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Location South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal
Central coordinates 32o 29.00' East  28o 1.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4i, A4iii
Area 167,700 ha
Altitude 0 - 180m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa



Summary Situated c. 80 km north of Richards Bay, Lake St Lucia is a subtropical coastal estuary with a long narrow channel to the sea. The lake system is about 70 km long, and, excluding The Narrows, between 3 km and 18 km wide for most of its length. It is the largest estuarine system in Africa, with a water surface area that varies from 225–417 km². The St Lucia system supports over 350 bird species and is the most important breeding area for waterbirds in South Africa.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Yellow-billed Duck Anas undulata winter  503-1,706 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Cape Shoveler Spatula smithii winter  110-512 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus breeding  6,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  6,317-30,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor winter  common  A1  Near Threatened 
African Spoonbill Platalea alba resident  200-500 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
African Spoonbill Platalea alba winter  426-1,577 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus resident  500-1,500 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus winter  1,550-3,978 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Southern Banded Snake-eagle Circaetus fasciolatus resident  1998  present  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta winter  1,265-3,460 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus winter  733-1,332 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia breeding  180-300 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia winter  158-572 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Brown-headed Parrot Poicephalus cryptoxanthus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Mangrove Kingfisher Halcyon senegaloides resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Zululand Batis Batis fratrum resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Four-coloured Bush-shrike Telophorus quadricolor resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Rudd's Apalis Apalis ruddi resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Black-bellied Glossy-starling Lamprotornis corruscus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Spotted Ground-thrush Zoothera guttata winter  present  A1  Endangered 
Mouse-coloured Sunbird Nectarinia veroxii resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Neergaard's Sunbird Nectarinia neergardi resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Near Threatened 
Pink-throated Twinspot Hypargos margaritatus resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2013 very high not assessed high
unset
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - nomadic grazing happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agricultural expansion and intensification wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - small-holder plantations happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Climate change and severe weather storms and floods likely in short term (within 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Climate change and severe weather temperature extremes likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Energy production and mining renewable energy happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species direct mortality of trigger species - hunting and trapping happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species direct mortality of trigger species - persecution/control likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution garbage and solid waste happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Transportation and service corridors flight paths happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Forest   0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Wetlands (inland)   0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  The conservation measures needed for the site are being comprehensively and effectively implemented  high 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Cape Vidal State Forest 8,288 protected area contained by site 8,288  
Greater St Lucia Wetland Nature Reserve Provincial Nature Reserve 213,358 protected area overlaps with site 49,897  
iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site 239,566 protected area contains site 167,700  
Sodwana Bay National Park 452 protected area contained by site 452  
St. Lucia System Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 155,500 protected area contained by site 155,500  
Turtle Beaches/Coral Reefs of Tongaland Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 39,500 protected area is adjacent to site 0  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Grassland - edaphic, wet  -
Wetlands (inland) Estuarine waters; Intertidal mud, sand or salt flats; Mangroves; Rivers & streams  -
Forest Lowland forest - undifferentiated; Woodland - mixed; Woodland - riparian  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 10%
water management 85%
agriculture -
water management 70%

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake St Lucia and Mkuze Swamps. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/11/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife