Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area
Transfrontier conservation areas, also referred to as peace parks, are protected areas that flow from one country into another unrestricted by physical and political boundaries, thereby allowing animals the freedom to follow natural migration patterns. The primary goal of transfrontier conservation areas (TFCA) is, as the name suggests, supporting the conservation of wildlife in the area, as well as promoting tourism, economic growth and goodwill between neighboring countries. The Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area, which straddles the borders of South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland, aims to meet these goals.
Up to 66 percent of the 4,195 square kilometer park lies within Mozambique, with 26 percent in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal province and the remainder in Swaziland. It occupies a low-lying coastal plain featuring extensive wetlands, with the Lebombo Mountains to the west and the Indian Ocean as its eastern border. An important feature of the Lubombo TFCA is that it allows herds of elephants the freedom to roam from Mozambique’s Maputo Elephant Reserve, through what is known as the Futi Corridor, to Swaziland’s Lubombo Conservancy and South Africa’s Tembe Elephant Park. In addition to woodland, grassland and swampland habitats, the area consists of unique sand forests – a diverse subtropical forest growing on ancient fossil dunes, with up to 30 of the more than 225 plant species growing there being endemic.
The Lubombo TFCA includes the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park – a World Heritage Site incorporating the continent’s southernmost coral reefs and largest estuarine system. Conservationists are working on extending World Heritage status to include the marine protected area of Mozambique. Other plans for the Lubombo TFCA are to eventually incorporate it into a huge Peace Park under the name of Greater Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area. This will consist of five TFCAs, namely Lubombo Conservancy-Goba Transfrontier Conservation Area; Usuthu-Tembe-Futi Transfrontier Conservation Area; Ponta do Ouro-Kosi Bay Transfrontier Conservation Area; Nsubane Pongola Transfrontier Conservation Area; and Songimvelo-Malolotja Transfrontier Conservation Area – all of which will overlap South Africa’s borders.
South Africa’s magnificent wildlife is a huge tourism draw-card, and Transfrontier conservation areas ensure that this precious resource is protected in its natural habitat, for today and for the future.