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In Numbers

Situated in Limpopo, the Soutpansberg water source area supplies Louis Trichardt and Thohoyandou with water.

Size: 232 625 ha

Main Rivers

The Luvuvhu Little Letaba, Mutale, Mutamba and Nzhelele rivers flow from this water source area are.

Did You Know?

  • One of South Africa’s largest freshwater lakes – Lake Fundudzi – is found here. This lake carries spiritual significance for the VhaVenda people.
  • Major plans are underway to import more water to Limpopo to support mining development.
  • 41% of the water supplied to Thohoyandou is derived from the Soutpansberg water source area.


Land Use (in %)

  • Mining 0.03%
  • Wetlands 0.20%
  • Urban 16.52%
  • Cultivation (irrigated) 7.19%
  • Waterbodies 0.51%
  • Plantation/Woodlot 8.46%
  • Cultivation (dryland) 4.56%
  • Natural 62.54%

1% Protected Areas

Soutpansberg is one of our least protected water source areas (only 1% protected). Portions of Kruger National Park, Happy Rest Nature Reserve and Nzhelele Nature Reserve are situated within Soutpansberg.

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Threat Status

  • River Ecosystems
  • Wetland Ecosystems

River Ecosystems

Approximately 63% of Soutpansberg water source area is in natural condition.

  • 4% Critically Endangered
  • 24% Endangered
  • 27% Vulnerable
  • 45% Least Threatened

Wetland Ecosystems

Approximately 64% of wetland ecosystems are critically endangered and 36% are critically endangered in Soutpansberg.

  • 64% Critically Endangered
  • 36% Endangered


Soutpansberg has almost no legal protection (only 1%) in terms of NEMPAA. It is comprised of a mix land-use including cultivation(11.75%), plantations (8.46%), and urban development (16.52%). What legal mechanisms can provide restrictions, or if needed, prohibitions, on a range of activities with environmental impacts, within a specified area?

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.