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Lake Sibaya

Designated 28 June 1991

Lake Sibaya, one of the complex of Ramsar sites situated on the coastal plain that makes up north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal, is the largest natural fresh water lake in the country, with an area of 60 to 70 km2. Surface water in the surrounding coastal plain often disappears completely during dry years, making the lake the only source of permanent water for birds and mammals. The wetland also supports rural people of the region, who in many cases are totally dependent on the water resource and its associated flora and fauna. Sibaya is also an important link between Kosi Bay and St Lucia, providing a stepping stone for the extension of tropical elements down the east coast.

The lake contains the second largest population of hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius and crocodile Crocodylus niloticus in KwaZulu-Natal. Eighteen species of fish occur in the lake and feeder streams. One of these, a freshwater goby Silhouetta sibayi, is endemic to the system. The fauna reflect a marine origin and have close affinities with tropical forms. Twenty two species of frog and eight reptile species are associated with the lake. Of the 279 bird species recorded in the area, 60 are closely associated with the lake for breeding, feeding and roosting. Numerous other Red Data species occur in the system including the only known population of Vanilla roscheri (a climbing orchid).

Map of the site (116 kB)

Ramsar Information Sheet

Photo gallery

KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service

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Home This page is maintained by the South African Wetlands Conservation Programme and was last updated on 12 January 1999.