Located in Ekurhuleni in the east of Gauteng, near the neighbourhood of Springs, the Blesbokspruit is one of the largest wetlands in the highveld region of Southern Africa at 1 858ha. The wetland is a high conservation priority as it forms an important component of one of the tributaries of the Vaal River and provides visitors with one of the easier-going getaways in Gauteng.

The Blesbokspruit system is valuable to the eco system of the area because of its ability to purify industrial and domestic discharge into the Blesbokspruit River from local industries, sewage works and mines reducing the amount of pollution entering the Vaal River.

The geology of the area is fairly simple, with flat lying sedimentary rocks of the Karoo and Transvaal age, overlying older formations of the gold bearing Witwatersrand. The reed-dominated wetland is permanently flooded, due to artificial inputs of mining, industrial and municipal waste, resulting in an area rich in nutrients and ultimately a vast array of flora and fauna. Agriculturally, the land is used to farm maize, vegetables, lucerne, kikuyu (lawn grass), fodder and flowers.


Herons on flooded road

Herons on flooded road (Image: The Lazy Birder)

If birdwatching is on your list of things to do in Gauteng, then this is the perfect place to visit as a significant number of waterbirds can be spotted on the Blesbokspruit, such as the Spurwinged goose,  the Yellowbilled duck, Anas undalata and in the dry season you can often spot the rare Plectropterus gambenisis.  Other notable birds in the area include the Avocet Recurvirostra Avosetta, Purple Heron, Ardea pururea, the African spoonbill Platalea Alba, and the African marsh harrier circus ranivorus which has been displaced from much of its ranges still maintains a strong population here.


Blesbokspruit wetland

Blesbokspruit wetland (Image: Mostly Birding)

The Blesbokspruit wetlands are fertile with different types of vegetation. There is algae, aquatic, and terrestrial vegetation. The wetlands provide dense reed habitat, the reedbeds exist mainly as large and small single colonies with some mixed species. 

The aquatic habitat consists mostly of phragmites australis, bulrushes typha latifolia and sedges, which cover 90% of the water surface.

A wide variety of flowering plants can also be found on the wetlands, some of the more spectacular plants are the Orange River lily, plough breaker and the Aloe ecklonis.