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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



Summary Barberspan is a large (6 x 4 km), permanent, shallow alkaline lake, which has its own small catchment of 30 km2. The IBA includes the nearby Leeupan, which is connected to Barberspan via a narrow channel.

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.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. More than 320 bird species have been recorded at the site and in the surrounding nature reserve. Barberspan is particularly important as a drought refuge and a moulting site for waterbirds, which congregate in large numbers (exceeding 20,000 individuals) during the dry season (April–October) when all the small wetlands in the surrounding districts have dried up completely. All but one of South Africa’s indigenous duck species have been recorded here. The waterbirds disperse to breed in sheltered temporary pans and vleis once the summer rains arrive. Breeding species include Charadrius pallidus and Sterna caspia, which occur sporadically at low densities. Fulica cristata almost

always breed in huge numbers: once over 12,000 breeding pairs were recorded.Barberspan is also vitally important for regionally nomadic waterbirds and as a stop-over site for Palearctic migrant waders. The water-level determines which species are present on the pans. When low, conditions are suitable for large numbers of waders. In wet years, the shoreline consists of mainly inundated grassland, which results in large numbers of herons, egrets and Podiceps cristatus moving in to breed. During the austral summer, the adjacent Barberspan Nature Reserve supports many migrant Falco naumanni, while resident Cercomela sinuata, Cercotrichas paena, Laniarius atrococcineus and Malcorus pectoralis breed here.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

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   

IBA Monitoring

2013 very high not assessed medium
unset
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - shifting agriculture happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale 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 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 some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid 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%) slow but significant deterioration high
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - soil erosion, sedimentation happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - sewage happening now whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
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 small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high

Grassland   0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Wetlands (inland)   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable

Oxyura maccoa Maccoa Duck 230 560 individuals 100 favourable
Plectropterus gambensis Spur-winged Goose 3000 5000 individuals 100 favourable
Alopochen aegyptiaca Egyptian Goose 2000 4000 individuals 100 favourable
Tadorna cana South African Shelduck 1000 3000 individuals 100 favourable
Anas undulata Yellow-billed Duck 5281 6000 individuals 100 favourable
Spatula smithii Cape Shoveler 250 800 individuals 100 favourable
Anas erythrorhyncha Red-billed Teal 5000 6000 individuals 100 favourable
Netta erythrophthalma Southern Pochard 500 5000 individuals 100 favourable
Podiceps nigricollis Black-necked Grebe 207 5000 individuals 100 favourable
Phoenicopterus roseus Greater Flamingo 7000 7000 individuals 100 favourable
Phoeniconaias minor Lesser Flamingo 15000 30000 individuals 100 favourable
Platalea alba African Spoonbill 91 150 individuals 100 favourable
Pelecanus onocrotalus Great White Pelican 200 200 individuals 100 favourable
Pelecanus rufescens Pink-backed Pelican 50 50 individuals 100 favourable
Falco naumanni Lesser Kestrel 1000 2500 individuals 100 favourable
Circus ranivorus African Marsh-harrier 10 10 individuals 100 favourable
Gyps africanus White-backed Vulture 250 250 individuals 100 favourable
Fulica cristata Red-knobbed Coot 27000 20000 individuals 75 near favourable
Charadrius pallidus Chestnut-banded Plover 500 500 individuals 100 favourable
Glareola nordmanni Black-winged Pratincole 1500 1500 individuals 100 favourable
Hydroprogne caspia Caspian Tern 70 400 individuals 100 favourable
Chlidonias leucopterus White-winged Tern 2860 3000 individuals 100 favourable
Tyto capensis African Grass-owl 20 20 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Sagittarius serpentarius Secretarybird 5 5 individuals 100 favourable

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  medium 

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  

Habitats

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)
water management 50%
agriculture 80%
forestry -
nature conservation and research 1%

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 (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Barberspan and Leeupan. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/07/2015

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife