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Location South Africa, Western Cape
Central coordinates 18o 5.00' East  33o 9.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4ii, A4iii
Area 27,600 ha
Altitude 0 - 60m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa

Site description The West Coast National Park adjoins the town of Langebaan, c.100 km north of Cape Town. The park includes Langebaan Lagoon, a wetland of international importance, Postberg Nature Reserve, much of 16 Mile Beach, and the islands of Jutten (43 ha), Malgas (18 ha), Marcus (17 ha) and Schaapen (29 ha). Meeuw Island (7 ha), which still belongs to the South African National Defence Force (ZANDF), is also included in the IBA. The lagoon is a sheltered arm of Saldanha Bay; it is c.15 km long, 3 km wide, and up to 6 m deep.

Extensive areas of mudflat, sandflat and succulent saltmarsh (concentrated in the south) are exposed at low tide. The rich mud of the saltmarshes supports dense populations of molluscs and crustaceans. The localized freshwater input in the southern portion of the lagoon permits the growth of a diversity of palustrine wetland vegetation. There are large, tall Phragmites and Typha beds and extensive areas of mixed sedges and rushes dominated by species such as Juncus, Schoenoplectus, Scirpus and Cladium. Well-developed strandveld, comprising low bushes and succulents, dominates the terrestrial vegetation surrounding the lagoon. Many flowering annuals occur in spring and there are also elements of coastal sclerophyllous fynbos, especially in the east.

The large, triangular island of Jutten lies c.800 m from Jut Point at the southern entrance to Saldanha Bay, and rises to c.60 m. Sparse vegetation grows over numerous boulders strewn across the flat perimeter and sides of two small hills. Buildings and walls subdivide the island intricately. Large boulders are scattered across the largely unvegetated island of Malgas, which is circular and flat, lying across from Jutten at the northern entrance to Saldanha Bay. Marcus Island, which rises to just over 7 m, lies deep in Saldanha Bay about 1.2 km south of Hoedjies Point, and has been connected to the mainland since 1976 via a 2 km long causeway, which was built as part of the harbour development for the export of iron ore and the import of crude oil. Meeuw and Schaapen islands, which lie about 800 m from one another, are near the shore of Donkergat Bay and Langebaan town respectively.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Cape Francolin Francolinus capensis resident  1998    Least Concern 
African Penguin Spheniscus demersus resident  frequent [units unknown]  A1  Endangered 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  3,791-8,724 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Cape Gannet Morus capensis resident  20,200 breeding pairs  A1, A4ii  Vulnerable 
Cape Gannet Morus capensis winter  40,000-50,000 individuals  A1, A4ii  Vulnerable 
Cape Cormorant Phalacrocorax capensis resident  4,000-10,000 breeding pairs  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Cape Cormorant Phalacrocorax capensis winter  12,000-32,000 individuals  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Bank Cormorant Phalacrocorax neglectus resident  220-300 breeding pairs  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Bank Cormorant Phalacrocorax neglectus winter  500-600 individuals  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Crowned Cormorant Phalacrocorax coronatus resident  500-600 breeding pairs  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Crowned Cormorant Phalacrocorax coronatus winter  1,000-1,200 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Black Harrier Circus maurus resident  present [units unknown]  A1  Vulnerable 
African Oystercatcher Haematopus moquini resident  150-170 breeding pairs  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
African Oystercatcher Haematopus moquini winter  528-607 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta non-breeding  127-307 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola winter  3,643-8,228 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius winter  1,000-2,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
White-fronted Plover Charadrius marginatus winter  2,000-4,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres winter  1,963-4,587 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Red Knot Calidris canutus winter  2,504-6,219 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Sanderling Calidris alba winter  1,229-2,643 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea winter  17,940-25,347 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus breeding  500-3,347 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus winter  1,407-8,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
King Gull Larus hartlaubii breeding  2,000-3,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
King Gull Larus hartlaubii winter  5,000-7,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Crested Tern Sterna bergii breeding  50-4,070 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Crested Tern Sterna bergii winter  203-9,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Tern Sterna hirundo winter  1,299-9,658 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Cape Long-billed Lark Certhilauda curvirostris resident  1998    Least Concern 
Karoo Lark Certhilauda albescens resident  1998    Least Concern 
Cape Bulbul Pycnonotus capensis resident  1998    Least Concern 
Layard's Warbler Sylvia layardi resident  1998    Least Concern 
Sicklewing Chat Cercomela sinuata resident  1998    Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - seabirds resident  unknown  A4iii   
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Cape West Coast UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 378,240 protected area contains site 27,600  
Langebaan Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 6,000 protected area contained by site 6,000  
West Coast National Park 24,182 protected area contained by site 32,494  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Coastal lagoons; Salt marshes  -
Shrubland Shrubland - Cape (fynbos)  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
other -
nature conservation and research 100%

Other biodiversity A host of endangered and endemic plant species are found in the reserve. Among reptiles, the highly localized Bitis armata occurs around the town of Langebaan, while three endemic, highly localized and threatened lizards, the west coast endemic Scelotes gronovii (LR/nt), S. kasneri (VU) and Cordylus macropholis, occur on the xeric saltmarsh.

References Adams (1991), Boucher and Jarman (1977), Branch (1991), Broekhuysen et al. (1961), Brooke and Prins (1986), Cooper (1976, 1981), Cooper and Berruti (1989), Cooper and Brooke (1986), Cooper et al. (1976, 1983, 1984, 1990, 1992), Cowan (1995), Crawford and Dyer (1995), Crawford and Shelton (1978, 1981), Crawford et al. (1982a,b, 1983, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1995c), Frost et al. (1976), Furness and Cooper (1982), Jarvis (1971), Johnson (1994), Hockey (1983, 1984, 1985a,b, 1987a,b, 1995) Hockey and Hallinan (1981), la Cock et al. (1987), Morant et al. (1981), Pringle and Cooper (1975), Rand (1963), Randall et al. (1980), Robertson (1979), Shelton et al. (1982), Siegfried (1982), Summers (1977), Summers and Cooper (1977), Summers et al. (1977), Underhill (1986, 1987), Williams et al. (1990), Wilson et al. (1988).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: West Coast National Park and Saldanha Bay islands. Downloaded from on 16/04/2014

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