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Kamfers Dam birding, Kimberley, Northern Cape

Kamfer's Dam, Kimberley Birdwatching

Kamfers Dam, north of Kimberley, was once a wetland area only in the high rainfall season. Today, the town has diverted the treated sewerage water and Kimberley’s storm water run-off through the municipality’s reticulation system, turning this 400 ha pan into a permanent wetland. Because of its ecological importance to waterbirds, Kamfers Dam is recognised as a Natural Heritage Site, and has international Ramsar status pending. To date, about 180 species have been recorded, of which the flamingo is iconic. Up to 60,000 congregate here, and are a photographer’s delight, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon, when the pink of their plumage mirrors the colour of the sky.

From the “viewing point”, Black-winged Stilt, Common Greenshank, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Kittlitz’s Plover and Chestnut-banded Plover are common waders seen. It is possible to see all three species of grebe and to watch them carrying their offspring on their backs, presenting perfect opportunities for the avid wildlife photographer.

For those who are willing to venture across to the reedbeds (via Homevale), the bird watching can be particularly rewarding with a long list of possible ticks.

Kamfers Dam is a successful conservation effort to increase the dwindling population of Lesser Flamingos in Southern Africa. Each summer a batch of more than 10000 chicks are produced on the purpose built island that was constructed in 2006. Kamfers Dam is currently the only breeding locality for Lesser Flamingos in South Africa. It is also one of only four breeding localities in Africa (the others being Sua Pan in Botswana, Etosha Pan in Namibia, and Lake Natron in Tanzania).

This initiative has received national and international acclaim, with the builders of the island, Ekapa Mining, receiving the prestigious Nedbank Capital Green Mining Award and Mark Anderson receiving an African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement Award.

Kamfers Dam’s flamingos are however threatened by deteriorating water quality and also by a proposed massive housing development on a property adjoining Kamfers Dam. These threats are being addressed by the Save the Flamingo Association which is sponsored by Nedbank, Ekapa Mining, Nugen and Africam.

The Dam is situated just north of Kimberley on the N12 to Johannesburg. Access is only allowed to just beyond the subway (so-called viewing point) adjacent to the Kimberley – Warrenton national road (N12). The landowner has experienced problems with stock theft and poaching and therefore does not allow access, without prior arrangement, beyond this point.

To gain access to the extensive reed beds and shallow ponds on the western and south-western side of the dam, one has to travel via the Homevale Sewerage Works. The road is not marked, and directions will have to be sought from people in the surrounding suburbs.

More info on the quaint town of Kimberley More info on the Diamond Fields area

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