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Location Zimbabwe, Masvingo Province,Midlands Province
Central coordinates 30o 47.00' East  19o 23.00' South
IBA criteria A1
Area 20,000 ha
Altitude 1,500 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife Zimbabwe

Site description The site is an isolated patch of Kalahari Sands on the watershed, a little to the east of the geographical centre of Zimbabwe. Within it lies the Driefontein Mission with the two Driefontein dams, and close by to the east is the commercial farming community of Felixburg. The vistas are flat and seemingly endless. Most of the landscape is under natural highveld grassland, dominated by the thatching grass Hyparrhenia which can grow to a height of 3 m. Soaks, seeps, and depressions collect water and form many dambos/vleis in the area, due to the flat terrain. There are a few streams, such as the Nyororo and Shashe, and scattered patches of miombo woodland. Due to the general sufficiency of rainfall, there are areas of rain-fed maize agriculture in summer and irrigated wheat in the austral winter. Temperatures are very equable, and frosts in winter are common. The area is largely divided into commercial ranches which specialize in cattle. There are several mines around Felixburg itself, and Driefontein Mission has a church, a hospital and school, and agricultural crops.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. The area supports a large number of Grus carunculatus. In October 1989, a roost of 87 birds was present at one of the Driefontein dams, the largest flock seen in the country in recent decades. More recent winter surveys of the District have located 25 pairs and a flock of ‘floaters’ (1996), after a good 1995/96 rainy season. Up to 40 pairs have been located in the larger area of the central watershed, Chivhu–Mvuma–Felixburg, which includes this site. Generally the cranes form pairs when the conditions are marshy, and flock together during times of drought. They may then glean in old maize and wheat lands.

The grassland and cattle-ranching environment is benign for raptors, and more than 30 species (excluding owls) have been recorded, including occasional sightings of Gyps coprotheres, Circus macrourus and Falco naumanni. Due to the extent of dambos, culminating in the large Widgeon Pan on the eastern edge of the area (19°23’S 30°56’E), there is a good likelihood of Crex crex and Gallinago media (and even, perhaps, Sarothrura ayresi). Chlidonias hybridus was recorded breeding there in 1993.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus resident  1996  25 breeding pairs  A1  Vulnerable 

IBA Monitoring

2014 not assessed not assessed negligible
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management planning has taken place  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  negligible 

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

Name Year formed
Daviot Site Support Group 2004
Shashe Site Support Group 2004


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   17%
Shrubland   68%
Forest   13%
Grassland Grassland - edaphic, dry; Grassland - edaphic, wet  major
Wetlands (inland) Artificial wetlands; Ephemeral pools and wetlands; Rivers & streams  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
water management -
other -
Notes: Collection of thatching grass.

References Couto and Couto (2000), Francis (1990), Masterson and Parkes (1994), Mundy et al. (1984).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Driefontein grasslands. Downloaded from on 31/08/2015

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