Sites - Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
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South Africa, Western Cape
18o 22.00' East 33o 49.00' South
A1, A4i, A4ii, A4iii
0 - 30m
Year of IBA assessment
BirdLife South Africa
Summary Robben Island is South Africa's largest coastal island and lies 11 km from Table Bay harbour in Cape Town. This oval 5 x 2 km island rises 30 m above sea level at its highest point. The island contains African Penguins Spheniscus demersus and large numbers of breeding Bank Cormorant Phalacrocorax neglectus.
Site description Robben Island, South Africa’s largest coastal island (5 × 2 km), lies 11 km from Table Bay harbour in Cape Town and 7 km from Bloubergstrand (its closest point to the mainland). The island was one of the first areas in South Africa to be colonized by European settlers, and has been extensively altered through a long history of human inhabitation, exploitation and use. The terrestrial vegetation is dominated by non-native Acacia and Myoporum and plantations of Pinus and Eucalyptus, dense stands of which cover large tracts inland.
Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Spheniscus demersus recolonized Robben Island in 1983 after an absence of about 180 years. Numbers of penguins have increased from nine pairs in 1983 to 2,000 pairs in 1992 and to over 4,000 pairs in 1996. It is thought that birds may be relocating here from Dyer Island (IBA ZA099), where the population has decreased markedly since the mid-1980s. The breeding area was only a few square metres in 1983, but had extended to over 55 ha by 1996. The main nesting areas are under the shade of trees or bushes along the north-east sector of the island. Recently, one pair of penguins was found breeding in the south. The island also holds the largest numbers of breeding Phalacrocorax neglectus in the Western Cape and significant populations of P. coronatus, Haematopus moquini, Larus hartlaubii and Sterna bergii.
Non-bird biodiversity: Among reptiles, Bradypodion pumilum (CR) and the west-coast endemic Scelotes gronovii (LR/nt) occur on the island.
References Adams (1991), Branch (1991), Brooke and Prins (1986), Cooper (1981), Cooper and Berruti (1989), Cooper and Brooke (1986), Cooper et al. (1983, 1984), Crawford (1995), Crawford and Dyer (1995), Crawford and Shelton (1978, 1981), Crawford et al. (1982a,b, 1983, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1995a,c), Frost et al. (1976), Furness and Cooper (1982), Hockey (1983), Hockey and Hallinan (1981), Kriel et al. (1980), Little (1995), Morant et al. (1981), Randall et al. (1980), Shelton et al. (1982), Siegfried (1982), Summers and Cooper (1977);Williams et al. (1990), Wilson et al. (1988)
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BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Robben Island. Downloaded from
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