Mattheus-Gat Conservation Area

Country/territory: South Africa

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

Area: 52,000 ha

Protection status:

BirdLife South Africa
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2014 high very unfavourable negligible
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
Situated due east of Pofadder, this site consists of four farms: Mattheus-Gat (18,000 ha), Gemsbokvlakte (10,000 ha), Pofadder East (14,000 ha) and Konkoonsies (10,000 ha). Mattheus-Gat forms the central portion of the site and, in the south of the property, holds the granitic Mattheus-Gat mountains which rise some 300 m above the surrounding plains and which provide habitat for both mountainous and mountain-slope bird species. Away from the mountains, there are sandy plains to the north, comprising perennial desert grasslands that change into a red-dune system that runs from north-west to south-east (the fossil Koa river valley).

The vegetation consists of grasses and shrubs scattered between bare sand patches. The koppies hold shrubs of Adenolobus and Rhus, especially on the mid-slopes and peaks, while the cobble-strewn bases are covered by melkboom Euphorbia in places. The gravel-plains are covered with a sparse dwarf shrubland, including species of Rhigozum, Pteronia, Tetragonia, Tarchonanthus, Ceraria, Lycium and Boscia on sandy patches. There are a few sparsely vegetated drainage lines that run from south to north. The drainage lines support taller woody vegetation and occasionally hold large Acacia trees, which provide good nesting habitat for larger bird species.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. This is one of few sites to hold both the globally threatened Certhilauda burra (200–300 pairs), which inhabits the red sand-dunes, and the near-threatened Spizocorys sclateri (up to 500 birds), which occurs occasionally on the barren stony plains. The site holds most of the species restricted to the Namib–Karoo biome, as well as a host of other arid-zone birds. The rocky outcrops of the Mattheus-Gat mountains are home to Geocolaptes olivaceus, Euryptila subcinnamomea and Onychognathus nabouroup. The plains hold Circus maurus, Polemaetus bellicosus, Ardeotis kori, Neotis ludwigii, Eupodotis vigorsii, Cursorius rufus, Pterocles namaqua, Eremalauda starki, Cercomela tractrac, C. sinuata, C. schlegelii , Eremomela gregalis and Malcorus pectoralis. During good rains, the nomadic Eremopterix australis, E. verticalis, Serinus alario and Emberiza impetuani can be superabundant. Low, scrubby vegetation holds Parus afer, Anthoscopus minutus, Sylvia layardi, Batis pririt, Stenostira scita, Nectarinia fusca, Sporopipes squamifrons and Serinus albogularis. The large trees occasionally hold the communal nests of Philetairus socius with Polihierax semitorquatus frequently in attendance. The newly recognized Certhilauda subcoronata also occurs in this region.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mattheus-Gat Conservation Area. Downloaded from on 16/01/2021.