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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



Summary The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park lies 20 km northwest of Mtubatuba, at the junction of the coastal plain and the foothills of the KwaZulu-Natal interior. The Park is known to support over 400 bird species, about 46% of the species found in the southern African sub-region. The bird diversity within the Park can be attributed to the variety of habitats in this area.

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.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The park is known to support over 400 bird species, about 46% of the species found in the southern African subregion. The bird diversity within the park can be attributed to the variety of habitats in this area. Large riverine trees provide habitat for many of the more secretive river-dependent species such as Gorsachius leuconotus and Podica senegalensis. The rivers, flood-plains, pans, dams and vleis are important for many wetland-dependent and associated birds, including Ciconia nigra, which breed in gorges in the nearby mountains. Ciconia episcopus, Anastomus lamelligerus and Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis occur in small numbers. Several pairs of Geronticus calvus are known to breed within the complex, but they forage mostly outside the area. Several large species that are rare outside South Africa’s large parks are locally common here, including Gyps africanus, Torgos tracheliotus, Trigonoceps occipitalis, Polemaetus bellicosus, Terathopius ecaudatus and Aquila rapax. Bucorvus cafer, Neotis denhami, Circus macrourus and Tyto capensis occur in smaller numbers. The small patches of palm-savanna support Serinus citrinipectus.

Non-bird 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.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres winter  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Southern Banded Snake-eagle Circaetus fasciolatus resident  1998  present  A3  Near Threatened 
Corncrake Crex crex winter  present  A1  Least Concern 
Brown-headed Parrot Poicephalus cryptoxanthus 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 
Mouse-coloured Sunbird Nectarinia veroxii resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pink-throated Twinspot Hypargos margaritatus resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Lemon-breasted Seedeater Serinus citrinipectus resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2014 very high very unfavourable high
Habitat
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Biological resource use gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - unintentional effects (species is not the target) likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Climate change and severe weather drought likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Energy production and mining renewable energy likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now whole area/population (>90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases problematic native species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - small dams happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Natural system modifications other ecosystem modifications happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - run-off likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Pollution excess energy - noise pollution happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution garbage & solid waste likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Forest Woodland - mixed  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Forest Woodland - riparian  0 0 poor (40-69%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable
Savanna Wooded grassland  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)  
Hluhluwe-umfolozi Provincial Nature Reserve 90,013 protected area contains site 96,453  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Woodland - mixed; Woodland - riparian  -
Shrubland Scrub - woodland  -
Savanna Wooded grassland  -

Land use

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

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 (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/07/2015

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