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Location South Africa, Northern Cape
Central coordinates 19o 35.00' East  29o 5.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 52,000 ha
Altitude 815 - 1,150m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa



Summary Situated due east of Pofadder, this IBA consists of four farms consisting of mountains, plains and grasslands. The IBA holds both the globally threatened Red Lark Calendulauda burra, which inhabits the red sand dunes, and the near-threatened Sclater's Lark Spizocorys sclateri, which occurs erratically on the barren stony plains.

Site description Situated due east of Pofadder, this site consists of four farms: Mattheus-Gat (18,000 ha), Gemsbokvlakte (10,000 ha), Pofadder East (14,000 ha) and Konkoonsies (10,000 ha). Mattheus-Gat forms the central portion of the site and, in the south of the property, holds the granitic Mattheus-Gat mountains which rise some 300 m above the surrounding plains and which provide habitat for both mountainous and mountain-slope bird species. Away from the mountains, there are sandy plains to the north, comprising perennial desert grasslands that change into a red-dune system that runs from north-west to south-east (the fossil Koa river valley).

The vegetation consists of grasses and shrubs scattered between bare sand patches. The koppies hold shrubs of Adenolobus and Rhus, especially on the mid-slopes and peaks, while the cobble-strewn bases are covered by melkboom Euphorbia in places. The gravel-plains are covered with a sparse dwarf shrubland, including species of Rhigozum, Pteronia, Tetragonia, Tarchonanthus, Ceraria, Lycium and Boscia on sandy patches. There are a few sparsely vegetated drainage lines that run from south to north. The drainage lines support taller woody vegetation and occasionally hold large Acacia trees, which provide good nesting habitat for larger bird species.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. This is one of few sites to hold both the globally threatened Certhilauda burra (200–300 pairs), which inhabits the red sand-dunes, and the near-threatened Spizocorys sclateri (up to 500 birds), which occurs occasionally on the barren stony plains. The site holds most of the species restricted to the Namib–Karoo biome, as well as a host of other arid-zone birds. The rocky outcrops of the Mattheus-Gat mountains are home to Geocolaptes olivaceus, Euryptila subcinnamomea and Onychognathus nabouroup. The plains hold Circus maurus, Polemaetus bellicosus, Ardeotis kori, Neotis ludwigii, Eupodotis vigorsii, Cursorius rufus, Pterocles namaqua, Eremalauda starki, Cercomela tractrac, C. sinuata, C. schlegelii , Eremomela gregalis and Malcorus pectoralis. During good rains, the nomadic Eremopterix australis, E. verticalis, Serinus alario and Emberiza impetuani can be superabundant. Low, scrubby vegetation holds Parus afer, Anthoscopus minutus, Sylvia layardi, Batis pririt, Stenostira scita, Nectarinia fusca, Sporopipes squamifrons and Serinus albogularis. The large trees occasionally hold the communal nests of Philetairus socius with Polihierax semitorquatus frequently in attendance. The newly recognized Certhilauda subcoronata also occurs in this region.

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
Black Harrier Circus maurus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Ludwig's Bustard Neotis ludwigii resident  1998  present  A3  Endangered 
Karoo Bustard Heterotetrax vigorsii resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus resident  present  A1  Least Concern 
Certhilauda subcoronata resident  1998  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Red Lark Certhilauda burra resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Sclater's Lark Spizocorys sclateri resident  1998  present  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Stark's Lark Eremalauda starki resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-eared Sparrow-lark Eremopterix australis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kopje Warbler Euryptila subcinnamomea resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-rumped Eremomela Eremomela gregalis 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 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - unintentional effects (species is not the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather drought likely in short term (within 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Climate change and severe weather habitat shifting and alteration likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Climate change and severe weather temperature extremes happening now whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Energy production and mining renewable energy 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%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases problematic native species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Pollution air-borne pollutants - type unknown/unrecorded happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Desert Desert dunes  0 0 poor (40-69%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable
Desert Gravel and sand plains  0 0 good (> 90%) poor (40-69%) unfavourable
Desert River beds  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management plan exists but the management planning process has begun  Very little or no conservation action taking place  negligible 

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Scrub - woodland; Shrubland - succulent Karroo  -
Grassland Grassland - secondary  -
Desert Desert dunes; Gravel and sand plains; River beds  -
Wetlands (inland) Ephemeral pools and wetlands; Saltpans  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
other -
nature conservation and research 6%
tourism/recreation -
urban/industrial/transport -

References Allan (1989, 1994b), Dean (1989, 1995, 1997), Dean and Hockey (1989), Dean and Lombard (1994), Dean and Siegfried (1997), Dean et al. (1991), du Plessis (1992), Edwards (1974), Ryan and Bloomer (in press), Steyn and Myburgh (1989), Vernon (1986), Watkeys (1986, 1987).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mattheus-Gat Conservation Area. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/05/2015

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