South Africa names uMgeni Vlei Nature Reserve
The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the government of South Africa has designated the uMgeni Vlei Nature Reserve (958 hectares, 29°29'34"S 029°49'43"E), a BirdLife Important Bird Area in KwaZulu-Natal province, as its 21st Wetland of International Importance. The new Ramsar Site is described as permanent freshwater marshes and pools consisting mainly of grasslands and a few small areas of scrubby woodland. Located at about 1,840m asl in the Drakensberg Alpine Centre biodiversity hotspot, the site contains endemic and nationally threatened plant species including Merwilla natalensis and the KwaZulu-Natal endemic Kniphofia brachystachya and Kniphofia breviflora. It is a key representative remnant of the natural wetlands in the Highland Sourveld bioregion and noted to be an important breeding ground for several waterbirds including the IUCN Red-Listed Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus, Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum, and Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus (2-3 breeding pairs present, representing over 2-3 % of the South African breeding Population). The site and its surrounding area are threatened by the invasive American bramble Rubus cuneifolius.