|Location||South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal|
|Central coordinates||30o 37.00' East 29o 12.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i|
|Altitude||920 - 1,340m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Site description This site consists of a disconnected series of patches of Natal mistbelt grassland on 28 farms located in the temperate midlands of KwaZulu-Natal. The quoted area of 5,000 ha refers to the sum of these patches. The region is bounded roughly as follows: in the west by the Umtamvuna river; in the south and east by the 900 m contour line (below this the climate is too warm and dry for mistbelt grassland), and in the north by high ground above c.1,300 m (where the climate becomes too cold for mistbelt grassland). The terrain consists of rolling hills, dissected by rivers and streams, and lower-lying valleys thus occupy the intervening ground in places. Soils are often deep, allowing small streams to run underground, and sinkholes are a typical feature. The criteria for the inclusion of a farm within the IBA was the presence of one or more viable units of mistbelt grassland. Nearly all of these patches support Hirundo atrocaerulea, but two of the farms were included for their role in conserving other important grassland birds.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus||resident||-||30-40 breeding pairs||-||A1, A4i||Vulnerable|
|Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus||winter||-||60-120 individuals||-||A4i||Vulnerable|
|Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres||winter||-||present||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|Corncrake Crex crex||winter||-||present||-||A1||Least Concern|
|Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus||resident||-||present||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus||resident||-||present||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea||breeding||-||present||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial - terrestrial||21%|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||60%|
|nature conservation and research||10%|
Other biodiversity Mistbelt grassland is noted for its diversity of flowering plants and their high level of endemicity. Rarities typical of, or confined to, the Ixopo area—the heart of the range of Hirundo atrocaerulea in KwaZulu-Natal—include Satyrium rhodanthum, Gerbera aurantiaca, Dierama nixonianum and Helichrysum citricephalum. The frog Arthroleptella ngongoniensis is a highly localized endemic to this habitat. Invertebrate life is rich: two new endemic earthworms have been recently discovered, Proandricus bulwerensis and P. adriani.
References Johnson et al. (1996), Scott-Shaw et al. (1996).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: KwaZulu-Natal Mistbelt Grasslands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/08/2014
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