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Location South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal
Central coordinates 31o 52.00' East  28o 11.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 96,453 ha
Altitude 90 - 580m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa

Site description The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park (HUP) lies 20 km north-west of Mtubatuba, at the junction of the coastal plain and the foothills of the KwaZulu-Natal interior. The landscape is undulating to hilly. There is a gradual drop in altitude from west to east along the Natal Monocline. The Hluhluwe river and its tributary, the Nzimane, dissect the northern portion of the park. In the south, the Black Umfolozi and White Umfolozi rivers meander widely, before uniting at the south-eastern corner of the park. All these rivers flow permanently. There are many other seasonal streams and ephemeral rivers.

The park’s vegetation is classified as lowveld and Zululand thornveld. Accounts from the early 1800s describe grassland with very few trees. Another from 1921 describes Hluhluwe as mainly thornveld. Bushveld encroachment accelerated owing to the decimation of the large game that drove the regeneration of the open grassveld. Today the bushing-up process and spread of closed-canopy forest is fairly rapid. The transition from grassland to parkland can be seen in the Corridor, which links Hluhluwe to Umfolozi. Well-developed woodland occurs over much of the reserve, with Acacia usually dominating on sandy soils, with associated Strychnos, Albizia and Grewia, and Combretum occasionally forming monospecific stands on stony slopes. Closed evergreen forest occurs in the higher-rainfall areas of the north. The most important tree genera in these forests are Harpephyllum, Celtis, Vitellariopsis, Croton and Ficus. Riverine forest, dominated by Ficus, used to line large stretches of the major rivers until Cyclone Demoina swept nearly all away in 1984.

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 
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres winter  present [units unknown]  A1  Vulnerable 
Southern Banded Snake-eagle Circaetus fasciolatus resident  1998  present [units unknown]  A3  Near Threatened 
Corncrake Crex crex winter  present [units unknown]  A1  Least Concern 
Brown-headed Parrot Poicephalus cryptoxanthus 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 
Black-bellied Glossy-starling Lamprotornis corruscus resident  1998  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyanus resident  1998    Least Concern 
White-starred Robin Pogonocichla stellata resident  1998    Least Concern 
White-throated Robin-chat Cossypha humeralis resident  1998    Least Concern 
Chorister Robin-chat Cossypha dichroa resident  1998    Least Concern 
Brown Scrub-robin Erythropygia signata 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 
Pink-throated Twinspot Hypargos margaritatus resident  1998  present [units unknown]  A2, A3  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)  
Hluhluwe-umfolozi Provincial Nature Reserve 90,013 protected area contains site 96,453  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Grassland - edaphic, dry  -
Shrubland Scrub - woodland  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%
tourism/recreation -
agriculture -
water management 60%

Other biodiversity This area is one of the most important conservation areas in South Africa for mammals, as it is one of the last havens for large numbers of ungulates and the predators they support. Many threatened species occur throughout the park, including Ceratotherium simum (LR/cd), Diceros bicornis (CR), Lycaon pictus (EN), Loxodonta africana (EN), Acinonyx jubatus (VU) and Panthera leo (VU). Rare trees include Celtis mildbraedii, Albizia suluensis, Warburgia salutaris and Buxus natalensis.

References Bourquin et al. (1971), Downing (1972), Foster (1955), Henkel (1937), King (1970), Macdonald and Birkenstock (1980), Mentis (1970), Porter (1972, 1975), Vincent (1970), Whateley and Brooks (1985).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park. Downloaded from on 19/04/2014

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