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Location Zimbabwe, Matabeleland South Province
Central coordinates 29o 34.00' East  20o 4.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4ii
Area 100,000 ha
Altitude 1,200 - 1,461m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife Zimbabwe

Site description Debshan Ranch (c.10,000 ha) is situated south of Shangani. It is primarily a cattle ranch, with up to 30,000 head, and therefore has vast areas of grassland. In recent years the ranch has also promoted wildlife utilization, namely sport-hunting of antelopes and leopard Panthera pardus. On one of its sections is a large granite inselberg called Wabai Hill (c.100 ha), which grades into a long ‘whaleback’ to the west. The Wabai is a beautiful and rather symmetrical dome, visible from far and wide on the surrounding plain, and has near-vertical slopes on three sides. The soils in the area are sandy, and there are many granite outcrops. Miombo woodland occurs in patches.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Wabai Hill is a daily roost-site for Gyps coprotheres. Up to 225 birds (in March 1983) have been counted on the south-east faces, but the usual number is 100–150. Most are immatures. Wabai is the only known site for this species in Zimbabwe, and is the most northerly site (just) for the species in southern Africa. Sometimes in the rainy season, Grus carunculatus (rarely), Falco naumanni and Circus macrourus use the grasslands. At least 50 species of raptor (including owls) have been sighted on the ranch, which is also a haven for Ardeotis kori. In siNdebele, Wabai means crow, i.e. Corvus albus, but Corvus albicollis actually lives on the hill.

Non-bird biodiversity: The ranch has the largest herd of Damaliscus lunatus (LR/cd) in the country.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres winter  100-225 individuals  A1, A4ii  Endangered 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Wabai Hill (Debshan ranch) Sanctuary 0 is identical to site 0  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   6%
Shrubland   76%
Forest   17%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
hunting -
nature conservation and research -

References Dale (1990), Edwards and Swanepoel (1992), Mundy and Steyn (1977), Mundy (1995).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Wabai Hill (Debshan Ranch). Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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