KwaZulu Natal Game and Nature ReservesThe Matatiele Nature Reserve
The Matatiele Nature Reserve is a core protected area within the Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Area. It abuts the little town of Matatiele to the south, lying in the north-eastern reaches of the Eastern Cape near the border with KwaZulu-Natal. To the north is the Drakensberg.
The Matatiele nature reserve was created to protect the important grasslands, wetlands and rare species of plants and includes Matatiele's bird-rich commonage and a wide valley known as the Cedarville Flats.
Most of the reserve is pure grassland, although there is a meagre protea woodland and, along the high ridges and spurs, is the odd bit of scrub in amongst rocks and along drainage lines.
The commonage is rated as an Important Bird Area (IBA), supporting important populations of southern bald ibis, black harrier, blue crane, Rudd's lark, yellow-breasted and mountain pipit, Drakensberg rock-jumper and buff-streaked chat, amongst others.
It is the only reserve to formally conserve the critically endangered Rudd's lark, which needs short, dense grass cover (usually no higher than 0.6 metres) to survive. It occurs in very few locations in South Africa.
Recent surveys (December 2013 and 2014) failed to sight the lark in Matatiele. The commonage is controlled by the Matatiele's local municipality but has never been ploughed, cultivated or built on. They have made maintenance of suitable habitat for the lark a priority and continue to monitor the reserve in the hope of a sighting.
Up on the rocky slopes of the mountains are further specials like the ground woodpecker, and Gurney's sugarbird. The Cape eagle owl, although difficult to spot, lives in amongst the rocky ledges and cliffs and the grasslands are home to numerous birds and specials.
Since 2011 Matatiele Nature Reserve has introduced more game to the reserve. Now you can also see small herds of red hartebeest, and mountain reedbuck.
San rock art decorates many of the rocks in the area.
Attractions near Matatiele Nature Reserve
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