|Location||South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal|
|Central coordinates||31o 58.00' East 27o 20.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2|
|Altitude||130 - 598m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See Box and Table 2 for key species. The dam and associated wetlands are important for many wetland-dependent birds. Many species probably surpass the ‘1% of the biogeographic population’ threshold, but few data exist to support this. Mycteria ibis have bred twice in this habitat, but have been absent for several years. Circus ranivorus, Centropus grillii and Tyto capensis occur throughout the grassland areas of the reserve, which still hold reasonable numbers of raptors, including small populations of Torgos tracheliotus, Gyps africanus, Terathopius ecaudatus, Polemaetus bellicosus and Aquila rapax. Circus macrourus occasionally visit the reserve. Flooded grassland favours Centropus grillii and Gallinula angulata. Large dense thickets support Apalis ruddi, Nectarinia neergaardi (20–50 birds; breeding needs confirmation) and Hypargos margaritatus. The open savanna holds a small population of Serinus citrinipectus.
Site description The site is located 30 km south-east of Pongola town. Up to two-thirds of the site consists of an artificial impoundment, depending upon water-level. The Pongola river, which flows in from the north-west, feeds the dam; only a small drowned section of the river lies inside the reserve. Aquatic vegetation is not usually well developed. Most of the surrounds are fairly flat but the eastern shore is steep to precipitous, rising to the boundary of the reserve at the top of the Lebombos. The vegetation consists of Zululand thornveld and arid lowveld. Mountain slopes have a fairly dense woodland, including trees of Berchemia, Dombeya, Acacia, Diospyros and Galpinia. The flat clay soils have a good grass cover. Acacia woodlands are extensive on these flats, and thickets of Salvadora, Acacia, Dichrostachys and Maytenus line the watercourses.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Four-coloured Bush-shrike Telophorus quadricolor||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|Rudd's Apalis Apalis ruddi||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|White-throated Robin-chat Cossypha humeralis||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|White-breasted Sunbird Nectarinia talatala||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|Neergaard's Sunbird Nectarinia neergardi||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A1, A2||Near Threatened|
|Pink-throated Twinspot Hypargos margaritatus||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Lemon-breasted Seedeater Serinus citrinipectus||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Pongolapoort Dam||Nature Reserve||9,670||protected area contains site||11,971|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Forest||Woodland - riparian||-|
|Wetlands (inland)||Ephemeral pools and wetlands||-|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||100%|
Other biodiversity The mammal Ceratotherium simum (LR/cd) has been recently reintroduced. The cycads Encephalartos ngoyanus and E. lebomboensis occur on the mountain slopes.
Management considerations The trees where the pelicans and storks were breeding were killed by recent fluctuations in water-level, and will soon rot away. Since the dam is, in principle, now to be filled to its maximum extent, the supply of suitable dead trees must come to an end. Similarly, the flooded grassland must be regarded as a temporary feature. Dropping the water-level in future is unlikely to restore the original habitat, because the exposed bare areas will be a focus for invasive non-native plants. Controlled water-level fluctuations will, however, favour ducks and geese. Periodic releases of water from the dam could achieve this, and are part of the management plan. This practice was initiated originally to simulate normal flooding on the flood-plain downstream, in order to recharge the pans there. Unfortunately, repairs dictate most water releases, and irrigation might claim much of the water in future. Nutrient pollution in the dam’s north-west extremity occurs early in most winters, a result of fertilizer run-off from the cane-lands. Dense growth of blue-green algae temporarily degrades the best area of the dam for both birds and fish. The site is part of a much larger Biosphere Reserve, and one of the adjoining areas is Gwalaweni Forest, which is fully conserved.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Pongolapoort Nature Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/05/2013
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