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Location South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal
Central coordinates 29o 25.00' East  30o 18.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 5,244 ha
Altitude 1,224 - 1,411m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

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.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi winter  1998  40-75 individuals  A1, A4i  Critically Endangered 
Corncrake Crex crex winter  present  A1  Least Concern 
Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus resident  1 breeding pairs  A1  Vulnerable 

IBA Monitoring

2013 high not assessed negligible
  unset
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - nomadic grazing happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - agro-industry plantations happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Biological resource use gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - persecution/control likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather storms and floods likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Energy production and mining oil and gas drilling likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases problematic native species/diseases - named species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - type unknown/unrecorded happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - type unknown/unrecorded happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Pollution garbage & solid waste happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads past (and unlikely to return) and no longer limiting some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Grassland   0 0 poor (40-69%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable
Wetlands (inland)   0 0 poor (40-69%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable

Balearica regulorum Grey Crowned-crane 4 10 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Bugeranus carunculatus Wattled Crane 8 6 breeding pairs 75 near favourable

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management planning has taken place  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  negligible 

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland)   -
Artificial - terrestrial   14%
Shrubland   70%
Forest   14%
Grassland   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry 1%
agriculture -
nature conservation and research 100%

References Begg (1989), Taylor (1994, 1995, 1997a,b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Franklin Vlei. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/07/2015

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