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In Numbers

Situated in the eastern parts of the Western Cape, the Kouga water source area supplies Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage with water.

Size: 50 796 ha

Covering only 50 796 hectares of land, Kouga is the second smallest of South Africa’s water source areas.

Main Rivers

The Kouga, Gamtoos-Gouritz, Olifants and Baviaanskloof rivers flow from this water source area.

Did You Know?

  • The Kouga water source area has the highest proportion of natural vegetation (98.58%) of all of South Africa’s water source areas.
  • It is also the best protected water source area - 75% is protected in a nature reserve or conservancy.


Land Use (in %)

  • Mining 0.00%
  • Wetlands 1.29%
  • Urban 0.00%
  • Cultivation (irrigated) 0.02%
  • Waterbodies 0.00%
  • Plantation/Woodlot 0.00%
  • Cultivation (dryland) 0.10%
  • Natural 98.58%

77% Protected Areas

The Kouga water source area is strongly protected (77%). The Garden Route National Park, Addo Elephant Park and the Bavaainskloof Nature Reserve fall within this water source area.

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Threat Status

  • River Ecosystems
  • Wetland Ecosystems

River Ecosystems

The Kouga water source area is almost entirely in natural condition (98.5%). None of its river and wetland ecosystems are threatened.

  • 100% Least Threatened

Wetland Ecosystems

  • 100% Least Threatened


The Kouga water source area is well protected (77%) and almost entirely in natural condition (98.58%). Nevertheless, alien invasive vegetation and fires pose a threat to this water source area. What programmes are specifically intended to control alien invasive vegetation and mitigate fire risks?

Interactive Map

South Africa has 22 water source areas spread across five provinces (KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Limpopo). The total size of our water source areas is 12.32 million hectares. A number of these areas extend and are shared with Lesotho and Swaziland; approximately 1.91 million hectares in Lesotho and 0.93 million hectares in Swaziland.

The total volume of water supplied by these areas per year is approximately 2 457 million cubic metres. The greatest volume of recharge is generated by the Southern Drakensberg, followed by the Eastern Cape Drakensberg and the Boland Mountains.