email a friend
printable version
Location South Africa, Northern Cape
Central coordinates 20o 20.00' East  28o 35.00' South
IBA criteria A3
Area 25,900 ha
Altitude 582 - 914m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa

Site description The Augrabies Falls National Park is situated on the vast Bushmanland peneplain where it straddles the Orange river, c.380 km inland of Alexander Bay. Between Kakamas and the Augrabies Falls, a distance of c.35 km, the river flows through a wide, flat, cultivated valley. From the 146-m-high falls at the park headquarters it meanders down a deep, narrow gorge for several kilometres before reaching the level surface of the surrounding plains once again. The rest of the park is flat with low relief, scattered with large rounded domes. Drainage channels are sandy, gravelly and dry and are mostly very shallow, or occasionally deeper with rocky sides and broad beds. The area is classed as an arid to semi-arid cold desert.The park’s vegetation comprises mainly Orange river Nama-Karoo, typically with trees and shrubs of Sarcostemma, Acacia, Rhus, Salix, Rhigozum, Boscia and Cadaba, and succulents (Aloe, Euphorbia) on the steep, rocky mountain-slopes. In the riverbeds, sandy deposits occasionally form islands that hold a tall open grassland. Upstream of the falls, the Orange river is a braided stream with much fine alluvial sand and silt forming complex islands, which hold gallery forest along the river arms, dominated by Ziziphus, Euclea, Maytenus, Rhus, Acacia and Tamarix, with Lycium and Diospyros in the shrub layer. Phragmites grows in patches along the river. In the gorges downstream of the waterfall Ficus grows sparsely on the rocks.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Ludwig's Bustard Neotis ludwigii resident  1998  present  A3  Endangered 
Karoo Bustard Eupodotis vigorsii resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Karoo Lark Certhilauda albescens resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Stark's Lark Eremalauda starki resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-eared Sparrow-lark Eremopterix australis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Namaqua Warbler Phragmacia substriata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kopje Warbler Euryptila subcinnamomea resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Layard's Warbler Sylvia layardi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pale-winged Starling Onychognathus nabouroup resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sicklewing Chat Cercomela sinuata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Karoo Chat Cercomela schlegelii resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Tractrac Chat Cercomela tractrac resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-headed Canary Serinus alario resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Augrabies Falls National Park 55,361 protected area contains site 25,900  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Shrubland - succulent Karroo  -
Artificial - terrestrial   2%
Grassland   97%

Land use

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

Other biodiversity Among plants, the distinctive southern African endemic Aloe dichotoma is common within the park. The permanently flowing sections of the river support two important fish species, the Vaal-Orange river endemic Austroglanis sclateri (DD) and Barbus hospes (LR/nt), which is restricted to the Orange river below the Augrabies Falls. Among herptiles, this is the only protected area in the world supporting the endemic frog Phrynomerus annectens and the lizard Platysaurus broadleyi; the latter is restricted to the lower Orange river valley between Augrabies and Pella. The threatened mammal Diceros bicornis (CR) was reintroduced to the park in 1985.

References Leistner (1967), Leistner and Werger (1973), Low and Rebelo (1996), Rautenbach et al. (1979), Werger (1973).

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Augrabies Falls National Park. Downloaded from on 10/07/2014

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