Polokwane Nature Reserve

General Information


Global IBA (A1, A3)






2 660 ha



Additional Info

  • Site description

    This site lies 3 km south of Polokwane and is located in undulating open acacia savanna and grassland. In general, the climate is semi-arid with three distinct seasons: hot and wet from November to April; cool and dry from April to August; and hot and dry from August to October.


    The reserve supports at least 350 bird species. It is the only reserve in South Africa in which the isolated eastern population of Short-clawed Lark Certhilauda chuana occurs. Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius can be found here and occasionally breeds. White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus and Cape Vulture G. coprotheres are occasional visitors. Other woodland specials include Red-crested Korhaan Eupodotis ruficrista, White-throated Robin-Chat Cossypha humeralis, Kalahari Scrub Robin Erythropygia paena, Burnt-necked Eremomela Eremomela usticollis, Barred Wren-Warbler Calamonastes fasciolata, Marico Flycatcher Bradornis mariquensis, Crimson-breasted Shrike Laniarius atrococcineus, Scaly-feathered Finch Sporopipes squamifrons, Violet-eared Waxbill Uraeginthus granatinus, Black-faced Waxbill Estrilda erythronotus and Shaft-tailed Whydah Vidua regia.

    IBA trigger species

    Globally threatened species are Cape Vulture, White-backed Vulture and Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus. Regional threatened species include Short-clawed Lark (30–55 pairs, 80–120 individuals). About 75 pairs occur on neighbouring properties. Of the biome-restricted species in the IBA, Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyanus and Barred Wren-Warbler are common, while White-throated Robin-Chat and Kalahari Scrub Robin are less common.

    Other biodiversity

    The reserve supports healthy populations of white rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum, tsessebe Damaliscus lunatus and sable antelope Hippotragus niger. Smaller mammals of conservation importance include aardvark Orycteropus afer, South African hedgehog Atelerix frontalis and honey badger Mellivora capensis.

    Conservation issues


    Polokwane GR B Ward SmithThe proximity of the IBA to Polokwane city centre makes this area attractive for housing developments and growing urban areas on its border pose the most important threat. The mines in the vicinity are a concern as contaminated water and other pollutants occasionally spill into the reserve. A number of mining applications have been submitted for an area to the south of the IBA. A fire plan exists for the reserve but is not always adhered to. Uncontrolled fires are a problem and fires after October, when Short-clawed Lark is breeding, can destroy nests and breeding habitat for the species.

    Conservation action

    The protection status of this IBA is unclear. It was previously formally protected but apparently was not formally proclaimed by the Polokwane municipality in terms of NEM:PAA. This situation needs to be rectified.

    Expansion of the IBA's boundary by including the large areas of undeveloped municipal land to the north-east of the reserve should be considered. The main trigger species for the IBA, Short-clawed Lark, occurs in good numbers on these properties and in some places might even occur in larger numbers there than in the reserve itself, especially as it prefers degraded areas.

    The fire management policy that has been formulated for the reserve (involving a four-year rotational burning programme) should be implemented.

    BirdLife Polokwane is actively involved in bird monitoring and conservation activities in the IBA.

    Related webpages



    If you have any information about the IBA, such as a new threat that could impact on it, please send an e-mail to iba@birdlife.org.za or call BirdLife South Africa +27 (11) 789 1122.

    Page last updated

    Monday, 16 February 2015

    Further Reading

    Engelbrecht, D. 2005. Breeding biology of the eastern population of the Short-clawed Lark in South Africa. Ostrich 76 (2&4): 154–161.

Read 13340 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 09:53