The site consists of a group of privately owned farms that forms a triangle delineated roughly by the Crocodile River in the east and the Bierspruit River in the west; the confluence of these two rivers is approximately 3 km south-west of Thabazimbi. The road running along the railway line from Bierspruit siding to Northam and on to Koedoeskop forms the southern boundary of the IBA. Characterised by flat plains on black vertic clays derived from basalt, the area is widely used for wheat, maize, sunflower and livestock farming. Temperatures vary between extremes of -6 °C and 40 °C, with an average of 19 °C. The summer rainfall is erratic and variable, ranging from 450 to 750 mm per year. Some natural patches of clay thorn bushveld remain and are scattered throughout the farmland.
This area holds the core of the remaining resident South African population of Yellow-throated Sandgrouse Pterocles gutturalis. The sandgrouse inhabit short, open grasslands, fallow fields and recently burnt veld, especially on black clay soils near water. Other important birds in the IBA include Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius, Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori, Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus and Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni.
The only globally threatened species is Black-winged Pratincole; regionally threatened species are Yellow-throated Sandgrouse and Lanner Falcon. Common biome-restricted species include Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyanus, White-throated Robin-Chat Cossypha humeralis, Burchell's Starling Lamprotornis australis, White-bellied Sunbird Cinnyris talatala and the fairly common Kalahari Scrub Robin Erythropygia paena.
The Yellow-throated Sandgrouse population is relatively healthy. The birds have adapted to foraging in fallow fields over the past few years because much of their natural habitat has been transformed into agricultural land, especially through the establishment of centre-point irrigation schemes. There are a number of mines in the area and it is a concern that the footprint of these mines is increasing.
No formal protected areas occur within the IBA. More monitoring is needed to determine the population status of Yellow-throated Sandgrouse and especially the threats that impact on this species. The status of other trigger species within the IBA must also be studied in more detail. Based on this analysis, the status of this IBA should be re-evaluated.
Blane S, Tarboton WR. 1990. A year with the Yellow-throated Sandgrouse. African Wildlife 44: 272–274.