The uMkhuze Game Reserve is part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park; this reserve, despite its small size, contains different habitats.
It is one of the oldest reserves in South Africa, was established in 1912, it occupies an area of 400 square kilometers and it is a paradise for birdwatchers and photo safaris.
Here you can spot 420 species of birds and all the Big 5, namely lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes and rhinos, and there are also rare species, such as cheetahs and wild dogs.
The views are also spectacular, the uMkhuze River offers excitement, especially at sunset, and also excellent sightings, especially of water birds, hippos and Nile crocodiles, that can be observed by different sighting huts.
In the park there is also a portion of savannah of acacias, pans and a river forest.
The river forest, the Sycamore Fig Forest, as well as hosting different species of mammals and birds, it has tall trees, such as the sycamore figs, that are sacred trees for the local populations; some specimens are over 400 years old and have a circumference of 12 meters, their sweet fruits are the favorite by many animals.
The Fig Forest Walk, a path that goes into the forest, is made up of paths and bridges and wooden walkways and a wooden watchtower.
This route cannot be traveled alone, but it is essential to be accompanied by an armed guide, for safety reasons; theoretically in fact here you can meet all the animals that are present in the reserve.
The Fig Forest Walk is the preferred route for birdwatchers who venture into the forest in search of species of forest birds, such as the silvery-cheeked hornbill and the Narita trogon.
Even the observation hides are perfect for birdwatchers and also for those who want to admire nature and its animals without disturbing them.
The best known observation hides, and from where one has the possibility of making excellent sightings and photographic shots, are: the kuMahlala Hide and the kuMasinga Hide, here, throughout the day, you can admire herbivores that go to drinking and water birds; also the hide at iNsumo Pan gives emotions, from here one can admire the hippos, the Nile crocodiles and many species of birds, including one of the two breeding colonies of pink-backed pelikans present in South Africa.
In the uMkhuze Game Reserve the lions have recently been reintroduced, this was a project that, before being implemented, has been studied in detail and, now that the pack of lions lives in the reserve, their interactions and their movements are monitored and studied.
The first group of lions to have been introduced consisted of a lioness and her three male sub-adult cubs; they were relocated here from the Tembe Elephant Park, situated on the border with Mozambique, in December 2013.
On April 2014, two young lion males also arrived, followed, a few weeks later, by three lionesses.
The reintroduction of the lions had a positive outcome and results took not long time in showing: the first puppies were born, that increased the number of lions present in the uMkhuze Reserve.
In 2016, another three male lions were introduced, that came from the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, an exclusive reserve located in the North-Western part of South Africa; the reason why other male lions were introduced is simple: it was necessary to bring new genes into the group of lions to reinforce the lineage.
Even today the key components of lion herds are constantly monitored with the radio collar, connected to the satellite, to study their movements.