Anysberg Nature Reserve

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
Located 20 km south of Matjiesfontein and 20 km south-west of Laingsburg, the Anysberg Nature Reserve is situated on the poorly known western fringe of the Little Karoo in a broad fynbos–Karoo transition zone. The reserve is one of the largest in the Western Cape and it lies in part of the Anysberg Mountain Catchment Area, which drains into the Gourits river system. The topography is mainly mountainous, interspersed with wide open valleys. The southern and northern boundaries of the reserve are formed by the Anysberg (1,622 m) and Suurkloofse Berg (1,512 m) ranges respectively. A third, drier mountain range, Matjiesgoedberg, dominates the central sector of the reserve.

Two major vegetation-types are present: Karoo scrub and bush on the plains and lower slopes, and montane fynbos at higher elevations. The great altitudinal variation yields a wide diversity of microhabitats. The scrub vegetation of the plains and lower escarpment consists chiefly of shrubs smaller than 70 cm in height. Members of the Mesembryanthemaceae, which can be very local in their distribution, dominate the vegetation. Belts of Acacia-dominated vegetation line the mostly dry riverbeds. Low stony ridges hold transitional vegetation, with Rhigozum dominating. As the vegetation stretches up the mountains, fynbos elements appear, and there are extensive stands of Protea woodland in the wetter areas.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. A total of 164 bird species have been recorded in the reserve. The lowland karroid plains are particularly good for Neotis ludwigii, Eupodotis vigorsii, Certhilauda albescens, Cercomela schlegelii, Eremomela gregalis and Malcorus pectoralis. Circus maurus are sometimes seen quartering the plains where Grus paradisea occasionally occur. Serinus alario occurs whenever there is seeding grass and water. The belts of riverine Acacia woodland support Phragmacia substriata and provide food, shelter and breeding habitat for many species, while the thicket and scrub on the slopes supports Sylvia layardi and Parus afer. Onychognathus nabouroup and Geocolaptes olivaceus occur in the rocky gorges and kloofs. At higher altitudes, fynbos holds Nectarinia violacea and Serinus totta. Promerops cafer is associated with the Protea bushes. Bradypterus victorini occurs locally in the seeps and adjacent mesic scrub while Chaetops frenatus are found on exposed rocky slopes at high altitudes. Occasionally Falco naumanni are seen foraging over the reserve.

Non-bird biodiversity: Among reptiles, this is one of the very few places holding the highly range-restricted Bitis rubida, Scelotes caffer, Bradypodion gutturale and Goggia hewitti.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The land for this reserve was purchased by WWF-South Africa (formerly the Southern African Nature Foundation) and proclaimed in 1988, and is controlled by Cape Nature Conservation. Threats include overgrazing of the surrounding farmland resulting in degradation of habitat outside the reserve, which potentially reduces populations of sensitive wide-ranging species such as Neotis ludwigii. Several pesticides and poisons are used in the farming areas surrounding the reserve. The effect that they are having on bustards, cranes, raptors and other tertiary consumers in the region is unknown.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Anysberg Nature Reserve. Downloaded from on 26/06/2022.