Country/territory: South Africa

IBA criteria met: -
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 132,886 ha

BirdLife South Africa
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) Threat (pressure) Condition (state) Action (response)
2016 high not assessed high
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (baseline)
This IBA links the Mkuze section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park with the Pongola Nature Reserve. The Pongola Nature Reserve forms the north-eastern boundary of the. The IBA continues southwards with Somkhanda Game Reserve, the Zululand Rhino Reserve and Thanda Game Reserve bounded to the east by the N2. At the southern end the IBA makes a dog leg to the East and includes the Phinda Game Reserve which is bounded by the Mkuze Nature Reserve to the north.

Key biodiversity

The IBA supports a critical component of savannah nesting vulture species, especially White-backed Vulture (Critical Endangered), which in KZN are confined to Zululand. Fifty-three vulture nest sites were recorded in the past on private land within the IBA through the aerial surveys done annually by Ezemvelo KZN. This constitutes 60% of the breeding population outside of Hluhluwe but approximately 10% of the total population in Zululand. In addition, many of these private landowners manage vulture feeding areas which from time to time will host the bulk of the Zululand population. 

The IBA also hosts East Coast Endemics such as Rudd's Apalis Apalis ruddi, Pink-throated Twinspot Hypargos margaritatus, Lemon-breasted Canary Serinus citrinipectus and Neergaard's Sunbird Cinnyris neergaardi. 

An interesting aspect of the IBA is that the northern areas of the IBA support a number of species at the southernmost limit of their range such as Bennett's Woodpecker Campethera bennettii, Burchell's Starling Lamprotornis australis, Red-billed Buffalo Weaver Bubalornis niger, Magpie Shrike Urolestes melanoleucus, Pearl-spotted Owlet Glaucidium perlatum, Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes rubriceps, Brown-headed Parrot Poicephalus cryptoxanthus, Grey Tockus nasutus and Red-billed Hornbills Tockus rufirostris, Levaillant's Cuckoo Clamator levaillantii and Purple Roller Coracias naevius. 

The following Globally threatened species also occur within the IBA. Martial Eagle Polemaetus bellicosus, Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus, Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus and Southern Ground-Hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri.
Regionally threatened species include Half-collared Kingfisher Alcedo semitorquata, Neergaard’s Sunbird, Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus, African Broadbill Smithornis capensis and Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus.
Range-restricted and biome-restricted species include Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyana, Chorister Robin-Chat Cossypha dichroa, Rudd’s Apalis, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike Telophorus viridis, White-bellied Sunbird Cinnyris talatala, Pink-throated Twinspot and Lemon-breasted Canary. 

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Zululand. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/site/factsheet/45586 on 07/06/2023.