|Most recent IBA monitoring assessment|
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The site is located 19 km north of Howick. It is not the same entity as the Karkloof Forest, which is part of the KwaZulu-Natal mistbelt forest (IBA ZA053). The western part of the reserve consists mainly of evergreen forest, with some Natal mistbelt grassland. Trees of Podocarpus, Celtis, Combretum, Cryptocarya and Xymalos are characteristic of the mature forest. In the lower forest strata Halleria, Maytenus and Carissa are typical. Forest-edges and forest patches in early successional stages have shrubs of Leucosidea, Buddleja and Rhamnus. In places in the grassland, Protea forms sparse open woodland. The eastern part of the reserve is mostly vlei and wet grassland (highland sourveld). There are two major vleis, Melmoth (104 ha) and Nyumbhakazi (35 ha). These are mainly sedge meadows with Cyperus, Carex, Mariscus, Pycreus and Kyllinga.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The forest holds many important species, including small numbers of Poicephalus robustus robustus and Columba delegorguei. Guttera pucherani symonsi, an isolated and endemic subspecies, is found only here and in a couple of small forests nearby. Bird parties are frequent and typical forest birds include Ceratogymna bucinator, Apaloderma narina, Zoothera gurneyi, Lioptilus nigricapillus, Tauraco corythaix, Coracina caesia, Cossypha dichroa, Pogonocichla stellata, Phylloscopus ruficapilla, Trochocercus cyanomelas, Telophorus olivaceus, Estrilda melanotis and Serinus scotops. The quiet forest river streams hold Motacilla clara. Promerops gurneyi occurs where Protea woodland dominates the grassland. The surrounding grasslands hold Sarothrura affinis, breeding Grus paradisea and Neotis denhami. Gyps coprotheres are regular visitors. Grus carunculatus and Tyto capensis are resident in the vleis. Monticola explorator and Saxicola bifasciata inhabit rocky outcrops.
Non-bird biodiversity: Several rare trees are found in the forest including Ocotea bullata, Curtisia dentata and Scolopia flanaganii, with Alberta magna (LR/nt) on the margin. Near-endemic plants in the grassland include Geranium natalense and Dierama luteo-albidum. Mammals include the South African endemic Pelea capreolus. An exceptionally rare and localized butterfly, Orachrysops ariadne (VU), occurs just outside the reserve and may well be found within it.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Karkloof Nature Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 02/06/2020.