iSimangaliso’s wild town
One of the absolute privileges of living in or visiting the Lake St Lucia Estuary section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is the abundance of wildlife that roams freely throughout the estuarine forests bordering the village of St Lucia. Entirely surrounded by the World Heritage Site’s dense vegetation, red duiker, bushbuck, mongoose, crocodiles, vervet monkeys, waterbuck and a myriad birds are permanent residents. Hippos are a nightly, and often daily, sight on the verges, gardens and streets of the popular holiday destination. From time to time hyaena roam under cover of darkness, their calls frequently punctuating the night. And while leopard are less frequently seen, their presence is well known. To prove the point, St Lucia resident Larina Joubert caught a photo of an elusive leopard on the town’s streets a few days ago, which she shared on Facebook. These are just a few of the varied animals that one may freely spot without even entering the gates of the Park.
“Our magnificent wildlife is one of the greatest draw cards to this southern section of the World Heritage Site,” says iSimangaliso CEO Andrew Zaloumis. “There are few towns in the world with such a combination of warm ocean, golden beaches and prolific birds and wild animals peacefully cohabiting with human residents and visitors. It is truly iconic.”
“However”, he adds, “with a predominantly international visitor population, especially at this time of year, as well as animals seeking their natural food close to human habitation in the leaner winter months, we remind visitors to be very vigilant when walking in town or in the forested areas to avoid any negative encounters. Wild animals have lived here since time immemorial. They remain wild and are potentially dangerous, defending their territory and young. The rule of thumb is to give them as wide a berth as possible, whether on foot or in a vehicle. Be especially aware of hippo and if you must walk in town at night use a powerful torch. Do not at any time be tempted to enter the estuary water. It is the crocodile you can’t see that poses the greatest risk.”
We also greatly appreciate the eyes and ears of townspeople aiding our conservation efforts by being protectors of our heritage. Any potentially dangerous or unlawful situations, snares, feeding of wildlife or provocation of animals should be reported immediately to our 24-hour emergency line 082 797 7944. We wish all of our holiday makers a wonderful, exciting and above all, safe visit to our Park.