For those who don't know the northern part of South Africa, the Waterberg in Limpopo Province is a large elevated plateau with the town of Vaalwater (-24.2987, 28.1100) at its centre. Shaped like an inverted saucer, the plateau stands some four to five hundred metres above the surrounding plains of the Springbok Flats to the south and east and the Limpopo River valley to the north. It reaches its highest point, 2088 m above sea-level (at -23.4707, 27.5886), in Marakele National Park. The plateau extends for about 170 km from east to west, and from north to south, and it is rimmed on three sides by majestic cliffs. It covers an area of about 14 000 km², roughly two-thirds the size of the Kruger National Park. It is drained by several rivers – the Mogol, Palala, Mothlabatsi, Sterk, Mogalakwena and Sand – all of which form part of the catchment of the Limpopo River.
Much of the Waterberg is relatively sparsely settled and extensive parts of it have been given over to conservation and wildlife ranching: within its boundaries are the Marakele National Park (64 632 ha), Welgevonden Game Reserve (34850 ha), Lapalala Wilderness (42 000 ha), four Provincial nature reserves - D'Nyala (7 976 ha), Doorndraai Dam (6 847 ha), Mogol Dam (5 124 ha), Masebe (4 400 ha) - that are administered by the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment & Tourism (LEDET) and innumerable other privately owned game farms.
In 2001 a third of the plateau (6 524 km²) was designated by UNESCO as the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve and more recently BirdLife South Africa has recognised the entire Waterberg as a globally recognised Important Bird & Biodiversity Area (IBA). As examples of the value of the Waterberg for biodiversity, populations of about 2000 plant species occur here, of which about 30 are range-restricted, rare or endangered; mammal species recorded number 119, reptile species 98, bird species 447, butterfly species 242, dragonflies and damselflies 91, and so on.
One of BirdLife South Africa's goals is to enhance and promote the conservation status of the Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas in South Africa and the purpose of this website is to assist in this endeavour for the Waterberg. We aim to provide a resource that documents and illustrates the fauna and flora of the region, helps pinpoint critical biodiversity areas and, for added interest, provides visual, descriptive and reference information on the Waterberg's geology, geomorphology, landscapes and history. The website is very much a work-in-progress and any participation, information or other contributions to the project are welcomed - if you have photos of any interesting aspect of the Waterberg and are prepared to have them included in this site, please let us know.
The map below outlines the area of interest, the outer perimeter demarcated in green. This map shows, too, the parts that are hilly or mountainous (brown), the towns and villages in the area (dark grey), the network of tarred and gravel roads (black lines) and the main rivers (blue lines). Below that is a map showing the vegetation units in the area and a list of the dominant trees and shrubs in each can be downloaded here. Below the vegetation map is a rainfall map and below that again, is a topographic map of the Waterberg.