Africa’s largest estuarine system sustains an awe-inspiring ecosystem
The heart of the miracle
Lake St Lucia owns a sense of place like no other – one of the most abundant, naturally-endowed and beautiful pieces of real estate on earth. If the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a miracle (which ‘iSimangaliso’ translates to from the Zulu) then the Lake is the heart that sustains that miracle. It is the focal point of the UNESCO World Heritage Listing and has been a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance since 1986. It is 80km long and 23km at its widest point.
Sustaining life, in abundance
Aside from the lake and dune ecosystems, the Park protects a marine zone of warm tropical seas, coral reefs and endless sandy beaches; the papyrus and reed wetland of the uMkhuze swamps, on the north of the lake; and, on the western shore, dry savannah and thornveld. Any one of these would justify conservation, but their confluence around the Lake St Lucia makes this a world-class wilderness.
More than 50% of all water birds in KwaZulu-Natal feed, roost and nest in this Estuary. Of the 155 fish species that have been recorded in the Lake St Lucia estuarine system, 71 species use Lake St Lucia as a nursery area – and at least 24 of these are important in marine line fisheries. More than 2 180 species of flowering plants have been documented here and it is home to many species of antelope such as waterbuck, reedbuck, kudu, nyala, impala and duiker.