|Location||South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal|
|Central coordinates||32o 38.00' East 27o 20.00' South|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information Water-bodies on the surrounding coastal plain often dry up completely during years of low rainfall; Lake Sibaya is then the only source of permanent water for birds in the area. The lake occasionally holds more than 20,000 waterbirds, including many locally rare and threatened species, some of which reach their southern limit in this vicinity. These diverse waterbird assemblages include Ciconia episcopus, Mycteria ibis, Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis, Circus ranivorus, Sterna caspia, Glareola pratincola, Nettapus auritus, Porphyrio alleni and Microparra capensis. The adjacent flooded grassland and grassland dunes hold Macronyx ameliae, Neotis denhami and Caprimulgus natalensis. The forests around the lake’s margin hold Smithornis capensis capensis (a subspecies endemic to South Africa), Cercotrichas signata, Apalis ruddi, Batis fratrum, Nectarinia veroxii and Lamprotornis corruscus.
Site description Situated 165 km north of Richards Bay in eastern Maputaland, Lake Sibaya is a freshwater coastal lake on the Mozambique coastal plain. Lake Sibaya is a drowned valley lake with a maximum depth of 43 m and a mean depth of 13 m; at its deepest point it extends 20 m below sea-level. It is the largest natural freshwater lake in South Africa and is fed only by minor streams; most of its water is supplied by seepage. Many pans typical of those elsewhere in the region surround Lake Sibaya. It has relatively little emergent fringing vegetation, which is largely confined to inlets and sheltered shorelines as small patches of Typha, Phragmites, Scirpus, Eleocharis and Cyperus, and a limited amount of floating vegetation in the same areas, e.g. floating emergent grasses. The western fringes of the lake merge into grassland. The eastern shore abuts a very rich dune forest, typically with trees of Mimusops, Deinbollia, Drypetes, Teclea, Cassipourea and Diospyros.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Zululand Batis Batis fratrum||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|Four-coloured Bush-shrike Telophorus quadricolor||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|Rudd's Apalis Apalis ruddi||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|Black-bellied Glossy-starling Lamprotornis corruscus||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyanus||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|Brown Scrub-robin Erythropygia signata||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|Mouse-coloured Sunbird Nectarinia veroxii||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|White-breasted Sunbird Nectarinia talatala||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|A4iii Species group - waterbirds||unknown||-||20,000 individuals||unknown||A4iii|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Lake Sibaya||Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar)||7,750||protected area contained by site||7,750|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Grassland||Grassland - edaphic, wet||-|
|Wetlands (inland)||Freshwater lakes and pools||-|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||100%|
Other biodiversity The lake contains a goby Silhouettea sibayi (LR/nt) which occurs nowhere else, apart from a single record from Kosi Bay (IBA ZA039).
Management considerations The water surface is state-owned and has been declared a Nature Reserve. The area is currently being fenced and it is expected that the whole lake will eventually be managed as a formally protected area. The State-owned land surrounding the lake is under no protection, and it is currently used for communal grazing. Lake Sibaya is of international importance for many reasons, and it has been recognized as such by the Ramsar Bureau, having been designated a Ramsar Site on 28 June 1991. It is an important link between the wetlands of the Kosi Bay and St Lucia systems, and the wetland supports many rural people who, in many cases, are totally dependent on the lake and the sustainable use of its biota.
References Cowan (1995), Cowan and Marneweck (1996), Taylor (1997a,b).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Sibaya. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/05/2013
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