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Page History: Tussen-die-Riviere Game Reserve

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Page Revision: 2008/10/10 11:51

The Tussen-die-Riviere Nature Reserve is situated at the confluence of the Caledon and Orange Rivers near Bethulie in the southern Free State. The reserve also forms the upper limit of the Gariep Dam. The reserve is easily accessible from either Bloemfontein, the Eastern Cape (via Aliwal North), and the Southwestern Cape (via the N1 over Springfontein). This easily accessible yet relatively unknown area has a bird list of about 220 species.


Habitats includes mainly riverine bush with exposed sandbanks along the two rivers, grassy-karoo veld areas and mountain hillsides with rocky substrates which are dominated by Olea bushes and several Rhus species. Along the shores of the rivers and near streams large stands of reedbeds are common, while Weeping Willows and Buffalo Thorn trees grow mainly near the office complex and below the chalets.


Along the Orange and Caledon Rivers several water-associated species occur. These include South African Shelduck, Yellow-billed Duck, and Pied Avocet. Caspian Tern and Grey-headed Gull are found at the confluence of the rivers. Along the open sandy shores of the rivers Kittlitz's Plover and Three-banded Plover are characteristic species, together with African Pied Wagtail, African Black Duck, Pied Kingfisher and Giant Kingfisher. The typical trilling call of the Namaqua Warbler can be heard from the reedbed clumps along the river and smaller streams, as well as those of African Reed-Warbler and Lesser Swamp-Warbler.

In the grassland areas, which at places is "invaded" by karoo shrub vegetation, typical species are Eastern Clapper Lark, Spike-heeled Lark, Red-capped Lark and Large-billed Lark, while Double-banded Courser, Sickle-winged Chat, Karoo Chat, Yellow-bellied Eremomela and Rufous-eared Warbler are common. Other specials of this habitat are Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Grey-winged Francolin, Orange River Francolin, Ludwig's Bustard, Eastern Long-billed Lark, Karoo Prinia, Buffy Pipit and Long-billed Pipit. The recently described Long-tailed Pipit possibly also occur in the reserve and birders must be on the lookout for them as they have been found breeding at a nearby farm, Cypherfontein in Springfontein district. The owner, Riette Griesel can be contacted by (051) 7830203 or 0829009888. The farm is approximately 20 km from Springfontein.

In the rocky hillsides and more mountainous areas, Southern Free State specials such as Karoo Scrub-Robin, Layard’s Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler, Grey-backed Cisticola and African Rock Pipit are easily detected by their calls. Other species are Grey Tit (common at "Klipstapel Rotse"), Short-toed Rock-Thrush (easily observed where they perch on telegraph poles along reserve roads), White-throated Canary and Lark-like Bunting. In the dense bush African Green-Pigeon have been also observed. At Middelpunt, near the offices, a windmill-fed dam attracts several birds that come to drink. Species like Black-headed Canary and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, among other buntings and seedeaters have been observed at water point.

Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk and Speckled Mousebird have been observed in the riverine bush and in the hilly areas of the reserve. Verreauxs' Eagle, Martial Eagle, Lanner Falcon, Alpine Swift and Pied Crow also occur in the skies above the grassland and mountainous areas.


The reserve is known as a hunting destination and the office (ph: 051 763 1000) must be contacted beforehand to make reservations for accommodation in either the camping sites or the fully equipped two-bedded chalets as it is closed during some times of the year (mainly during winter months). The reserve has also three hiking trails from which the area can be explored: Muddelpunt, Klipstapel and Orange River Trails.

Dawie de Swardt 2001.

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