favourable
Geronticus calvus Southern Bald Ibis 100 120 individuals 100 favourable
Falco naumanni Lesser Kestrel 5000 0 individuals 0 not assessed
Eupodotis caerulescens Blue Bustard 80 23 individuals 29 very unfavourable
Bugeranus carunculatus Wattled Crane 10 0 individuals 0 very unfavourable
Anthropoides paradiseus Blue Crane 200 5 individuals 3 very unfavourable
Glareola nordmanni Black-winged Pratincole 5000 5000 individuals 100 not assessed
Species group - waterbirds A4iii 21462 13577 individuals 64 not assessed

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management plan exists but the management planning process has begun  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  low 

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Grassland - edaphic, wet  -
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes and pools  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 80%
forestry -
nature conservation and research 100%

References Allan (1985, 1987), Allan and Brown (1991), Allan et al. (1995), Breen et al. (1993), Sharp and Allan (1985), Tarboton (1997a,b,c), Wellington (1943).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Chrissie Pans. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 03/07/2015

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