Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area

Latest News9 January 2017

Conscious Conservation

© Brian Neubert
© Brian Neubert

Without fanfare, a conservation success story is unfolding just over the border in southern Mozambique. If you are a lover of wild places, this may just be the best kept secret in southern Africa. read more


Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area includes four distinct transfrontier conservation areas between Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland, covering a total area of 10 029km2.cheapmenswatches

  • Lubombo Conservancy-Goba-Usuthu-Tembe-Futi TFCA (Mozambique/ South Africa/Swaziland)
  • Ponta do Ouro-Kosi Bay TFCA (Mozambique/South Africa)
  • Nsubane-Pongola TFCA (South Africa/Swaziland)
  • Songimvelo-Malolotja TFCA (South Africa/Swaziland)
Globally it is one of the most striking areas of biodiversity and lies in the Maputaland Centre of Endemism. It also includes five Ramsar sites: Ndumo Game Reserve, the Kosi Bay System, Lake Sibaya, the Turtle Beaches and Coral Reefs of Tongaland, and Lake St Lucia, which at 350km² is the largest estuary in Africa.
© Koos van der Lende
© Koos van der Lende
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.
Of the four sub-TFCAs, Peace Parks Foundation’s work has been concentrated on the Mozambican sections of the Usuthu-Tembe-Futi TFCA and Africa's first Marine TFCA, the Ponta do Ouro-Kosi Bay TFCA.©


© Andrea Borgarello, World Bank
© Andrea Borgarello, World Bank
Lubombo boasts the first marine transfrontier conservation area (TFCA) in Africa, the Ponta do Ouro-Kosi Bay TFCA, where Mozambique's Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve turtle monitoring programme links up with the one across the border in South Africa's iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Community members are appointed as turtle monitors, annual training is provided, and daily patrols are conducted during turtle nesting and hatching season between October and April. Turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs are checked, measured and tagged on this protected coastline that is a haven for the critically endangered leatherback and critically endangered loggerhead sea turtles.

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 2009. As part of Africa's first marine TFCA, the marine reserve's turtle monitoring programme links up with that of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site proclaimed in 1999.

The establishment of Lubombo will also reunite the last naturally occurring elephant populations of KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique, which historically moved freely across the border along the Futi system and Rio Maputo floodplains.

On 14 June 2011 – in one of the Lubombo TFCA’s most important developments – the Mozambican government proclaimed the Futi Corridor as an extension of Maputo Special Reserve, thereby expanding the reserve by 24 000 ha. Only the international border fence between Mozambique and South Africa now separates Maputo Special Reserve from Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa.

Current Projects

Zebra roaming free in Maputo Special Reserve. Photo by Werner Myburgh
Zebra roaming free in Maputo Special Reserve. Photo by Werner Myburgh
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 in South Africa and in Mozambique.

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