Soutpansberg – Mangilasi Dam

About the Birding

The Mangilasi Dam is situated in the middle of the Mangilasi Village, in Tshivhazwaulu, Vuwani. Formed along the Sanzu River – a tributary of the Luvuvhu River – the dam is permanently full and therefore supports a healthy population of waterfowl. Roughly 45% of the dam is covered by water lilies making it an ideal spot to look for the African Pygmy Goose, Allen’s Gallinule (summer), White-backed Duck and Lesser Jacana.

Other notable species include the Common and Lesser (summer) Moorhens, Reed Cormorant, Western Osprey, and Lesser Swamp Warbler. The scarce Orange-breasted Waxbill occurs in the surrounding grassland while Holub’s Golden Weaver can be found in scrub and thickets.

Key species:

Lesser Jacana, Western Osprey, African Pygmy Goose, Allen’s Gallinule

About the Birding Site

The Soutpansberg Birding Route is situated in the very northernmost part of the Limpopo Province including the northern parts of Kruger National Park, Mapungubwe National Park, Venda and the Soutpansberg Mountain range. This is arguably one of the most diverse Birding Routes in all of South Africa, boasting a list well in excess of 540 bird species. Many of these species are residents of the region, implying that there is a year-round abundance of birds to see. However, the resident assemblage of species is supplemented by the mass influx of a high diversity of migrant species in the summer months.

The diversity of the region is linked to the region’s climatic and associated habitat diversity. The Soutpansberg Mountains receive high annual rainfall and are blanketed in well-developed tracts of indigenous forest. These forests support a wealth of sought-after specials including the Blue-spotted Wood Dove, African Broadbill, Eastern Nicator, Gorgeous Bush Shrike, Orange Ground Thrush, Crested Guineafowl and Barratt’s Warbler. To the north, the climate is noticeably more seasonal and the habitat is drier in these parts, dominated by Baobab country, extensive mopane woodlands, and South Africa’s only known patch of Brachystegia woodland. Top specials within these areas include the Mottled Spinetail, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Meves’s Starling, Three-banded Courser, and Southern Hyliota. The region is drained by the Limpopo River (and its tributaries), along which it is possible to find the sought-after Pel’s Fishing Owl, Saddle-billed Stork, and White-crowned Lapwing while its extensive floodplains support a wealth of waterbirds and the localized Lemon-breasted Canary. The western part of the region, towards the Mogalakwena River, is dry bordering the Kalahari and thus species such as the Southern Pied Babbler, Kori Bustard, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater and Pale Chanting Goshawk can be found.

Given the size of the Soutpansberg birding route, together with the sheer habitat diversity, we have divided the region into nine different birding areas. Each birding area has its own unique climatic and/or habitat elements and thus each supports its own unique assemblage of bird species. Within each, there are a variety of accommodation options and birding sites to visit.

The Albasini Dam is the biggest waterbody in this area. From the north, one can visit the Department of Water Affairs Picnic Site which has a fair bit of waterfront and an extensive piece of sour bushveld. Birding around the dam is best done by boat and it is possible to find such sought-after specials as the White backed Night-Heron and African Finfoot. The nearby Levubu region is one of South Africa’s richest sub-tropical fruit farming areas. The little town of Levubu itself is the centre of this area and caters for the farming community in the district. The area has two major rivers, the Lotonyanda River and the Levubu river. Both are fringed by Lowveld Riverine Forest and Semi-deciduous Mixed Forest and are alive with birds. Access to the rivers is difficult as much of this area is under private ownership. Nevertheless, the area has an impressive species total of over 300 birds. It abounds with Purple-crested Turaco and African Green Pigeon, while other key species to look for include the Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Crested Guineafowl, Brown-necked (Grey-headed) Parrot and the Gorgeous Bush Shrike. Allow at least a day in this region to target all key species.

Key species:

Lesser Jacana, Western Osprey, African Pygmy Goose, Allen’s Gallinule

Other Related Information

Admission to the dam is free of charge but this will likely change, given the proposal for a Community Development Plan.
GPS: 23.087, 30.384

Recommended accommodation nearby:
The nearest BirdLife Recommended Accommodations are in the town of Louis Trichardt. For more information, please contact:

Other related information:

Zvakanaka Farm
Cell: +27 (0)84 400 4595
Email: gail@zka.co.za
Website: www.zka.co.za

Other BirdLife Recommended Accommodation options can be found in the nearby town of Haenertsburg (Magoebaskloof) as follows:

Kurisa Moya Nature Lodge
Tel: +27 (0)15 276 1131
Mobile: +27 (0)82 200 4596
E-mail: info@krm.co.za
Web: http://www.krm.co.za

Bramasole Guesthouse
Tel: +27(0)15 007 0629 (weekdays 8am – 5pm)
Phone: +27(0)72 062 8514
Email: reservations@bramasole.co.za
Web: www.bramasole.co.za

Magoebaskloof Birders’ Cottages
Address: Dragonwyck Farm, A 46.5 off R71, Magoebaskloof
Phone: +27(0)84 402 3709
Web: http://mbcottage.co.za/ or http://birderscottage.com

Local guide information:
Samson Mulaudzi
Mobile: +27 (0)83 662 9960
Email: samson@birdingsoutpansberg-venda.co.za
Web: www.birdingsoutpansberg-venda.co.za

Text prepared by:
Daniel Danckwerts (Rockjumper Birding Tours)

Key species:

Lesser Jacana, Western Osprey, African Pygmy Goose, Allen’s Gallinule

Contact details:

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