Think you’ve seen all the reserves in KwaZulu-Natal? Well there’s a brand new one to check out.
The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) announced on Tuesday that the uMngeni Valley in the KZN’s Midlands has finally received official nature reserve status.
It has taken the organisation seven years of legislative rigmarole to receive protection for the area, an important habitat zone for Howick.
The reserve has a 900-hectare region, starting at the base of Howick Falls following the uMngeni River.
Due to the various altitudinal gradients of the area, there are a wide variety of habitat types. These include Midlands Mistbelt Grassland, KZN Hinterland Thornveld, Southern KZN Moist Grassland, forest patches, riverine thicket, sub-tropical thicket and thornveld savannah.
uMngeni also covers a river catchment that’s vital for the province, as well as the Karkloof River Catchments that range from Midmar Dam to Nagle Dam.
The valley also holds significant cultural and historical significance important to tourism, including several graves and Iron Age sites.
WESSA will continue with the management of the new reserve, with larger focus and protection from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the Department of Environmental Affairs, and other government entities for increased protection of this ecosystem.
They hope to build on ecotourism initiatives to grow visitor numbers to uMngeni, as well as revive the uMngeni Biosphere Reserve project which could attract more funding for conservation and biodiversity protection.
At the moment, there is self-catering accommodation in the reserve which includes a choice of 3-star graded cottages and chalets, rustic cottages and bush camps.
On offer are diverse walking trails and mountain biking routes, guided walks (including stargazing and full moon walks), adventure activities and a variety of animals and birds.
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