Kouga - Baviaanskloof Complex

Country/territory: South Africa

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (1998)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 172,000 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 unfavourable medium
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
The Kouga–Baviaanskloof complex encompasses large areas of mountainous terrain in the western portion of the Eastern Cape. The Kouga and Baviaanskloof ranges are c.120 km long and run parallel to one another from Uniondale in the west to Patensie in the east. The Baviaanskloof valley, which separates the ranges, lies c.40 km due north of the coastline, and to the south the Langkloof and Tsitsikamma ranges separate these mountains from the coast. The larger and more extensive Kouga range contains many high peaks at its central and western extent, up to 1,757 m. The eastern edge of the range is less rugged, and consists of plateaus and rolling hills falling below 900 m. Relative to Kouga, the linear Baviaanskloof range is far narrower and much more uniform in shape, peaking at 1,625 m. The north-facing slopes drop steeply into the Great Karoo.

Three main rivers drain the area: the Baviaans and Kouga rivers flow eastwards into the Kouga Dam, and the Groot river flows through a spectacular gorge before joining the Gamtoos river, which runs to the coast. The mainly leached and acid soils support mesic mountain fynbos. Trees of Pappea, Schotia and Euclea are common. Patches of Afromontane forest occur in deep, secluded, mesic gorges and are dominated by trees of Cunonia, Halleria, Pterocelastrus, Rapanea and Podocarpus. Arid veld occurs on the xeric northern slopes, dominated by Aloe, Euphorbia and Crassula. Spekboomveld is found on the steepest slopes at lowest altitude and is dominated by Portulacaria and Putterlickia. On the plains of the Great Karoo, karroid scrub appears, dominated by Tetragonia, Pteronia, Euclea, Euphorbia, Crassula and Cotyledon.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The Kouga–Baviaanskloof complex and the surrounding plains hold a remarkable number of avian habitats, making it home to approximately 300 bird species. Within the low fynbos scrub, Sarothrura affinis is found and the western race (nana) of Turnix hottentotta is suspected. Nectarinia violacea is widespread in ericas, while Promerops cafer and Serinus leucopterus occur in the proteoid elements and tall scrub. Francolinus capensis, Pycnonotus capensis and Serinus totta are widespread within the fynbos, while Bradypterus victorini is found in moist seeps in the hilly areas. Geocolaptes olivaceus is common on most rocky slopes above 1,000 m, while Chaetops frenatus is inexplicably rare, with a few records from the western Baviaanskloof area. The isolated forest patches, particularly in the south, hold several forest endemics, including Campethera notata and Serinus scotops.

The Great Karoo plains and northern foothills of the complex hold Eupodotis vigorsii, Cercomela sinuata and Malcorus pectoralis. Serinus alario occurs occasionally, whenever there is seeding grass and water. The belts of riverine Acacia woodland hold Phragmacia substriata, Sylvia layardi and Parus afer. Onychognathus nabouroup occurs in rocky gorges and kloofs. Several small roosts of Falco naumanni occur; the birds disperse during the day to forage on the plains. Furthermore, the coastal grassland belt to the south holds Grus paradisea, Neotis denhami and Circus maurus.

Non-bird biodiversity: This area is thought to hold in excess of 2,000 plant species, and there are many endemic species of Ericaceae and Restionaceae in the southern Kouga–Baviaanskloof complex. Among herptiles, Goggia hewitti has most of its global range restricted to the Baviaanskloof mountains and the rare Lamprophis fuscus (LR/nt) has been recorded here, as has the highly localized Heleophryne regis and an as-yet-undescribed species of Bradypodion.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kouga - Baviaanskloof Complex. Downloaded from on 04/12/2020.