Platberg-Karoo Conservancy

Country/territory: South Africa

IBA Criteria met: A1, A3, A4i, A4ii (1998)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 1,200,000 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
The conservancy covers the entire districts of De Aar, Philipstown and Hanover in the south-eastern portion of the Northern Cape Province. Although the land in the IBA is primarily used for grazing and agriculture, it includes the suburban towns of De Aar, Philipstown, Petrusville and Hanover. This huge area lies in the plains of the central Great Karoo, forming part of the South African plateau. The conservancy consists primarily of open-plain country, locally interrupted by dolerite hills and small mountain ranges which rise 200–300 m above the surrounding plateau, which varies from 1,100–1,400 m in altitude.

Just north of De Aar, the ephemeral Brak river flows in an arc from south-east to north-west, eventually feeding into the Orange river basin. Several other ephemeral rivers occur in the IBA, including the Hondeblaf, Seekoei and Elandsfontein, which all have rocky beds with intermittent wide flood-plains that contribute to the Orange river catchment. Kriegerspoort Dam in the south and the Vanderkloof (formerly P. K. le Roux) Dam in the north-east form permanent water features in the area.

The vegetation that covers much of the plains and lower escarpment is dominated by shrubs, which seldom exceed 70 cm in height. The numerous kloofs are sparsely wooded and the hills and mountains are more grassy than the plains. During rainy periods, however, many patches of grass sprout on the rocky mountain slopes. The characteristic shrubs of the hills are species of Rhus. There are extensive sectors of dense thornveld dominated by Acacia, which forms belts of riverine woodland lining the mostly dry riverbeds.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 3 for key species. This area holds vitally important populations of two globally threatened species, several biome-restricted species and important populations of other arid-zone birds. The lowland karroid plains are particularly good for Neotis ludwigii, Ardeotis kori, large numbers of Eupodotis vigorsii, Certhilauda albescens, Cercomela schlegelii, C. tractrac, C. sinuata, Emberiza impetuani and the recently recognized Certhilauda subcoronata. In the grassier areas, Eupodotis caerulescens are common. Circus maurus are occasionally seen quartering the plains, where huge numbers of Grus paradisea regularly congregate. Aquila rapax and Polemaetus bellicosus breed on the power lines in the area. The belts of riverine Acacia woodland support Phragmacia substriata, Sylvia layardi and Parus afer. Onychognathus nabouroup and Anthus crenatus occur in rocky gorges and kloofs. Other arid-zone species occurring within the conservancy are Melierax canorus, Batis pririt, Stenostira scita and Serinus albogularis. Falco naumanni have roosts throughout the area, including large roosts in the towns of De Aar, Hanover and Philipstown; they are frequently seen foraging in the conservancy in summer. Some of the dams are important roosts—during summer 1996/97, more than 850 Grus paradisea were counted on a dam in the area.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Platberg-Karoo Conservancy. Downloaded from on 20/09/2020.