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Location South Africa, North-West Province
Central coordinates 25o 36.00' East  26o 33.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4ii, A4iii
Area 4,000 ha
Altitude 1,350 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa

Site description Situated 15 km north-east of Delareyville, these two pans, along with Klippan, are in a closed basin at 1,350 m. Barberspan is a large (6 × 4 km), permanent, shallow (max. depth 11 m), alkaline lake, which has its own small catchment of 30 km². It is the largest of a series of pans in the fossil bed of the Paleo-Harts river. The lake is fed by the Harts river and is situated in open flat grassland that can be described as a great undulating plain, much of which is cultivated for summer crops, such as maize, sunflowers and groundnuts. The nearby Leeupan is connected to Barberspan via a narrow channel. Leeupan is saline, shallow, and is subject to considerable fluctuations in water-level, drying up in most winters. This often results in conditions that are favourable for some wetland species but adverse for others.

The marginal vegetation is comprised primarily of rushes and sedges, especially Juncus and Cyperus. Aquatic vegetation is dominated by Potamogeton. Located at the ecotone of three biomes, the terrestrial vegetation consists of dry sandy highveld grassland, with Karoo invaders, and clumps of well-developed Kalahari thornveld (thickets of Acacia, Rhus and Diospyros) scattered throughout.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
South African Shelduck Tadorna cana winter  543-1,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Yellow-billed Duck Anas undulata winter  2,139-5,281 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Southern Pochard Netta erythrophthalma winter  54-500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus winter  73-128 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  510-5,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni winter  100-1,000 individuals  A1, A4ii  Least Concern 
Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata winter  7,425-27,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus winter  2,860 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Barberspan Nature Reserve 3,052 protected area contained by site 3,052  
Barberspan Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 3,118 protected area contained by site 3,118  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Grassland - highveld  -
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes and pools; Rivers & streams  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 80%
water management 50%
agriculture 80%
forestry -
nature conservation and research 1%

Other biodiversity None known to BirdLife International.

References Cowan (1995), Cowan and Marneweck (1996), Farkas (1962, 1966), Mayer (1973), McAllister (1986), Milstein (1968, 1970a,b,c, 1975), Shewell (1959), Skead (1977), Skead and Dean (1977).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Barberspan and Leeupan. Downloaded from on 29/07/2014

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