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In Numbers

Situated in Limpopo, the Wolkberg water source area supplies Polokwane and Tzaneen with water.

Size: 274 038 ha

Main Rivers

The Middle Letaba, Olifants and Ngwabitsi rivers flow from this water source area.

Did You Know?

  • The Letaba river flows through the Kruger National Park into Mozambique. It is home to hippos, crocodiles and other freshwater life.
  • 41% of the water supplied to Tzaneen is derived from the Soutpansberg water source area.
  • The east-west flowing rivers in the Lowveld are part of migration routes for herds of elephants, buffalo and wildebeest across Southern Africa.


Land Use (in %)

  • Mining 0.03%
  • Wetlands 0.72%
  • Urban 3.95%
  • Cultivation (irrigated) 6.39%
  • Waterbodies 0.67%
  • Plantation/Woodlot 16.82%
  • Cultivation (dryland) 2.32%
  • Natural 69.11%

22% Protected Areas

Only 22% of Wolkberg water source area is protected. Seven provincial nature reserves fall within Wolkberg including Wolkberg Caves Nature Reserve, Bewaarkloof Nature Reserve, Legalameetse Nature Reserve and Wolkberg Wilderness Area.

  • 7

Threat Status

  • River Ecosystems
  • Wetland Ecosystems

River Ecosystems

Approximately 69% of this water source area is in natural condition. Up to 19% of its river ecosystems are critically endangered.

  • 19% Critically Endangered
  • 29% Endangered
  • 9% Vulnerable
  • 43% Least Threatened

Wetland Ecosystems

All wetland ecosystems (100%) in Wolkberg are critically endangered. These wetland ecosystems cover 306 714 87 square meters.

  • 100% Critically Endangered


Alarmingly, all wetland ecosystems (30671487m2) in Wolkberg are critically endangered. Only 22% of this water source area is protected. Major land-uses include plantations (16.82%), cultivation (7.59%) and urban development (3.95%). What legal mechanisms would best protect this water source area in general and its wetland ecosystems in particular?

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.