|Location||South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal|
|Central coordinates||31o 25.00' East 27o 30.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A3, A4i|
|Altitude||350 - 1,550m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Site description Itala Game Reserve is located 15 km from Louwsburg in the rolling hills south of the Pongola river. Drainage lines and deep valleys, extending predominantly north–south, and opening mostly into the Pongola river basin, cleave the area. This results in an extremely varied topography and rugged terrain, with steep rocky cliff-faces and deep gorges dissected by numerous streams with a network of pools. The area varies in altitude from 350 m at the Pongola river to 1,550 m on the plateau to the west of Louwsburg.Three woodland-types are recognized: one is found in the valley bottoms, another at intermediate altitudes, and the third on the highest plateau. The lowland community is dominated by trees of Acacia, Combretum, Ficus and Albizia. The middleveld also holds Acacia and Combretum (especially on stony hill-slopes), as well as Faurea, Protea, Pavetta and Cussonia. Along the watercourses Combretum, Ziziphus, Rhus and Catha are found. The region on the high plateau, above 1,250 m, is open and treeless and dominated by grass. Bulbous geophytes are common and the shrub community is dominated by Euclea and Leucosidea.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus||resident||-||20-30 breeding pairs||-||A1, A4i||Vulnerable|
|Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus||winter||-||50-80 individuals||-||A4i||Vulnerable|
|Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus||resident||-||present||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|Brown-headed Parrot Poicephalus cryptoxanthus||resident||1998||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Four-coloured Bush-shrike Telophorus quadricolor||resident||1998||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Black-bellied Glossy-starling Lamprotornis corruscus||resident||1998||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Ithala||Provincial Nature Reserve||29,356||protected area contains site||29,653|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Grassland||Grassland - secondary||-|
|Forest||Woodland - mixed||-|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||100%|
Other biodiversity Several mammal species have been reintroduced here, including Ceratotherium simum (LR/cd), Diceros bicornis (CR), Loxodonta africana (EN) and Acinonyx jubatus (VU), and there is a naturally occurring population of Hyaena brunnea (LR/nt).
References Rautenbach et al. (1981).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ithala Game Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/07/2014
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