Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area

Park Development

© Claire Binneman
© Claire Binneman
On 22 June 2000, four protocols were signed to establish the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area. The inclusion of a fifth component, the Songimvelo-Malolotja TFCA and the incorporation of Swaziland into the Usuthu-Tembe-Futi TFCA were formally approved at a trilateral ministerial meeting in 2004.

In March 2014, the Lubombo Commission decided to merge the Lubombo Conservancy-Goba TFCA with the Usuthu-Tembe-Futi TFCA, linking the Lebombo Mountain Ecosystem with the coastal plains. This decision, based on landscape-planning and ecosystems considerations, will streamline institutional arrangements and also benefit the communities in Swaziland. The new boundary reflects an initial consolidation phase and will focus on three core transboundary areas:
  • Maputo Special Reserve-Tembe Elephant Park-Bekhula-Tsanini Community Conservation Area
  • Catuane-Ndumo Game Reserve-Usuthu Gorge Community Conservation Area-Mambane Community Conservation Area
  • Goba-Lubombo conservancies.
Prior to the signing of the protocols, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in the Ponta do Ouro-Kosi Bay TFCA was proclaimed a World Heritage Site in November 1999. The site is the largest estuarine system in Africa and includes the southernmost extension of coral reefs on the continent. Efforts are ongoing to extend the existing World Heritage Site northwards to encompass the Mozambican section of the TFCA, which includes a marine protected area.
In 2009 the eastern boundary of Maputo Special Reserve was proclaimed as the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve, stretching from Ponta do Ouro in the south to the Maputo River Mouth in Maputo Bay in the north and including Inhaca and Portuguese islands. The marine reserve’s rich diversity of marine life includes loggerhead and leatherback turtles, which have been carefully monitored since 2007. As part of Africa's first marine TFCA, the marine teserve's turtle monitoring programme links up with that of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

In 2010, in order to develop a tourism product for Maputo Special Reserve, the Mozambique government, with the kind support and generosity of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, began a wildlife restocking programme, funded by Virgin Unite and the COmON Foundation via Peace Parks Foundation.

On 14 June 2011 the Futi Corridor was proclaimed as an extension of Maputo Special Reserve, thereby expanding it by 24 000 ha. Mr Fernando Sumbana, Minister of Tourism of Mozambique said at the time: “One of the main reasons for establishing the Lubombo TFCA has always been to reunite the last naturally occurring coastal elephant population in Southern Africa, which historically moved freely along the Futi River and Rio Maputo floodplains. With the proclamation of Futi Corridor as a protected area, reuniting these elephants, creating a tourism product and benefitting communities, is set to become a reality.” Only the international border fence now separates Maputo Special Reserve from Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa.

In 2014, a joint operations strategy for the Maputo Special Reserve / Tembe Elephant Park component was signed into force by the relevant authorities and approved by the Lubombo Commission. The strategy called for the formation of a park management committee, which was formally established in July 2014.
© Claire Binneman
© Claire Binneman
The first phase of wildlife translocations to Mozambique’s Maputo Special Reserve was concluded in September 2015, with the introduction of 87 zebra and 119 blue wildebeest. As part of developing the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area, the governments of Mozambique and South Africa, with support from Peace Parks Foundation, began a wildlife translocation programme to Maputo Special Reserve in 2010. The translocations reintroduce animals that were historically found in the area to enable the fast recovery and subsequent increase of the reserve’s wildlife populations. This is essential to developing the reserve as a tourist destination.

This multi-year endeavour has been made possible thanks to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s donation, capture and transportation of wildlife from reserves in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, to Maputo Special Reserve in Mozambique. In total, 1 115 animals have been translocated since 2010, including kudu, warthog, impala, nyala, zebra, giraffe and blue wildebeest. In 2014, the Maputo Special Reserve / Tembe Elephant Park committee oversaw the aerial census for Maputo Special Reserve, which was conducted in collaboration with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife staff based in Tembe Elephant Park. The census indicated that the introduced populations are steadily increasing.

In August 2015, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, the management of the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve and Peace Parks Foundation entered into an agreement to conduct a multi-sectoral study. The aim of this study, which will encompass the coastal areas of Mozambique and South Africa in the Ponta do Ouro-Kosi Bay TFCA, is to assess the impact and threats posed by large development projects in the TFCA.

The Maputo Special Reserve / Tembe Elephant Park management committee continued its collaboration on the implementation of the joint operations strategy and matters of mutual interest.

A number of exciting projects are taking place to develop Maputo Special Reserve and the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve, all the while benefiting local communities. Maputo Special Reserve also has a community development facility.