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.


© Koos van der Lende
© Koos van der Lende
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.

IThe 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.

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.

Current Projects

© Brian Neubert
© Brian Neubert
In March, thanks to the excellent cross-border cooperation between the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve in Mozambique and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in South Africa, a gill net measuring 20 x 3 metres was removed from the ocean, where it had been trapping marine life.

At the end of September, the Maputo Special Reserve/Tembe Elephant Park management committee conducted an aerial census to determine the status of the large herbivore species in Maputo Special Reserve, with a focus on the species that had been reintroduced. The census was made possible thanks to funding from the National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and Peace Parks Foundation. In 2006, Peace Parks Foundation and ANAC signed a cooperation agreement to develop and manage Maputo Special Reserve.

The species found to be the most abundant in the reserve are hippo, reedbuck, elephant, grey duiker, red duiker, blue wildebeest and zebra, while the giraffe population is increasing steadily. The species with the most animals in the reserve remains reedbuck, with an estimated 2 611 individuals. Since 2015, blue wildebeest and zebra have increased from 276 to 351, and from 303 to 446 respectively. There are also an estimated 400 elephant, 750 hippo, 405 red duiker, 200 impala, 350 kudu, 100 warthog and 230 nyala in the reserve. While most reintroduced populations remain concentrated in the south of the reserve, they are beginning to disperse north and eastwards from their initial release locations.

As part of the Mozbio programme funded by the World Bank, a further 199 impala, 60 zebra and 60 wildebeest were translocated from Big Game Parks in Swaziland, and 204 waterbuck and 50 warthog from Gorongosa National Park, to Maputo Special Reserve in November. Altogether 1 628 animals have been brought into the reserve since 2010, in a multi-year endeavour supported by the governments of Mozambique and South Africa, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Peace Parks Foundation.

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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