At the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, thanks to the different ecosystemsthat are present, the geographical position and the morphological conformation of the territory, there are different habitats that, in turn, host many species of plants and animals, there are over 6500 species found here .
As far as animals are concerned, at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park there are 129 species of mammals, including land and sea, 525 species of birds, including aquatic, forest and birds of prey, 128 species of reptiles, 50 species of amphibians and 1039 species of fishof which 991 marine species and 48 river species.
Some of these species are threatened or at risk of extinction, it is estimated that there are 467 species that correspond to this category; moreover 11 endemic species to the iSymangaliso Wetlands Park and 108 endemic species to South Africa live here.
The iSimangaliso park is an important place for the reproduction of many species of birds, here also up to 20,000 greater flamingoes and 40,000 smaller lesser flamingoes gather periodically; there are also both species of African pelicans: the great white pelican and the pink-backed pelican.
One immediately understands the importance of this park in the conservation of flora and fauna, this is one of the reasons why UNESCO, in 1999, registered the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in the List of World Heritage Sites.
This park is less known than other parks and protected areas, such as the Kruger National Park in South Africa or the Okavango Delta in Botswana, but it also hosts many animal species.
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park has an area of 3320 sq km and protects a 220 km long stretch of coast in the province of KwaZulu-Natal; inside the iSimangaliso there are different areas, each with unique environmental and morphological characteristics, consequently each area has its own habitat and certain animal species can be found there.
Where to find animals at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park
The Eastern Shoreof the St Lucia Lake, is an area that presents different habitats and, consequently, different types of animals.
For example along the beaches of Cape Vidal nest two species of turtle, the leatherback turtles and the Loggerhead turtle, also you can see the humpback whales and the Southern right whales when they migrate to these waters, finally there is a wonderful coral reef that is home to many species of tropical fish, sharks, dolphins and the whale shark.
While at Mission Rocks there are many sea birds, such as gulls and cormorants, but also, in the coastal forest, several birds of prey such as, for example, the fish eagle; this forest offers shelter also to some species of mammals, among which the red duiker and the blue monkey.
But on the Eastern Shore there are also buffalos, spotted hyenas, rhinos, gray duikers, warthogs, giraffes, leopards and other mammals; there is no shortage of birds, in particular birds of prey and species typical of the forest.
Near the Bhangazi Lake, on the Eastern Shore as well, there are also buffalos, rhinos, elephants, cheetahs and many water birds, such as geese, ducks, herons, pelicans and many others; many of these birds nest right here at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
The St Lucia Lake, on the other hand, is home to many hippos and several Nile crocodiles, and along its banks, where papyrus, reeds and other marsh plants are found, there are many species of water birds, such as herons, ducks and cormorants but also other birds such as weavers, kingfishers and other species, that live near water or marshy areas.
The Western Shoreof the St Lucia Lake, with its grassy expanses and wild flowers and a portion of forest, is home to several mammals including giraffes, elephants, leopards and various species of antelope; moreover, at Charter Creek and False Bay, that overlook the St Lucia Lake, there are many water and forest birds.
At Sodwana Bay there is a wonderful coral reef, where many tropical fish live; also here, as at Cape Vidal, you can spot turtles, that lay eggs, and whales, when they come here from Antarctica to give birth.
The coral reef is also present at Kosi Bay and there are 150 species of marine fish.
At the Sibaya Lake, at the Maputaland Reserve there are about 150 hippos and several water birds, and thanks to the forest that grows on the surrounding dunes, there are also several woodland birds and many birds of prey.
At the uMkhuze Game Reserve, the favorite area for those who love safaris, there are 420 species of birds, both aquatic, rapacious and forest ones; furthermore there are lions, wild dogs, impalas, elephants, giraffes, leopards, cheetahs, nyalas, kudus, zebras, warthogs, spotted hyenas and other mammals, finally, in the uMkhuze river, there are Nile crocodiles and hippos.