Kamfers Dam is located 2 km north of Kimberley at the junction of three biomes; the Karoo, Kalahari and Grasslands. The dam is actually a non-perennial, closed-basin pan in a semi-arid environment, receiving water from three primary sources; its 160 km² catchment, 14 megalitres of treated sewage effluent from Kimberley per day, and half of the town’s stormwater. During 5- to 10-year dry cycles, the pan dries out between October and December, and fills between February and March. There is always permanent water at the south-western end of the pan, owing to the continuous inflow of sewage effluent, and this has resulted in the establishment of extensive beds of Phragmites, Typha, Scirpus, Juncus and Cyperus marsh, sedge- and reedbeds.The Kalahari thornveld surrounding the pan is dominated by Acacia. Panveld grows on the water’s edge and lower slopes, and is characterized by plants that grow on heavy/brackish/saline soils. Unfortunately, invasive non-native plants (such as Tagetes, Agave, Argemone, Prosopis and Salsola) cover areas adjacent to the pan.
See Box for key species. Probably due to the nutrient-rich sewage input, this pan is highly productive and supports large numbers of birds. It regularly holds 4,000–10,000 individuals of resident, migratory and nomadic waterbird, and up to 20,000 have been recorded during periods of drought, when the site provides a reliable refuge while many of the surrounding ephemeral water-bodies dry out. The threatened Circus ranivorus and Charadrius pallidus occur at Kamfers Dam, which also occasionally holds large numbers of Alopochen aegyptiacus, Podiceps nigricollis and Tadorna cana. During winter, when Palearctic migrants are absent, the site supports substantially fewer birds.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The major part (95%) of the fringe of Kamfers Dam is privately owned; a small portion of land (5%), in the south-western corner, belongs to the Kimberley Municipality. An unofficial bird sanctuary has been established here and the pan has been registered as a Natural Heritage Site. It is proposed that funds be raised to purchase more land surrounding the pan and to afford the area legal protection at a provincial level as a first priority. The pan’s catchment is used for large stock-farming and to provide the city of Kimberley and its surrounding townships with drinking water. The pumping of treated sewage effluent into the pan has contributed to major changes in water-levels within the wetland, and the pan now seldom dries out, as it used to do under natural conditions. In recent years the pan has not supported as many waterbirds as in the 1970s, when as many as 6,000 Alopochen aegyptiaca, 1,000 Plectopterus gambensis and 500 Tadorna cana were recorded. The reason for the dramatic decline is uncertain, but it has been attributed to the conflict between waterbirds and farmers in the adjacent grain-producing areas, where many birds are being shot or poisoned.The low purity and high quantity of the treated sewage that is discharged into the pan, and the high pollutant levels in the stormwater run-off from Kimberley, are also both threats to the integrity of the pan system. The surrounding Acacia savanna is threatened by overgrazing and trampling by cattle and game, and the natural vegetation is threatened through infestation by invasive non-native plant species. Only recently has the pan’s potential as an environmental education and tourism destination been appreciated. As a result, the economic feasibility of constructing environmental education facilities, interpretative centres, trails and bird-hides is being investigated by the Northern Cape Region of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa. Designation as a Ramsar Site has been proposed.
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kamfers Dam. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 19/08/2019.