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Location South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal
Central coordinates 32o 17.00' East  27o 40.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4i
Area 36,474 ha
Altitude 30 - 480m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa

Site description Mkuzi Game Reserve is situated on the subtropical Mozambique coastal plain, c.330 km north of Durban and c.110 km north of Mtubatuba. The topography of the area is mainly flat or gently undulating, and is intersected by seasonal drainage lines alternating with low ridges. The western sector, which comprises the foothills of the Lebombo mountains, is rugged. The Mkuze river flows through an impressive gorge in the Lebombo mountains; the lower end of the gorge is located within the reserve.

The terrestrial vegetation is mainly lowveld of the tropical bush savanna, and is exceptionally diverse. The tall tree-savanna in the Lebombo mountains is characterized by Combretum, with grass dominating the understorey. Clay soils tend to be dominated by Acacia woodland, with associated Dichrostachys. Thickets on poorly drained, heavy black soils, are dominated by Acacia and Euclea, with occasional emergent trees of Spirostachys, Schotia, Pappea, Sideroxylon and Berchemia. Sandy soils support a completely different woodland, of Combretum, Acacia, Sclerocarya, Ziziphus and Terminalia.

The Tongoland sand-forest, around Kubube and Kumasinga hides, is a very specialized vegetation-type, unique to northern KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique, which occurs in parallel strips on the white sandy soils of the fossil dunes. The canopy (up to 10 m high) is dominated by Newtonia, Cleistanthus, Dialium, Strychnos and Pteleopsis. There is a discontinuous subcanopy tree layer, and a well-developed shrub layer, but the substratum is poorly developed. Lianas are present.

The fig forest surrounding Nsumo Pan and the riverine forest adjacent to the banks of the Mkuze river are well developed and are dominated by Ficus and Trichilia; associated trees are Rauvolfia, Celtis, Blighia and Acacia. Flood-plain grasslands occur on seasonally inundated flats adjacent to the Mkuze and Msunduzi rivers. Characteristic plants are reed Phragmites, sedge Cyperus and grasses (Echinochloa, Eriochloa, Sorghum). The major pans, particularly Nsumo Pan, are nutrient-rich and characterized by floating vegetation such as Nymphaea, Nymphoides, Potamogeton and Trapa.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus resident  present [units unknown]  A1  Vulnerable 
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus resident  1998    Vulnerable 
Southern Banded Snake-eagle Circaetus fasciolatus resident  1998  present [units unknown]  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Corncrake Crex crex winter  present [units unknown]  A1  Least Concern 
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida winter  64-179 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Brown-headed Parrot Poicephalus cryptoxanthus resident  1998  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Zululand Batis Batis fratrum resident  1998  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Olive Bush-shrike Telophorus olivaceus resident  1998    Least Concern 
Four-coloured Bush-shrike Telophorus quadricolor resident  1998  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Grey Cuckooshrike Coracina caesia resident  1998    Least Concern 
Rudd's Apalis Apalis ruddi resident  1998  present [units unknown]  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Miombo Wren-warbler Camaroptera undosa resident  1998    Least Concern 
Black-bellied Glossy-starling Lamprotornis corruscus resident  1998  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyanus resident  1998    Least Concern 
White-throated Robin-chat Cossypha humeralis resident  1998    Least Concern 
Chorister Robin-chat Cossypha dichroa resident  1998    Least Concern 
Mouse-coloured Sunbird Nectarinia veroxii resident  1998  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
White-breasted Sunbird Nectarinia talatala resident  1998    Least Concern 
Neergaard's Sunbird Nectarinia neergardi resident  1998  present [units unknown]  A1, A2, A3  Near Threatened 
Pink-throated Twinspot Hypargos margaritatus resident  1998  present [units unknown]  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Swee Waxbill Estrilda melanotis resident  1998    Least Concern 
Lemon-breasted Seedeater Serinus citrinipectus resident  1998  present [units unknown]  A2, A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Mkuzi Game Reserve 22,479 protected area contains site 36,474  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Unknown   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%
tourism/recreation -
water management 30%
agriculture -
water management 80%

Other biodiversity Among plants, the Lebombos support many rare species, including the cycads Encephalartos ngoyanus and E. lebomboensis, as well as Pachypodium saundersii, Hemizygia ramosa, Pachycarpus lebomboensis and Polystachya zuluensis, while low-lying grassland holds Rhus kwazuluana, and the sand-forest holds Combretum mkuzense (LR/nt). Large mammals are well represented, and include Ceratotherium simum (LR/cd), Diceros bicornis (CR) and Acinonyx jubatus (VU); Loxodonta africana (EN) have recently been reintroduced to Mkuzi.

References Davies (1967), Dixon (1964), Moll (1968), Pooley (1965), Taylor (1997a,b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mkuzi Game Reserve. Downloaded from on 21/04/2014

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