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Location South Africa, Western Cape
Central coordinates 22o 35.00' East  32o 15.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4ii
Area 32,795 ha
Altitude 1,032 - 1,932m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa

Site description The semi-arid Karoo National Park is situated in the central Great Karoo, just north of Beaufort West. The IBA incorporates the park, the town of Beaufort West and its sewage works. The dominant topographical feature is the impressive Nuweveld escarpment, which towers over the lower plains. Riverbeds, which are dry for most of the year, descend sharply from the escarpment to meander across the flat plains in the far west and east of the park.

The stark variation in altitude yields a wide diversity of microhabitats, resulting in a distinct contrast between the harsher vegetation of the upper plateau, where grassveld intruded by fynbos elements is dominant, and the lower plain where dwarf scrub dominates and thornveld occurs in the moister valleys and watercourses. The scrub vegetation, which covers much of the plains and lower escarpment, is dominated by Nama Karoo shrubs seldom exceeding 70 cm in height. The vegetation becomes non-succulent as the altitude increases, with thicket of Dodonaea and Rhus occurring at height. Grasses begin to dominate on the Nuweveld Plateau. Belts of riverine Acacia thicket line the mostly dry riverbeds, creating a network of tree-lines that stretch throughout the park’s plains.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni winter  1,000-3,000 individuals  A1, A4ii  Least Concern 
Ludwig's Bustard Neotis ludwigii resident  1998  present  A3  Endangered 
Karoo Bustard Heterotetrax vigorsii resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus resident  present  A1  Least Concern 
Karoo Long-billed Lark Certhilauda subcoronata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Karoo Lark Certhilauda albescens resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sclater's Lark Spizocorys sclateri resident  1998  present  A3  Near Threatened 
Black-eared Sparrow-lark Eremopterix australis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Namaqua Warbler Phragmacia substriata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kopje Warbler Euryptila subcinnamomea resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-rumped Eremomela Eremomela gregalis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Layard's Warbler Sylvia layardi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pale-winged Starling Onychognathus nabouroup resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sicklewing Chat Cercomela sinuata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Karoo Chat Cercomela schlegelii resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Tractrac Chat Cercomela tractrac resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-headed Canary Serinus alario resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Camdeboo National Park 14,745 protected area contained by site 16,500  
Karoo National Park 76,788 protected area contained by site 43,261  

Local conservation groups The local conservation group below is working to support conservation at this IBA.

Name Year formed
Karoo National Park Honorary Officers 0


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Shrubland - Cape (fynbos); Shrubland - dwarf Karroo  -

Land use

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

Other biodiversity Among reptiles, Goggia braacki and Pachydactylus kladeroderma both have global ranges restricted to the eastern portion of the Nuweveld escarpment, and they may occur within the park. Cordylus cloetei, another Nuweveld-escarpment endemic, occurs at nearby Fraserberg and should be searched for in the park. It is conservation policy to restock the park with mammalian game species that roamed these plains prior to human intervention, and the threatened Diceros bicornis (CR), Equus zebra (VU; the second largest population in the world) and Bunolagus monticularis (EN) have been reintroduced.

References Allan (1989, 1994b), Claassen and Claassen (1991), Davies (1994), de Graaf et al. (1979), Martin and Martin (1970), Martin et al. (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988), Pepler (1994a,b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Karoo National Park. Downloaded from on 29/07/2014

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