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Location South Africa, North-West Province
Central coordinates 27o 5.00' East  25o 15.00' South
IBA criteria A1
Area 50,000 ha
Altitude 1,000 - 1,669m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa



Summary Pilanesberg National Park lies about 160 km northwest of Johannesburg, and is the fourth largest protected area in South Africa. The Park covers a wide range of habitats, including vleis, lakes, streams, thick bush, broadleaved and Acacia woodland, koppies, open grasslands and former farmlands. The Park holds over 300 species of bird.

Site description Pilanesberg National Park (called a national park because it used to belong to the homeland of Bophuthatswana) is managed by North-west Nature Conservation. It lies c.160 km north-west of Johannesburg, and is the fourth-largest protected area in South Africa. The park covers a wide range of habitats, including vleis, lakes, streams, thick bush, broadleaved and Acacia woodland, koppies, open grasslands and former farmlands. The park encompasses the Pilanesberg mountains. The resulting structure is a ring-complex of concentric koppies, the highest being 1,669 m, interspersed in a matrix of low-lying plains.

The Mankwe river and its five major tributaries provide most of the park’s water. In the past, farmers constructed additional water-storage dams for livestock in order to supplement non-perennial streams. The largest impoundment, Mankwe Lake, is in the centre of the park. There is a sharp contrast between the tree-dotted hill-slope vegetation and the pure grassland of the pediments. Areas of secondary grassland occur on old cultivated fields. In the valleys, there are trees of Acacia, Spirostachys, Rhus, Ziziphus and Combretum. The pediment savannas hold trees of Faurea and to a lesser extent Acacia. The hill savanna is wooded mainly with trees of Combretum and Dombeya.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. The park holds over 300 species of bird. Situated midway between the colonies of Gyps coprotheres at Magaliesberg (IBA ZA018; c.100 km away) and at Waterberg (IBA ZA006; c.150 km away), this site regularly holds foraging birds of this species. The park also holds small numbers of Gyps africanus and occasionally Torgos tracheliotus. The reserve is also good for other raptors and supports small numbers of Polemaetus bellicosus, Terathopius ecaudatus, Aquila verreauxii, A. rapax, A. wahlbergi and Hieraaetus spilogaster. The surrounding woodland-grassland mosaic is known to hold Ardeotis kori and Grus paradisea. Other woodland species include Mirafra passerina, Cossypha humeralis, Cercotrichas paena, Eremomela usticollis, Bradornis mariquensis, Laniarius atrococcineus, Eurocephalus anguitimens, Passer motitensis, Sporopipes squamifrons, Uraeginthus granatina, Estrilda erythronotos and Vidua regia.

Non-bird biodiversity: The spectacular plant, Erythrophysa transvaalensis, is restricted to c.250 individuals, most of which occur within the Pilanesberg. Several threatened species of large mammal were reintroduced through ‘Operation Genesis’, the restocking programme of the early 1980s, including Ceratotherium simum (LR/cd), Diceros bicornis (CR), Loxodonta africana (EN) and Acinonyx jubatus (VU). Owing to their secretive nocturnal habits, Hyaena brunnea (LR/nt) and Manis temminckii (LR/nt) have maintained natural populations in the area without being hunted out.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres winter  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 

IBA Monitoring

2014 very high favourable high
Habitat
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Biological resource use gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Climate change and severe weather habitat shifting and alteration happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Climate change and severe weather storms and floods happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) 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%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of ground water (unknown use) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Pollution air-borne pollutants - smog happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - sewage happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Pollution excess energy - light pollution happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution excess energy - noise pollution happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Grassland   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Rocky areas   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Savanna Wooded grassland  0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Wetlands (inland) Rivers & streams  0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  The conservation measures needed for the site are being comprehensively and effectively implemented  high 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Pilansberg Game Reserve Provincial Nature Reserve 46,822 protected area contains site 50,000  

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

Name Year formed
Vulture study group 0

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Savanna Bushland & thicket - montane; Wooded grassland  -
Wetlands (inland) Rivers & streams  -
Artificial - terrestrial   11%
Shrubland   21%
Forest   68%
Grassland   -
Rocky areas   -

Land use

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

References Benson et al. (1990), Brett (1989), Hancock (1985), Ryan and Isom (1990).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Pilanesberg National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/09/2015

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