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Location South Africa, Free State
Central coordinates 28o 40.00' East  28o 31.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4i, A4ii
Area 36,229 ha
Altitude 1,700 - 2,840m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa

Site description These two parks are situated in the Rooiberg mountain range in the north-eastern Free State, along the border with Lesotho. Within the park, there is an altitude difference of some 1,140 m between the lowest point in the Little Caledon river valley (1,700 m) and the highest peak, Ribbokkop (2,840 m). The eastern sector of this IBA is characterized by deep valleys with dense vegetation. The only major feature is Qwaqwa mountain, on an isolated range near the south-east border of Qwaqwa National Park.

Highland sourveld dominates the vegetation, and alpine tussock-grassland is particularly common above 2,000 m. In the deeper valleys and krantzes, woody communities encroach; dominants in the thickets include Cliffortia, Cussonia, Rhus, Diospyros and Protasparagus. On the flatter, deeper soils of the mountain slopes and plateau, Protea woodland dominates. In the steeper, wetter gorges, shrubby patches of Leucosidea, Buddleja and Kiggelaria enter the landscape. An extensive marsh area, dominated by Phragmites, is situated along the Klerkspruit, Rietspruit and Rietvlei drainage lines.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus resident  20-40 breeding pairs  A1, A3, A4i  Vulnerable 
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus winter  100-200 individuals  A4i  Vulnerable 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni winter  500-1,000 individuals  A1, A4ii  Least Concern 
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres winter  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Black Harrier Circus maurus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Blue Bustard Eupodotis caerulescens resident  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus resident  present  A1  Least Concern 
Bush Blackcap Lioptilus nigricapillus resident  1998  present  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Drakensberg Rockjumper Chaetops aurantius resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Least Concern 
Buff-streaked Chat Oenanthe bifasciata resident  1998  present  A1, A3  Least Concern 
Gurney's Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-breasted Pipit Anthus chloris resident  1998  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Mountain Pipit Anthus hoeschi resident  1998  present  A1, A2  Least Concern 
Drakensberg Siskin Serinus symonsi resident  1998  present  A1, A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Golden Gate Highlands National Park 11,568 protected area contains site 36,229  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Shrubland - Montane  -

Land use

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

Other biodiversity None known to BirdLife International.

References Bates (1991), Botha (1993), de Swardt and van Niekerk (1996), Earlé and Lawson (1988), Groenewald (1986), Hutsebaut et al. (1992), Kopij (1995), Pocock and Uys (1967), Potgieter (1982), Roberts (1969), Stoltz and Geyser (1973).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Downloaded from on 12/07/2014

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