Sites - Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
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Umgeni Vlei Nature Reserve
South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal
29o 50.00' East 29o 29.00' South
1,840 - 2,081m
Year of IBA assessment
BirdLife South Africa
Summary Umgeni Vlei is located 20 km due southwest of Nottingham Road in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. The main vlei is about 300 ha in extent, and is underlain by Karroo dolerite. The vlei is a large sponge that is the source of the Umgeni River. Main habitat types include marsh areas dominated by sedges, flooded grassland and areas of Highland Sourveld surrounding the vlei.
Site description Umgeni Vlei is located 20 km due south-west of Nottingham Road in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. The main vlei is about 300 ha in extent, and is underlain by Karoo dolerite. It lies at an altitude of 1,840 m, with the highest hill in the reserve at 2,081 m. The vlei functions as a large sponge that is the source of the Umgeni river. The centre of the vlei has extensive areas of Carex marsh, with a ‘hummock-depression’ structure in places, intermixed with Cyperus, Pycreus and Juncus, and submerged vegetation such as Lagarosiphon and Utricularia. The grassland surrounding the vlei is an example of highland sourveld.
Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. The extensive vlei is good for cranes (Gruidae), and both Grus carunculatus and Balearica regulorum regularly breed there. It is the premier site in South Africa for Grus carunculatus—up to six pairs have nested in the main vlei, with four others nesting in four smaller vleis, all within the reserve boundary. At least two pairs of Balearica regulorum and one pair of Grus paradisea are also present in the IBA, the latter in the grassland surrounding the vlei, which also supports several other species of threatened bird, including Anthus chloris. The vlei could potentially support Sarothrura ayresi. Cisticola brunnescens forage and breed in the flooded grassland adjacent to the vlei. The rocky terrain at higher altitude supports Geocolaptes olivaceus, Saxicola bifasciata, Monticola explorator and Chaetops aurantius. Both Gyps coprotheres and the rare but widespread Gypaetus barbatus are regular visitors to the area.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.