Greater Mapungubwe


Echoing with the voices of civilizations long gone

Situated at the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo Rivers, Mapungubwe was once the center of civilisation in the south with evidence of the oldest modern capital city in southern Africa with over 5 000 inhabitants living there at its peak (±1 100 AD).

Yet today it is populations of lion, leopard, cheetah, spotted hyena, various ungulates and the population of over 900 elephant in Botswana’s Northern Tuli Game Reserve that call this vast savannah biome home.

The Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area measures 5 909 km2 and encompassies areas in three countries – Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Transfrontier Conservation Area

Transfrontier Conservation Area

National Park

National Park

Protected Area

Protected Area

Country Border

Country Border


The development of Greater Mapungubwe is planned in phases as the big vision for the TFCA involves the integration of numerous properties and parks that cannot all be acquired and assimilated simultaneously.


The Botswana component encompasses the Northern Tuli Game Reserve (Notugre), an association of private landowners who have agreed to remove the fences that separate their properties and to jointly manage wildlife resources. Notugre presently embraces 36 farms with a combined area of 70 000 hectares. It is renowned for its Tuli elephants, the largest elephant population on private land in Africa.


The South African component comprises a complex mosaic of private land, state-owned land and national parks. South African National Parks (SANParks) with the assistance of the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd, the National Parks Trust and Peace Parks Foundation, has since 1998 been involved in land purchases to create the Mapungubwe National Park. The park was officially opened in 2004 and includes 18 properties of 25 800 hectares in total.


The Zimbabwe component comprises the Tuli Circle Safari Area covering an area of 41 100 hectares. This area is contiguous with the northern end of Notugre and has no physical barriers to impede the movement of wildlife. Sentinel Ranch, Nottingham Estate, Maramani Communal Land and the Machachuta, Masera and River Ranch Resettlement Areas will also be included in the TFCA.



The idea to establish the TFCA is mooted.


First formal planning meeting involving government officials and stakeholders from the three countries.

31 AUGUST 2001

The draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is approved by a trilateral planning committee and forwarded to the respective governments for their consideration.


The Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape was approved to be added to the World Heritage List.

22 JUNE 2006

MoU signalling the intent to establish and develop the Limpopo/Shashe TFCA is signed and an international coordinator appointed.

19 June 2009

Limpopo/Shashe TFCA was renamed the Greater Mapungubwe TFCA


South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs, SANParks and Coal of Africa signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) to ensure responsible mining operations adjacent to Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site.


The Greater Mapungubwe TFCA resource management committee is formed to deal with cross-border challenges such as border safety and security, veterinary concerns and other joint management matters at an operational level.


A biodiversity offset agreement is signed by the Department of Environmental Affairs, SANParks and Coal of Africa for Vele Colliery, whereby the mine’s development will benefit the environment.


Following joint training efforts, rangers and resource managers from all three partner countries agree to enhancing cross-border communication and collaboration through chat groups, information-sharing and informal gatherings.


The trilateral technical committee endorses a joint operations strategy for the TFCA.


A badge showing the flags of all three countries is introduced on the uniforms of field staff and rangers to represent their ongoing commitment to the TFCA concept.

Cultural Heritage

Containing some of the oldest examples of the start of the Iron Age, and evidence of complex societies dating back 1,000 years, as well as numerous San rock paintings and engravings (petroglyphs) of more than 10,000 years, the TFCA and its Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape World Heritage site makes a significant cultural historical contribution to Southern Africa. The similarity of ivory objects, pottery remains and imported glass beads excavated at different sites that spread across the modern international boundaries of Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe attests to the cultural affinity of the people that lived in the Limpopo-Shashe basin during the Iron Age. Additional features of cultural importance in the Limpopo Valley are the fossilised dinosaur footprints and skeletal remains of the dinosaur Massospondylus carinatus which became extinct approximately 65 million years ago.

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Mapungubwe is renowned for the famous gold rhino – a symbol of the power of the King of the Mapungubwe people who inhabited the Limpopo river valley between 900 AD and 1300 AD.

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