Outeniqua mountains

Country/territory: South Africa

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

Area: 180,000 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 not assessed medium
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
The Outeniquas rise from the coastal plain north of Mossel Bay and run c.100 km to the east before dropping into the Keurbooms river valley, which enters the ocean at Plettenberg Bay. They run parallel to the Swartberg (IBA ZA085). The southern slopes are gentle, and rise to form a series of peaks; the steep northern slopes drop sharply into the Little Karoo, which forms a broad low-lying valley north of the Outeniquas. The stark variation in altitude and conditions yields a wide diversity of habitats, resulting in a distinct contrast between the moist high-altitude montane fynbos, the karroid and renosterveld shrubland on the northern slopes, where low rainfall promotes non-fynbos scrub, and Afromontane forest on the mesic south-facing slopes.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The IBA is extremely rich in birds of fynbos, forest and the arid zone. At high altitudes, the fynbos holds Nectarinia violacea and Serinus totta. Promerops cafer and Serinus leucopterus breed and forage in the larger Protea stands. Low, dense resteoid thicket holds Sarothrura affinis and may hold Turnix hottentotta nana. Bradypterus victorini is locally common in the seeps and neighbouring mesic fynbos, and Chaetops frenatus and Geocolaptes olivaceus occur on exposed rocky slopes, primarily above 1,000 m. The lowland karroid plains north of the range are particularly good for Eupodotis vigorsii, Cercomela schlegelii and Malcorus pectoralis. Circus maurus and Falco naumanni are occasionally seen quartering the plains. Serinus alario occurs whenever seeding grass and water abound. The isolated forest patches on the southern slopes of the Outeniquas hold several forest endemics including Tauraco corythaix, Campethera notata, Telophorus olivaceus, Cossypha dichroa, Bradypterus sylvaticus and Serinus scotops. Other forest species include Apaloderma narina and Stephanoaetus coronatus.

Non-bird biodiversity: This area is thought to hold over 2,000 plant species, many of which are endemic and threatened. Barbus tenuis (EN) is restricted to the tributaries of the Keurbooms and Gourits rivers; the former forms the northern boundary of this IBA and may hold small populations of this threatened and highly localized fish species.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Outeniqua mountains. Downloaded from on 17/01/2021.