Sites - Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
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Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve
South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal
30o 14.00' East 30o 43.00' South
A1, A2, A3
120 - 680m
Year of IBA assessment
BirdLife South Africa
Summary This reserve is situated 21 km west of Port Shepstone. It holds a spectacular gorge with many steep, sheer cliffs. Between these plains, the Umzimkulwana River has cut a 500-m-deep gorge through the softer Table Mountain Sandstone down to the granite. The grassland and lightly wooded areas hold Grey Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum, Southern Ground-Hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri and Natal Spurfowl Pternistis natalensis.
Site description This reserve is situated 21 km west of Port Shepstone. It holds a spectacular gorge with many steep, sheer cliffs. Between the Oribi and Murchison Flats (plains that are north and south of the reserve respectively), the Umzimkulwana river has cut a 500-m-deep gorge through the soft sandstone down to the granite. The Umzimkulwana river is mature, with a bouldery substrate and short, shallow rapids with a few low waterfalls. Three artificial impoundments span the river within the reserve. Eight different vegetation-types have been distinguished in the reserve, the most extensive being forest and thicket. Shrubland, woodland, grassland and rocky communities occur to a lesser degree. Species-richness is high and the forests are dominated by trees such as Celtis, Chrysophyllum, Commiphora, Heywoodia, Margaritaria, Nuxia and Protorhus. Rocky outcrops are characterized by Tarchonanthus, Tricalysia, Cryptocarya and Loxostylis. The grassland is Ngongoni veld, and has a diversity of small flowering plants. In places there are stands of Protea.
Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The grassland and lightly wooded areas hold Balearica regulorum and Bucorvus cafer. The forest holds small numbers of Zoothera guttata (wintering), Tauraco corythaix, Campethera notata (at its northern and eastern extremity), Cossypha dichroa, Cercotrichas signata and Serinus scotops. The cliff just outside the boundary of the reserve holds a small breeding colony of Gyps coprotheres. These vultures visit the feeding station (restaurant) within the reserve whenever it is provisioned. The backwaters of the river hold Podica senegalensis.
Non-bird biodiversity: Botanically, the site is exceptionally rich in rare and localized species. Examples are Encephalartos ghellinckii, Leucospermum innovans, Podalyria burchellii, Acalypha wilmsii, Brachystelma tenellum, Huernia hystrix, Ceropegia rudatisii, Riocreuxia alexandrina and Plectranthus oribiensis.