Waterberg System

Country/territory: South Africa

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

Area: 375,000 ha

Protection status:

BirdLife South Africa
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2013 high unfavourable low
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
The site consists of the Waterberg range and its cliffs. The range is about 150 km long and it runs from 15 km north-east of Thabazimbi, eastwards, to Hanglip Point c.30 km west of Potgietersrus. The Kransberg, a massif within the western sector of the Waterberg range, has been incorporated into Marakele National Park. The region is surrounded by granite, basalt and sandstone ridges, which are eroded into natural blocks by the Mogol and Lephalala rivers.The area is characterized by open broadleaved woodland that is common on the plains below the Waterberg mountains, dominated by trees of Faurea, Terminalia, Acacia, Burkea and Peltophorum in the deep sandy areas, with Kirkia and Englerophytum characteristic on the rocky slopes. Other trees scattered throughout various communities include species of Heteropyxis, Dombeya, Lannea and Pterocarpus. Natural climax grassland is scarce and it occurs only in the highest regions where it is restricted to the highest plateaus or cool south-facing slopes. On deep sands, where termitaria occur, typical bushveld clumps become common. Proteoid shrubland occurs on cool slopes. Forest and thicket communities develop in the kloofs and ravines, holding trees of Podocarpus, Mimusops, Combretum, Olea, Calodendrum, Ficus, Diospyros, Maytenus and other forest elements.

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. Kransberg holds the largest Gyps coprotheres colony in the world; it comprised c.900 breeding pairs in 1984, but by 1998 numbers had fallen to c.700 pairs. Most of the vulture cliffs are situated outside Marakele National Park, which should be enlarged to incorporate the key breeding cliffs. The Kransberg also holds breeding Ciconia nigra. The grasslands support small populations of Neotis denhami and Eupodotis senegalensis. Promerops gurneyi occurs at higher altitudes where Protea roupelliae dominates the proteoid shrubland. The woodland at the base of the mountains holds Bucorvus cafer and Ardeotis kori, which breed near Ellisras, and are regular within the IBA. Other woodland birds include Eupodotis ruficrista, Mirafra passerina, Bradornis mariquensis, Lamprotornis australis, Cercotrichas paena, Calamonastes fasciolatus, Laniarius atrococcineus, Vidua regia and Eurocephalus anguitimens.

Non-bird biodiversity: The threatened butterfly, Eriksonia acraeina, occurs here. The global ranges of the cycad Encephalartos eugene-maraisii, and the reptiles Lygodactylus waterbergensis, Cordylus breyeri and Platysaurus minor, are virtually restricted to these mountains. Both Platysaurus guttatus and P. relictus (LR/nt) have global ranges restricted to the Waterberg and nearby Soutpansberg (IBA ZA002). The mammal Loxodonta africana (EN) has been reintroduced in various high-profile conservation areas.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Waterberg System. Downloaded from on 30/09/2020.