Central Kalahari (Kgalagadi) and Khutse Game Reserves

Country/territory: Botswana

IBA Criteria met: A3 (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 5,539,000 ha

BirdLife Botswana
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2012 low favourable high
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
The site comprises the large Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) and adjoining Khutse Game Reserve, lying between 21°00’S and 23°20’S and between 22°45’E and 25°20’E. Situated in central Botswana, it is part of the Kalahari Basin, the world’s largest continuous stretch of sand, stretching from the Orange river up to Zaire. The CKGR is bordered to the north by the Kuke veterinary cordon fence and to the south by the Khutse Game Reserve which was established in 1971 to protect its series of pans, dry river valleys and dependent game. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is presently inhabited by traditional hunter-gatherers belonging to the San and Bakgalakgadi tribes (Remote-Area Dwellers), but people are absent from Khutse.Although there are large open grasslands, the Game Reserves are both largely covered with semi-arid shrub savanna and scrub. There are small patches or strips of Acacia woodland, and larger areas of Terminalia sandveld. Other common trees and shrubs include Ochna, Boscia, Lonchocarpus, Bauhinia, Dichrostachys, Grewia, Commiphora, Sesamothamnus, Catophractes and Rhizogum. Fossil riverbeds, as in Deception and Okwa valleys and in the Khutse Game Reserve, mark the positions of rivers which once drained into the ancient Lake Makgadikgadi. Pans, shallow depressions periodically containing water, are widespread. The floors of the pans are bare or covered with short grass and herbs, but may occasionally develop into wetlands after heavy rain. Herbs, notably annuals, are abundant over the sand in the rains. Hunting of birds and mammals and the gathering of plant and other animal material by Remote-Area Dwellers occurs in the CKGR. Exploration for diamonds and drilling for minerals also take place within this reserve in addition to wildlife tourism, which has only recently been encouraged there. Khutse Game Reserve is accessible from Gaborone in under four hours and receives more visitors.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 2 for key species. The Central Kalahari and Khutse Game Reserves support a bird community typical of the Kalahari–Highveld biome, and the large size of the reserves means that they contain significant populations of many of the characteristic species. In addition, the reserves hold good numbers of visiting Falco naumanni, Circus macrourus, Circus pygargus and Glareola nordmanni, as well as resident grassland species such as Struthio camelus and Ardeotis kori and regionally threatened or near-threatened birds of prey. Large numbers of Lanius minor winter in this site.

Non-bird biodiversity: Populations of the larger, migratory ungulates are all suffering marked declines. There is concern too for the large predators, Panthera leo (VU) and Acinonyx jubatus (VU) and Hyaena brunnea (LR/nt).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Central Kalahari (Kgalagadi) and Khutse Game Reserves. Downloaded from on 23/03/2023.