Chelmsford Nature Reserve

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General Information

Status:

Sub-regional IBA (C1)

Province:

KwaZulu-Natal

Protection:

Fully Protected

Size:

5 980 ha

Number:

SA059

Additional Info

  • Site description

    Located 26 km south of Newcastle, Chelmsford Nature Reserve features a gently undulating landscape with lightly wooded hills and flat-bottomed valleys. Its altitude range is 1 240–1 290 m a.s.l. The Ntshingwayo Dam, a large, man-made impoundment, and the Ngagane River are the dominant features in the area. The climate is warm-temperate and the annual average temperature is 16 °C. The usual rainfall range is 645–737 mm p.a., falling mainly in summer (October–March). The surrounding grassland is a good example of Northern KwaZulu-Natal Moist Grassland, a Vulnerable vegetation type with less than 2% conserved in South Africa.

    Birds

    Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus frequently forages in the reserve. The wetlands and surrounding grasslands are frequented by Grey Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum and Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus. Other wetland and grassland species of concern are African Marsh Harrier Circus ranivorus, Corn Crake Crex crex, African Grass Owl Tyto capensis, Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius and White-bellied Korhaan Eupodotis senegalensis. The rocky outcrops hold Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus.

    Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus frequently forages in the reserve. The wetlands and surrounding grasslands are frequented by Grey Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum and Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus. Other wetland and grassland species of concern are African Marsh Harrier Circus ranivorus, Corn Crake Crex crex, African Grass Owl Tyto capensis, Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius and White-bellied Korhaan Eupodotis senegalensis. The rocky outcrops hold Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus.

    IBA trigger species

    Globally threatened species are Southern Bald Ibis and Grey Crowned Crane. Regionally threatened species are White-bellied Korhaan, African Marsh Harrier and African Grass Owl.

    Other biodiversity

    This area holds an important population (50–70, depending on when translocations have taken place) of oribi Ourebia ourebi in KwaZulu-Natal, and probably in South Africa. Other Red Data mammals present are aardwolf Proteles cristatus and African wild cat Felis lybica. White rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum has been re-introduced. Two near-endemic plants, Searsia (formerly Rhus) gerrardii and Kniphofia breviflora, are present.

    Conservation issues

    Threats

    There are very few major threats facing Chelmsford Nature Reserve. The construction of the Chelmsford Dam (renamed the Ntshingwayo Dam) in 1962 and the subsequent raising of the dam wall in 1982 led to the flooding of approximately 2 500 ha of grassland and wetland habitat. Invasive alien plants such as wattle Acacia species, blue gum Eucalyptus species and bugweed Solanum mauritianum do occur in places but are actively controlled.

    Conservation action

    This State-owned reserve was proclaimed in 1980 and is administered by EKZNW. No conservation actions are taken that specifically benefit bird species. It is, however, a priority reserve due to having the highest density of oribi in South Africa. Managing the reserve for oribi can be expected to benefit certain grassland-associated trigger bird species.

    Related webpages

    www.kznwildlife.com

    Contact

    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

    Wednesday, 28 January 2015

    Further Reading

    None known.

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