South Africa Names Three New Sites
The Republic of South Africa has designated three more sites to the List of Wetlands of International Importance: Ndumo Game Reserve, the Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve, and the Natal Drakensberg Park. This brings the total number of sites which have been designated by South Africa to 15, and the total number on the African continent to 71 wetlands. South Africa was among the first seven countries to sign the Ramsar Convention in 1971 and became a Contracting Party in 1975 when the Convention came into force.
Ndumo Game Reserve, with an area of 10,117 hectares, is situated in the northwestern corner of Kwazulu-Natal, about 500km northeast of Durban. It consists of five wetland types, namely permanent and intermittent rivers/creeks; permanent and intermittent freshwater lakes; permanent, seasonal and intermittent saline lakes or marshes; permanent, seasonal and intermittent freshwater marshes or pools; and tree-dominated wetlands. It features large and relatively safe breeding populations of crocodile, hippopotamus, Nyala and black Rhinoceros, and is home to the following Red Data Book large herbivores: red duiker (rare), hippopotamus (rare), black rhino (vulnerable) and suni (vulnerable). A total of 350 bird species are recorded on the Pongolo floodplain, of which 120 species are dependent on the floodplain. Thirty-five of the species are recorded in the South African Red Data Book. It is the only breeding colony of White pelicans in South Africa. The site fulfills Ramsar Criteria 1(a), 1(c), 2(a), 2(c), and 3(b).
Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve, with an area of 4,754 ha is located in the northeastern corner of the Free State in the Memel district. The marshes bear the Afrikaans name for hippopotamus (Seekoei), the last of which was shot in 1894. The site includes the following wetland types: seasonal and intermittent freshwater lakes; riverine floodplains including river flats and seasonally flooded grasslands; seasonal and intermittent freshwater marshes and pools; and peatlands. The wetland plays a vital role in regulating flow and maintaining the highest water quality standards for the upper Vaal river and supports large number of local and migratory waterbirds. The site fulfills Criteria 1(a),1(c), 2(a), and 2(b).
Natal Drakensberg Park (approximately 242,813 ha) is located in eastern Kwazulu-Natal, along the border between the province of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, and the Kingdom of Lesotho. The park is characterized by an abundance of high altitude wetlands, including high altitude tarns, bogs, marshes and streams, found between 1300m and 3377m above sea level, in the montane, sub-alpine and alpine zones. It consists of interconnected systems of wetlands ranging from open water bodies such as mountain tarns, a variety of marshes and an intricate network of streams and river courses. It supports at least 36 endemic plants from 12 families and fulfills Ramsar Criteria 1(a),1(c), 1(d)2(a), 2(b), 2(c), and 2(d).
-- reported by Tom Kabii, Regional Coordinator, Africa