Blouberg is an inselberg that lies to the west of the Soutpansberg range, some 80 km west of Louis Trichardt. This small, rugged pinnacle rises sharply from the surrounding plateau, the average altitude of which is 1 000 m a.s.l. Peaks such as Sesuane (1 552 m a.s.l.), Lenare (1 385 m a.s.l.) and the summit Gamonnaasenamoriri (2 051 m a.s.l.) dominate the massif. The IBA is defined as the part of the inselberg that lies above the 1 100 m a.s.l. contour line. The average annual rainfall is 400 mm and the average minimum and maximum temperatures are 8 °C and 27 °C respectively.
Small patches of high-altitude Afromontane forest are found in valleys and moist basins throughout Blouberg. Forest trees are widespread, while ferns such as Cyathea dregei, shrubs and small trees are abundant along the forest edges.
The cliffs at Blouberg regularly hold between 900 and 1 000 pairs of Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres, making it now the world’s largest colony for the species. In the past these vultures bred at satellite colonies such as Leipsig, Glenferness and Millbank, but this is no longer the case; now they breed only at the main colony of Blouberg. White-backed Vultures Gyps africanus occasionally wander through the area and visit the vulture feeding station in the reserve.
The surrounding woodland holds Red-crested Korhaan Eupodotis ruficrista, Monotonous Lark Mirafra passerina, Marico Flycatcher Bradornis mariquensis,Southern Pied Babbler Turdoides bicolor, White-throated Robin-Chat Cossypha humeralis, Kalahari Scrub Robin Erythropygia paena, Barred Wren-Warbler Calamonastes fasciolatus, Burnt-necked Eremomela Eremomela usticollis, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike Chlorophoneus viridis, Southern White-crowned Shrike Eurocephalus anguitimens, Scaly-feathered Finch Sporopipes squamifrons, Violet-eared Waxbill Uraeginthus granatinus, Black-faced Waxbill Estrilda erythronotos, Crested Guineafowl Guttera pucherani and Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori.
Cape Vulture is a globally threatened species. Common biome-restricted species are Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyanus, White-throated Robin-Chat, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike and White-bellied Sunbird Cinnyris talatala. Uncommon biome-restricted species are Kalahari Scrub Robin and Barred Wren-Warbler.
Blouberg is home to the orange-throated flat lizard Platysaurus monotropis, which is endemic to this set of inselbergs. Lang’s round-headed worm lizard Chirindia langi may be found on sandy Kalahari soils at the base of the mountain, while the giant legless skink Acontias plumbeus, a southern African endemic, may occur in the Blouberg forests. The global ranges of the dwarf flat lizard Platysaurus guttatus and black-spotted dwarf gecko Lygodactylus nigropuncatus are restricted to Blouberg. The Waterberg flat lizard Platysaurus minor occurs in the foothills. Cregoli’s blind legless skink Typhlosaurus cregoi is a southern African endemic that may occur on the Soutpansberg. Duerden’s burrowing asp Atractaspis duerdeni and Van Dam’s girdled lizard Cordylus vandami occur in the vicinity of Blouberg and possibly within the IBA. Threatened mammals include the pangolin Manis temminckii and leopard Panthera pardus.
For a wide-ranging species such as the Cape Vulture there are many threats that do not originate in the Blouberg IBA, such as the Borutho Nzelele 400-kV power line that will soon be constructed nearby. Electrocution and collisions with power lines are a major hazard for the species and the presence of such a high-voltage power line near the vulture colony is a concern. Threats to the IBA itself are relatively few. Communities on the border of the Blouberg Nature Reserve want to utilise resources within the protected area and poaching is a problem. A number of applications for mining iron ore near the reserve have been submitted.
The IBA consists of the Blouberg Nature Reserve, which was established in 1983, as well as some private properties. The Cape Vulture colony is located within the reserve and is therefore formally protected. In 2013 a management plan was drafted for the reserve, but there is insufficient funding and not enough staff to implement the plan. The Friends of Blouberg play an active role in supporting the reserve manager, monitor birds and other animals and support vulture conservation projects.
Benson PC, Dobbs JC. 1984. Causes of Cape Vulture mortality at the Kransberg colony. In: Mendelsohn JM, Sapsford CW (eds),Proceedings of the Second Symposium on African Predatory Birds. Durban: Natal Bird Club. pp 87–93.
Benson PC, Tarboton WR, Allan DG, Dobbs JC. 1990. The breeding status of the Cape Vulture in the Transvaal during 1980–1985. Ostrich 61: 134–142.
Coetzee BJ, Van Wyk P, Gertenbach WPD, Hall-Martin A, Joubert SCJ. 1981. ’n Plantekologiese verkenning van die Waterberggebied in die Noord-Transvaal bosveld. Koedoe 24: 1–23.