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Location South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal
Central coordinates 30o 10.00' East  31o 0.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4ii
Area 3,257 ha
Altitude 0 - 447m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa

Site description Located 5 km west of Port Edward, Umtamvuna Nature Reserve occupies the eastern side of a steep gorge on the Umtamvuna river. The river gorge meanders through the reserve for 25 km before it enters the Indian Ocean, 2 km beyond the reserve boundary. Many precipitous side-streams join the river within the reserve. The river is flanked by evergreen forests, overtopped with up to 240 m of often sheer cliffs of Pondoland sandstone. Above the cliffs, on either side, are gently undulating sandy grassy plains, with scattered and little eroded rocky outcrops. There are many seepages and small vleis.The vegetation is Pondoland coastal plateau sourveld, and consists of forest and grassland, each vegetation-type occupying c.1,500 ha. The forest boasts over 330 woody species. It has typical coastal elements, together with species usually associated with the mistbelt, but many of the dominant trees are near-endemics. Common canopy trees include Celtis, Harpephyllum, Ficus, Pseudoscolopia, Cassipourea, Rhus, Oricia, Vepris and Cryptocarya. Cliff-edges and fire-protected rocky outcrops have dense clumps of Schefflera, Brachylaena, Cassine, Protorhus, Diospyros, Cryptocarya and Rhus. The grassland is also exceptionally diverse and only a third of its species are grasses, the remainder being sedges and forbs.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres resident  40-48 breeding pairs  A1, A4ii  Vulnerable 
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres winter  100-150 individuals  A4ii  Vulnerable 
Black Harrier Circus maurus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Knysna Turaco Tauraco corythaix resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Knysna Woodpecker Campethera notata resident  1998  present  A1, A2  Near Threatened 
Olive Bush-shrike Telophorus olivaceus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey Cuckooshrike Coracina caesia resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
African Scrub-warbler Bradypterus barratti resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-throated Woodland-warbler Phylloscopus ruficapilla resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Spotted Ground-thrush Zoothera guttata winter  present  A1  Endangered 
White-starred Robin Pogonocichla stellata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chorister Robin-chat Cossypha dichroa resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Brown Scrub-robin Erythropygia signata resident  1998  present  A2  Least Concern 
Gurney's Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Swee Waxbill Estrilda melanotis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Forest Canary Serinus scotops resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Umtamvuna Provincial Nature Reserve 2,559 protected area contains site 3,257  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland   -
Artificial - terrestrial   15%
Forest   84%

Land use

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

Other biodiversity Umtamvuna is an ancient centre of botanical endemism, and is the finest remaining example of the highly diverse Pondoland sandstone flora. Some of the plants are extremely rare and localized. Raspalia trigyna, for example, was at one time thought to be represented by only a single individual plant. This was killed in an accidental fire. Subsequently, the species has been reintroduced, using cuttings from a second plant recently discovered in the former Transkei. The forest is the only, or principal, home of a host of rare trees. Examples are Catha abbottii, Ochna chilversii, Colubrina nicholsonii (EN), Manilkara nicholsonii (EN), Pseudosalacia streyi (VU), Eugenia umtamvunensis (VU), E. verdoorniae (LR/nt), at least three other species of Eugenia awaiting description, Dahlgrenodendron natalensis (EN), Syzygium pondoense (VU), Indigofera braamtonyi, Maytenus abbottii (VU) and M. bachmannii.

Rare grassland plants include Rhus pondoensis, Leucadendron spissifolium, Encephalartos laevifolius, Raspalia trigyna, Podalyria velutina, Psoralea abbottii, Phyllanthus arvensis, Anisodontea scabrosa, Erica abbottii, Brachystelma australe, Selago peduncularis and Helichrysum diffusum. Rock outcrops bear Anthospermum streyi, Apodytes abbottii, Craterostigma nanum, Canthium suberosum and C. vanwykii. The chameleon Bradypodion caffrum, a Pondoland coastal plateau endemic, is present, as are the butterflies Charaxes pondoensis and Durbania amakosa albescens.

References Piper (1985, 1994).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Umtamvuna Nature Reserve. Downloaded from on 23/07/2014

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