Located c.18 km due south of Underberg, the major feature of the site is the Ingwangwana river, which flows south-south-eastwards through the southern portion of Coleford Nature Reserve. The flood-plain is fairly flat and narrow, rising up gently from the south bank to a series of low hills, which overlook its major tributary, the Ndowana river. The terrestrial vegetation consists of sour grassveld, with a dense, fairly short sward. Five small wetlands lie alongside the river. These are often seasonally flooded, and lie in natural depressions such as old oxbows. The vegetation in these wetlands is predominately wet grassland with extensive stands of sedge Carex.
See Box for key species. Sarothrura ayresi has been seen at this site, and it holds enough potential for 6–8 birds, but it remains to be established whether the habitat is only suitable in some years. The vlei also holds Grus carunculatus. The surrounding rolling grassland holds Circus maurus, Grus paradisea and Neotis denhami. The small patches of forest in the gullies are home to Lioptilus nigricapillus, while the rocky outcrops support Saxicola bifasciata and Monticola explorator.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The area includes the Coleford Nature Reserve, which was established in 1948 and proclaimed in 1959 and is currently administered by the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service. The wetlands alongside the river were modified prior to reserve acquisition. Drainage ditches were cut, and water-levels lowered. In a pilot experiment in 1984, one of the vleis was ‘restored’ by blocking the ditch, with dramatic results. Grus carunculatus started nesting within a month, and Coleford was a well-known nest-site for this species until 1990. Since then there has been no nesting, and the species is not always present. The probable reason is disturbance. The nest-sites were close to a fisherman’s path, and grazing horses often harassed the cranes. It is likely that, if properly managed, the vleis would again support the species. The site has potentially excellent habitat for Sarothrura ayresi, but it is not yet known how regularly the bird occurs here.In a recent exercise aimed at streamlining the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service, and discarding assets that ran at a loss, Coleford was identified as being expendable. A final decision has not yet been made.