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South Africa designates three new Ramsar Sites

  • South Africa designates three new Ramsar Sites
    Dassen Island Nature Reserve. Credit: Wikipedia

About the entity

The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

South Africa has named three new Wetlands of International Importance. It now has 26 “Ramsar Sites”.

Dassen Island Nature Reserve (Site no. 2383) and Dyer Island Provincial Nature Reserve and Geyser Island Provincial Nature Reserve (Site no. 2384) are situated on islands off the coast of Western Cape Province. They lie within the Benguela upwelling ecosystem, which lifts cold, nutrient-rich water to the surface, supporting a rich biodiversity.

As an Important Bird Area (IBA), Dyer Island Provincial Nature Reserve and Geyser Island Provincial Nature Reserve hosts around 48 bird species and it is a breeding area for 21 of them, including globally endangered seabirds such as the African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) and Cape cormorant (Phalacrocorax capensis) which number more than 35,000.

The surrounding seas are inhabited by at least 11 shark species including great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) and dusky ground shark (Carcharhinus obscurus). A further 26 fish species including the endangered galjoen have been recorded, as well as whales and dolphins.

Dassen Island Nature Reserve is also an IBA. It provides habitat for 10 of the 15 seabirds endemic to southern Africa, and numerous Palearctic and sub-Antarctic migrants. It provides safe breeding refuge for threatened species such as the African penguin and Cape cormorant and other coastal birds: it is one of only two breeding sites of the great white pelican in South Africa.

Kgaswane Mountain Reserve (Site no. 2385) in the Magaliesberg mountain range in North West Province features grassland, shrubland and mixed woodland. Over 115 tree and bush species have been identified in the Reserve, as well as endemic and threatened plants such as Frithia pulchra and Aloe peglerae.

Around 500 antelopes are found, including mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula), greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and sable antelope (Hippotragus niger), as well as a few predators such as leopard (Panthera pardus). 320 bird species shelter in the Reserve, including the vulnerable martial eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus).

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