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Location South Africa, Free State
Central coordinates 29o 34.00' East  28o 13.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 9,300 ha
Altitude 1,700 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa

Site description This site consists of a wetland on the private farms Wilge Rivier, Chatsworth and Bedford c.20 km east of Harrismith. The farms consist primarily of flat grassveld plains, most of which are used for growing maize, wheat, soya beans and pasture grass, while most of the remaining natural grassland on the slopes is grazed by sheep and cattle. A very large, impressive wetland is situated on the properties. This wetland is minimally disturbed or modified, and is possibly only grazed lightly for part of the year. The vlei has three major arms, which unite in a main channel running below a steep ridge on the wetland’s northern border. On sections of the vlei adjacent to the steeper slopes, there are extensive, broad beds of Phragmites, up to 2.5 m tall, which often contain a rich mixture of other plant species such as Carex, Cyperus, Typha, Schoenoplectus and Leersia. On the side of the wetland adjacent to the shallow slopes, the vegetation comprises extensive patches of Typha and mixed sedges, with some grass. Around the edges there are numerous small depressions and inlets with combinations of sedges and grasses, which further increase the diversity of the vegetation.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi winter  1998  30-50 individuals  unknown  A1, A4i  Critically Endangered 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Grassland - edaphic, wet  -
Wetlands (inland) Permanent herbaceous swamps and bogs  -
Artificial - terrestrial   9%
Shrubland   83%
Forest   7%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
water management 80%
agriculture -
nature conservation and research 100%

Other biodiversity None known to BirdLife International.

References Taylor (1997a,b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bedford-Chatsworth. Downloaded from on 28/07/2014

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