Spitskop Dam

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description (baseline)
Spitskop Dam lies 33 km south-west of Jan Kempdorp. This is one of the largest wetlands in the semi-arid Northern Cape region. It holds water permanently, and is a vital water-source when all the other ephemeral and temporary wetlands in the region have dried up. The dam lies on the Harts river, and is surrounded by open Kimberley thorn-bushveld savanna, dominated by trees of Acacia and Boscia. The shrub layer is moderately developed in places and includes species of Tarchonanthus, Grewia and Lycium.

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. This wetland regularly supports over 10,000 birds, and has occasionally supported up to 18,000. Occurring in a region where rainfall is unpredictable, any permanent water-body is of major importance during drier periods when other wetlands dry up. The dam supports notable numbers of Pelecanus rufescens, Sterna caspia, Phoenicopterus ruber and Phoenicopterus minor. Other species that also occur in significant numbers include Podiceps cristatus, Phalacrocorax carbo, Anhinga rufa, Platalea alba, Tadorna cana, Anas undulata, Fulica cristata and Recurvirostra avosetta. The Kalahari thornveld holds Cercotrichas paena, Pterocles burchelli and Pterocles namaqua, among other species.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The dam is not formally protected and ownership falls into three categories, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF), private farmland, and undeclared state land. A single body, DWAF, however, manages the dam for water consumption and recreation. In the rural northern sector, the land is intensively grazed by small and large stock. Excessive livestock-grazing in the former homeland of Bophuthatswana, hunting and poaching of birds, and pollution from agricultural pesticides and fertilizers remain a threat to the system. The Northern Cape Nature Conservation Service conducts bi-annual waterbird surveys on the dam.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Spitskop Dam. Downloaded from on 28/05/2023.