|Location||South Africa, Mpumalanga|
|Central coordinates||30o 15.00' East 26o 19.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i, A4ii, A4iii|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information 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.
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%).
|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 [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus||winter||-||80-100 individuals||-||A1, A4i||Vulnerable|
|Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus||resident||1998||-||-||Vulnerable|
|Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni||winter||-||1,000-5,000 individuals||-||A1, A4ii||Least Concern|
|Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus||winter||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus||winter||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni||winter||-||5,000 individuals||-||A1, A4i||Near Threatened|
|Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyanus||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|Buff-streaked Chat Oenanthe bifasciata||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|A4iii Species group - waterbirds||winter||-||20,000 individuals||unknown||A4iii|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Grassland||Grassland - edaphic, wet||-|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||1%|
|nature conservation and research||100%|
Other biodiversity The plant Odontelytrum abyssinicum is a highly localized and threatened pan specialist.
Management considerations A major threat to the pans comes from agricultural development. Many pans in crop farming regions are subject to contamination by pesticides and nutrient pollution by fertilizers. The closed-basin nature of pans exacerbates this problem, with toxic substances, including poisons that pose a threat to wildlife, concentrating in their basins. Ploughing, overgrazing and excessive trampling by livestock further damage shoreline vegetation, increase wind erosion, and lead to the siltation of pan basins. Opencast mines can totally destroy pans. Coal mines and associated power stations produce acid rain (less than pH 3), which dramatically affects the alkaline pans, reducing pH, interfering with pan functioning and modifying the vegetation and fauna inhabiting these systems. Power lines and telephone lines running close to pans are a major cause of mortality to waterbirds that occasionally fly into these structures.Commercial afforestation around pans is a growing threat. Plantations cause increased levels of evapotranspiration, and decreased amounts of water draining into the pans, ultimately lowering the water-table. The effect of afforestation would be to reduce run-off from an effective 700 mm per year to 400 mm. Land acquisition to conserve this area is somewhat impractical, as the pan system is widely dispersed throughout agriculturally productive land. Similarly, few of the pans are ever flooded and functional at any one time, making acquisition of a portion of the system as a reserve inadequate.Appropriate management strategies, aimed at managing land under private ownership, are as important as land acquisition for formal nature reserves. Awareness programmes for land-owners and other interested and affected parties who affect these systems is urgently required. Legislation and its effective enforcement should be considered, so as to halt wanton environmental degradation of pans.
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 (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Chrissie Pans. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/05/2013
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