Sites - Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
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South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal
29o 25.00' East 30o 18.00' South
1,224 - 1,411m
Year of IBA assessment
BirdLife South Africa
Summary Franklin Vlei is a large complex wetland that has several areas of significance. The first of these is Vogelvlei, which is comparatively undisturbed. The second significant area is the causeway that crosses a wet zone of the vlei near Franklin village. Franklin Vlei has the largest known White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi population in South Africa.
Site description Franklin vlei is a large, complex wetland that has several areas of significance. The first of these is Vogelvlei, which is comparatively undisturbed. It is not burned annually, and normally has moderate grazing pressure. The dominant vegetation in the most deeply flooded areas is extensive beds of Typha and Phragmites, while permanently shallowly flooded to saturated ground is dominated by large sedges, principally Carex, Cyperus and Schoenoplectus.The second significant area is the causeway that crosses a wet zone of the vlei near Franklin village. The area adjacent to the causeway is permanently flooded and contains very large beds of Typha, large stands of Phragmites (most commonly along the river channels), much floating and emergent grass (principally Leersia), many patches of open water which are often secluded, areas of tall flooded sedges Cyperus, and a mixture of sedges (especially Eleocharis) and reeds.
The Llewellyn area is an arm of the main Franklin vlei and has similar vegetation to most other areas of the main wetland. Rheboksfontein has extensive beds of almost monospecific Carex, stands of Phragmites and Typha in its more deeply flooded areas, excellent mixed sedges including Cyperus, Schoenoplectus and Eleocharis, and, in wet areas, smaller sedges such as Pycreus, Kyllinga and Cyperus together with wet grassland. Flitwick Grange has a large central area of Carex with mixed sedge-beds of Cyperus, Eleocharis and Schoenoplectus, and fringing mixed tussocky sedges, Juncus and grasses. Holwell is a much-degraded wetland dominated by grass and short sedge species including Cyperus, Eleocharis, Pycreus, Fuirena and Schoenoplectus, which has been partially drained by the digging of a furrow along its centre. It is grazed and quite frequently burned. The Ruswarp area is predominantly moist grassland, with sedge meadow in wetter depressions, along the Mzintlava river. It is heavily grazed by sheep over much of its area, frequently burned, and has some poplar plantations near the river. Dominant sedges include Pycreus, Fuirena, Eleocharis, Cyperus and Schoenoplectus. Juncus and Cyperus fringe the river channel in many places. Hebron is largely protected and has excellent beds of Carex, stands of Typha and Phragmites along stream channels, and areas of mixed sedges and wet grassland.
Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Franklin vlei has the largest known (i.e. properly counted/estimated) population of Sarothrura ayresi in South Africa. The species inhabits the Carex-dominated areas and the taller vegetation at Vogelvlei. The principal interest at Llewellyn is a breeding pair of Grus carunculatus. The vegetation is too short and sparse over most of the area to support many rallids, although the listed wetland species do occur in pockets of suitable cover, while Crex crex occurs in wet grassland at the edge of the wetland, especially in years when patches of moist mixed grassland are allowed to develop without disturbance.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.