Maputo Elephant Reserve, north of Ponta Malongane, is a 50 000 hectare
mosaic of lakes, floodplains, mangrove swamps, woodlands and forested
dunes sweeping down to unspoilt beaches.
Reserve was once a sanctuary to large herds of elephant, white rhino
and a variety of other game species, but poaching during the civil
war reduced animal numbers considerably. The entire white rhino
population of 65 animals, introduced from the iMfolozi Game Reserve
in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province in 1967 was wiped out,
while the elephant population decreased from an estimated 350 in
1971 to a mere 120 by the late 1980's.
Rio Futi provides an ecological link with the Tembe area in northern
KwaZulu-Natal and for centuries the fossil river has been used as
a migration route by elephants.
the winter months, the breeding herds congregate with their calves
in the vicinity of the park headquarters before migrating southwards.
Fearing that the elephants would be wiped out completely, KwaZulu-Natal
conservation authorities fenced off the northern boundary of the
Tembe Elephant Park in 1989.
1994 the Endangered Wildlife Trust has provided considerable financial
support to the National Directorate of Forestry and Wildlife to
rehabilitate the reserve. The programme included educating the local
population that the area is a reserve, halting, poaching, training
game guards and repairing tourism facilities.
numbers are increasing again and the Reserve's elephant population
currently numbers around 200, while the Tembe Elephant Park is estimated
at between 130 and 140 animals. although their spoor and dung are
frequently seen, the elephants are elusive and difficult to track
down in the dense bush. Other animals you chance spotting include
hippo, crocodile, nyala, red duiker, suni, vervet monkey and reedbuck.
Reserve offers excellent opportunities for bird watching as several
species reach the southern limit of their distribution in northern
KwaZulu-Natal. Among these are Rudd's Apalis, Woodward's batis,
Neergaard's sunbird and Pink-throated twinspot. Commonly seen species
include African Fish Eagle, Crested Guinea Fowl, Olive Bee-eather,
Woodland Kingfisher, and White-helmeted Shrike, as well as Grey,
trumpeter and Crowned Hornbills.