Chrissie Pans

Country/territory: South Africa

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4i, A4ii, A4iii (1998)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 62,500 ha

Protection status:

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

Site description
This site comprises a system of over 320 pans on private land c.30 km east of Breyten. The primary area of pans runs from Tevrede se Pan (26°13’S 30°11’E) in the north to Burgerspan (26°28’S 30°10’E) in the south, and from Goedeverwachtingpan (26°16’S 30°07’E) in the west to Lake Banagher (26°21’S 30°23’E) in the east. The Chrissie system comprises a remarkable variety of pans. Reed pans are mostly permanent, usually retaining water throughout the year. They have a diverse flora, characterized by Phragmites, which forms a dense extensive reedbed covering most of the pan basin. Sedge pans are semi-permanent, usually drying up during the winter and/or dry spells, when they are almost devoid of vegetation. Saline pans are characterized by their glaring white basins when dry and have extremely saline substrata and water. The basins of these pans usually lack vegetation.

There is considerable overlap in the common plants between the three pan-types. The pans, and their functioning, remain intact, despite existing in a matrix that consists almost exclusively of maize (80%), interspersed with small fragmented patches of natural grassland (20%).

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. The Chrissie Pans support very large numbers (from a southern African perspective) of flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber and P. minor). The system is probably also an important refuge for the small floating population of Grus carunculatus remaining in Mpumalanga. Other species present in large numbers include Balearica regulorum, Charadrius pallidus and Circus ranivorus. When inundated, these wetlands also support large numbers of waterbirds, with total numbers regularly exceeding 20,000 individuals. In addition to the aquatic birds, several dryland species use the extensive Phragmites beds in the reedpans for roosting, including Falco amurensis and Hirundo rustica, which roost at the pans in flocks numbering thousands. The surrounding grassland-maize matrix occasionally supports Geronticus calvus, Falco naumanni, Grus paradisea, Neotis denhami, Eupodotis senegalensis, Tyto capensis, Glareola nordmanni and Circus maurus.

Non-bird biodiversity: The plant Odontelytrum abyssinicum is a highly localized and threatened pan specialist.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Chrissie Pans. Downloaded from on 30/09/2020.