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Location South Africa, Western Cape
Central coordinates 18o 29.00' East  33o 50.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 527 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa

Site description This reserve lies between Tableview and Milnerton in the northern sector of the Greater Cape Town Metropolitan Area, 10–15 km north-east of the city centre. A range of natural and semi-natural habitats exists in this fluctuating wetland, which floods in winter and dries out in summer when the estuary mouth closes. These habitats include shallow marine waters, estuarine waters, sand/shingle shores, tidal mudflats, saltmarshes, coastal brackish saline lagoons, rivers, streams and creeks, permanent freshwater lakes and permanent and seasonal freshwater marshes and pools.

Five distinctive wetland plant communities occur: perennial wetland, reed-marsh, sedge-marsh, open pans and sedge pans. The perennial wetland is characterized by scant aquatic vegetation, dominated by Ruppia, Potamogeton and Enteromorpha. The reed-marsh is dominated by Phragmites, invaded in places by Typha. The sedge-marsh is dominated by Bolboschoenus and Juncus. The open pans are sparsely covered in macrophytes, consisting mainly of Limosella and Salicornia, and the sedge pans are dominated by Bolboschoenus in summer and Aponogeton and Spiloxene in winter. Zooplankton multiply rapidly after winter flooding and disappear in summer as the water dries up. In the estuary there is a range of salinities, resulting in a diverse community of zooplankton. The invertebrate fauna is a vital food source for birds and fish, the most abundant fish in the wetland being Liza richardsoni.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Cape Shoveler Anas smithii winter  337-506 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus winter  54 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
African Oystercatcher Haematopus moquini winter  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta non-breeding  263-669 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus winter  665 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
King Gull Larus hartlaubii breeding  150-375 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
King Gull Larus hartlaubii winter  543-1,102 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Rietvlei Wetland Reserve Nature Reserve 527 is identical to site 527  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Coastal lagoons; Freshwater lakes and pools; Rivers & streams  -
Sea Shallow marine waters  -
Grassland   100%
Shrubland Shrubland - Cape (fynbos)  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%
tourism/recreation -
nature conservation and research 94%
tourism/recreation -

Other biodiversity Urban development and encroachment by non-native plants threaten the herptiles Cacosternum capense (LR/nt), Hyperolius horstockii, Bradypodion pumilum (CR) and B. occidentale, which all live on the wetland fringes.

References Allan (1993b, 1995c, 1996a), Allan et al. (1996b), Branch (1988), Cooper et al. (1976), CSIR (1994), Grindley and Dudley (1988), Kalejta and Allan (1993), Kalejta-Summers et al. (in press a), Rowlands (1983), Ryan et al. (1988), Scott (1954), Summers et al. (1976, 1977), Turpie (1995), Underhill and Cooper (1984), Winterbottom (1960, 1968b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Rietvlei Wetland Reserve. Downloaded from on 11/07/2014

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