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Location South Africa, Free State,KwaZulu-Natal,Mpumalanga
Central coordinates 30o 1.00' East  27o 15.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4i, A4ii, A4iii
Area 1,050,000 ha
Altitude 1,700 - 2,291m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa



Summary This vast area (c. 1 050 000 ha) is centred on the towns of Volksrust and Wakkerstroom. The previously proposed, but not yet declared, Biosphere Reserve comprises some 800 private farms, several municipalities, conservancies, Biodiversity Stewardship Protected Environments and a considerable amount of State-owned land. A series of farms and conservancies in the Harrismith, Vrede and Memel districts of the Free State is included. The area comprises gentle rolling hills on the South African plateau (1 700 – 1 800 m a.s.l.) that are broken regularly by parts of the Mpumalanga Drakensberg escarpment, small ranges such as the Gemsbokberg (2 095 m a.s.l.), Versamelberg (2 139 m a.s.l.) and Balelesberg (2 055 m a.s.l.), as well as the higher peaks around Wakkerstroom, such as Ntshele (2 291 m a.s.l.), Ossewakop (2 170 m a.s.l.), Kanonkop (2 112 m a.s.l.) and KwaMandlangampisi (2 266 m a.s.l.).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Maccoa Duck Oxyura maccoa non-breeding  100-500 individuals  A4i  Near Threatened 
Maccoa Duck Oxyura maccoa breeding  50-150 breeding pairs  A4i  Near Threatened 
White-backed Duck Thalassornis leuconotus non-breeding  100-500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
White-backed Duck Thalassornis leuconotus breeding  50-150 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
African Black Duck Anas sparsa non-breeding  400-1,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Yellow-billed Duck Anas undulata non-breeding  10,000-30,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Yellow-billed Duck Anas undulata breeding  5,000-10,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Cape Shoveler Spatula smithii non-breeding  200-600 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Southern Pochard Netta erythrophthalma non-breeding  500-1,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis non-breeding  1,000-5,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis breeding  200-2,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus non-breeding  200-500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus breeding  100-200 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis non-breeding  100-250 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis breeding  50-100 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Black Stork Ciconia nigra non-breeding  10-30 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Black Stork Ciconia nigra breeding  3-10 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus breeding  1998  500 breeding pairs  unknown  A1, A3, A4i  Vulnerable 
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus non-breeding  1,000-4,000 individuals  A4i  Vulnerable 
Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash non-breeding  1,000-10,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash breeding  500-5,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni winter  1,000-5,000 individuals  A1, A4ii  Least Concern 
Buteo oreophilus resident  1998  present  A3  Not Recognised 
White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi non-breeding  1998  30-70 individuals  A1, A4i  Critically Endangered 
Striped Flufftail Sarothrura affinis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Corncrake Crex crex winter  present  A1  Least Concern 
Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata breeding  12,000-18,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata non-breeding  25,000-60,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus resident  common  A1  Vulnerable 
Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus breeding  100-200 breeding pairs  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus non-breeding  200-500 individuals  A4i  Vulnerable 
Wattled Lapwing Vanellus senegallus breeding  300-500 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Wattled Lapwing Vanellus senegallus non-breeding  1,000-1,300 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Black-winged Lapwing Vanellus melanopterus non-breeding  500-1,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
African Snipe Gallinago nigripennis breeding  500-1,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
African Snipe Gallinago nigripennis non-breeding  1,000-3,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni winter  1,000-5,000 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus winter  2,500-10,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Knysna Turaco Tauraco corythaix resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus resident  present  A1  Least Concern 
Olive Bush-shrike Telophorus olivaceus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey Cuckooshrike Coracina caesia resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Rudd's Lark Heteromirafra ruddi resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Botha's Lark Spizocorys fringillaris resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
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, 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  A3  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 
Yellow-breasted Pipit Anthus chloris resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Forest Canary Serinus scotops resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds non-breeding  50,000-99,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  50,000-99,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2013 very high very unfavourable low
  Habitat
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - nomadic grazing happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
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 short term (within 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Energy production and mining renewable energy likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive and other problematic species and genes invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Invasive and other problematic species and genes problematic native species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) 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%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - nutrient loads happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - type unknown/unrecorded happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution excess energy - light pollution likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium
Pollution excess energy - noise pollution happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Forest Montane forest - mixed  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Grassland Grassland - edaphic, wet  0 0 moderate (70-90%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable
Wetlands (inland)   0 0 poor (40-69%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable

Bugeranus carunculatus Wattled Crane 15 7 individuals 47 not assessed
Anthropoides paradiseus Blue Crane 200 150 individuals 75 not assessed

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  low 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve 16,618 protected area contained by site 4,416  
Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 4,754 protected area contained by site 4,754  

Local conservation groups The local conservation group below is working to support conservation at this IBA.

Name Year formed
Wakkerstrrom Site Support Group 2007

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Grassland - edaphic, wet  -
Wetlands (inland) Ephemeral pools and wetlands; Rivers & streams  -
Forest Montane forest - mixed  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
forestry 10%
nature conservation and research 3%
water management 1%
agriculture -
nature conservation and research 6%

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Grasslands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/12/2014

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