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Location South Africa, Eastern Cape
Central coordinates 29o 59.00' East  31o 16.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4ii
Area 8,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 300m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa

Site description The Mkambati Nature Reserve is situated on the coast of north-east Pondoland in the Eastern Cape. It is bounded by the Mtenu river in the north and the Mzikaba river in the south; in the east, between the two river mouths, it holds a 13 km stretch of pristine coastline. The reserve stretches inland c.5 km along the Mzikaba river and c.9.5 km along the Mtenu river. The gentle topography is interrupted by two steps (ancient shorelines) parallel to the coast, the first at 85 m elevation and the second at 190 m. The Mtenu river reaches the ocean through a long, incised and meandering gorge. Table Mountain sandstone cliffs flank the river, rising 300 m from the riverbed to meet the surrounding plains. The Mtenu river forms a spectacular waterfall c.9 km upstream of the coast. The waterfall has cut an almost straight cliff-face some 500 m wide. The cliffs are for the most part sheer, beginning at the coast and continuing inland for about 10–20 km.The vegetation is primarily Pondoland coastal plateau sourveld grassland, on poor but well-drained soils. The grasses are low in nutrient content and are of little agricultural value to commercial or subsistence farmers. Surprisingly large numbers of fynbos species also occur, in unburned grasslands or on rock outcrops where they are protected from regular fires. Small forest patches exist in the river gorges and on the coastal sand-dunes.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres resident  40-70 breeding pairs  A1, A4ii  Vulnerable 
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres winter  85-140 individuals  A4ii  Vulnerable 
Knysna Turaco Tauraco corythaix resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Knysna Woodpecker Campethera notata resident  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Olive Bush-shrike Telophorus olivaceus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey Cuckooshrike Coracina caesia resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-throated Woodland-warbler Phylloscopus ruficapilla resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Spotted Ground-thrush Zoothera guttata unknown  present  A1  Endangered 
White-starred Robin Pogonocichla stellata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chorister Robin-chat Cossypha dichroa resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Buff-streaked Chat Oenanthe bifasciata resident  1998  present  A1, A3  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)  
Mkambathi Nature Reserve 8,000 is identical to site 8,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland   -
Artificial - terrestrial   71%
Forest   28%
Coastline Sand dunes & beaches; Sea cliffs & rocky shores  major

Land use

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

Other biodiversity The area is particularly rich in highly localized endemic frogs—Afrixalus knysnae, Arthroleptella hewitti and Arthroleptis wahlbergi all occur along this coastal region and possibly occur within the reserve. There are c.1,600 reintroduced wild ungulates in the reserve, including the nationally endemic Damaliscus dorcas phillipsi.

References Piper and Ruddle (1986), Shackleton (1990), Shackleton et al. (1991).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mkambati Nature Reserve. Downloaded from on 28/07/2014

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