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Location South Africa, Free State,North-West Province
Central coordinates 25o 45.00' East  27o 40.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 55,372 ha
Altitude 1,228 - 1,271m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa

Site description The reserves lie on the Free State/North-west Province border, surrounding the Bloemhof Dam, an impoundment on the Vaal river. Sandveld Nature Reserve protects a remnant patch of the eastern form of Kalahari Thornveld, which projects into the grassland biome. The Kalahari Thornveld in this region previously covered a much greater area. The central portion of the reserve supports some excellent dense stands of Acacia savanna with Brachiaria as a co-dominant. The remainder of the reserve is dominated by open short grassveld, with clumps of Tarchonanthus and small thickets of Ziziphus, Rhus and Acacia scattered throughout.

There are also extensive areas which, in the past, were cleared for grazing or cultivation; these open areas persist in the reserve either as open grassland or regenerating woodland. There is also an area of previously intensely overgrazed grassland, where karroid vegetation has invaded. Most of the reserve is very flat; there are a few low koppies and ridges, covered mainly with hillside bush of Olea and Rhus. Although the level of Bloemhof Dam can show large fluctuations, there are also times when it remains low for extended periods because the Vaal Dam, upstream, captures the major part of the catchment waters. Pans form under these conditions, and the exposed dam basin is colonized by grasses and extensive stands of annuals.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Cape Shoveler Spatula smithii winter  183-490 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis winter  150-540 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus winter  75 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  760-1,632 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor winter  frequent  A1  Near Threatened 
African Spoonbill Platalea alba winter  67-193 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
African Darter Anhinga rufa winter  273-610 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta non-breeding  271-716 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve 21,685 protected area contained by site 21,207  
Sandveld Nature Reserve 32,729 protected area contained by site 37,735  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Shrubland - bushy Karroo  -
Grassland Grassland - Semi-desert  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%
water management 80%
fisheries/aquaculture -
tourism/recreation -

Other biodiversity Several large mammals have been reintroduced, including Ceratotherium simum (LR/nt).

References Colahan (1992a,b, 1993a,b, 1994a,b), Kopij and Nuttall (1996), Nuttall (1993, 1995).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sandveld and Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserves. Downloaded from on 29/07/2014

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