Interactive Map of KwaZulu-Natal Reserves
Maputaland in Northern
KwaZulu-Natal is the geographic name given to one of South Africa's
where fantastic coral reefs, endemic plants, turtles, birds and
other animals thrive. This ecologically diverse region is bordered
by the Lebombo Mountains in the west, with the Maputaland Marine
Reserve forming the eastern boundary. It has an extraordinary range
of ecosystems and wildlife and hosts South Africa's largest natural
inland lakes - Sibaya, St. Lucia and the Kosi system - as well
as the world's highest vegetated dunes, just south of Rocktail
Bay. Maputaland is also home to one of South Africa's few "World
Heritage Sites" - the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park.
This area is one of the few in South
Africa where one can still experience the atmosphere of old Africa.
Driving east, one crosses the Lebombo Mountains and enters traditional
tribal countryside, which is noticeably free of fences. The roads
meander past small villages, where herds of cattle wander across
the roads in search of good grazing. You travel past bustling roadside
markets, see the local people making palm wine...It's a truly tranquil
picture of old Africa.
Man and Maputaland are integrally
linked - fossil evidence in the area suggests that it has been
inhabited by man for at least 110,000 years. In the past, the proud
Thonga inhabitants of the area traded with others from the north
- Arab, Zanzibari, Ottoman, and later from the south - English
and Boer. These cultures have all tried to conquer the Thonga,
but with little success.
It was the hunting of game that necessitated
the creation of wildlife reserves. In fact, the area boasts some
of the oldest wildlife reserves in the country, some of which were
proclaimed at the turn of the 19th century! Maputaland has been
the platform for saving the White Rhino from extinction and the
conservation authorities in KwaZulu-Natal are widely regarded as
being at the forefront of mammal conservation.
The lakes of the Pongola floodplains
are home to a bounty of large animals. Enormous Crocodiles can
be seen sunning themselves lazily at the edge of the pans, which
are filled with pods of wallowing Hippos. Both species of Rhinoceros
occur in the Maputaland reserves, as well as numbers of Cape Buffalo,
Giraffe, Kudu, Wildebeest and Nyala.
The Greater St. Lucia Wetland
Park is the first in a series of amalgamations of Maputaland's
conservation areas and has been proclaimed a World Heritage
Site. However, further progress in this field is not possible
the inclusion of the local people. The local African safari
camp operators which we support operate in conjunction with
Zululand – A
History of Maputaland
Stone and Iron Ages: Maputaland has a long and interesting history
of human settlement, with much archaeological evidence of Middle
Stone Age, Late Stone Age and Iron Age people residing in the Lebombo
Farming Through Fire: From
1400 to 1460, modern Bantu tribes moved in from the north,
bringing their skills of
metal working, pottery,
crop growing and stock rearing to the area. However, their farming
methods had a severe impact on the environment – they used
fire to create farming plots and improve cattle grazing.
Zulu Conquests: Military
conquests of the Zulu kings, Shaka and Dingaan, turned Maputaland
into a “melting pot” for
the Thinga and Nguni (Zulu) tribes. Though the Zulu mostly invaded
more temperate regions suitable for crop growing, raids were often
made to Maputaland. Today, the original amaThonga of Maputaland
have been absorbed into the Zulu nation. Although they still practise
some of their own cultural traditions, they have been greatly influenced
by Zulu, Swazi and European cultures.
Portuguese Traders: The first Europeans to visit Maputaland were
the Portuguese, who traversed the coast on their way to India in
the early 16th century. They set up ports and bartered beads, ornaments
and clothing in exchange for ivory and other goods, as did the
Dutch and English in later years. This helped set up trade links
to the interior in the 19th century.
and Missionaries: Although Maputaland was regarded
as a fever-ridden wilderness, hunters, explorers and missionaries
increasingly visited the area, greatly influencing the local people.
When the land-locked Boer republics attempted to gain links to
the sea at St. Lucia, Sodwana and Kosi in 1889, Maputaland came
into the political spotlight.
Creation of Phinda: Presently,
Maputaland has huge potential through its natural resources,
which need to be
Cattle ranches and farmland were purchased to create Phinda Private
Game Reserve in 1991. Today, Phinda is one of Africa’s premier
ecotourism destinations as well as a centre point for local community
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of KwaZulu-Natal Province
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