Tourism - in many places the only creator of sustainable employment, is
practised with enthusiasm and great success by the organisation right
across the province. With some of the finest game lodges in South Africa
thousands of tourists visit the region bringing direct and indirect benefits
to its many people
Zululand is where three of
Africa's oldest game reserves are to be found, the custodians, Ezemvelo
KZN Wildlife, formaly known as the Natal Parks Board and KwaZulu
Dept of Natural Resources, which have joined since South Africa's
democracy, are renowned for their world-famous conservation strategy which
pulled the white rhino back from the brink of extinction in "Operation
Rhino" and are recognised by the World Conservation Union,
one of the world's most effective protected area management bodies
The Zululand and Maputaland
reserves provide world-class tourist attractions which combine a traditional
wild animal and bush experience with the marine attractions of a relatively
unspoiled coastline. The region boasts South Africa's first
natural World Heritage site, The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park as well
as a the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park where World Heritage Site status
has been awarded for meeting both the natural and cultural criteria, one
of 22 such sites in the World.
Though the future of the
game reserves looks bright now, these recent achievements follow a long
history of struggle.
From around 1840, when Mpande
became the Zulu monarch, an influx of sport and commercial hunters plundered
the area's wildlife resources for skins, ivory and rhino horn. Hundreds
of thousands of wild animals were shot, and in less than 50 years, many
species were heading for extinction.
By 1890, possibly only
20 white rhino survived in the bush around Imfolozi / Umfolozi, their
last stronghold on earth. In 1895, the Hluhluwe, Umfolozi and St Lucia
reserves received formal protection from the Natal Colonial Government.
Despite this protection the persecution of wildlife in Zululand persisted
for decades because of outbreaks of nagana (sleeping sickness) a trypanosome
spread by the Tsetse fly, among cattle in neighbouring ranchlands.
The St Lucia area was not
immune to human interference either. Here, large tracts of land were turned
over to the forestry department and blanketed with exotic pine trees.
The military set up a test base from where it fired missiles across the
Lake, and more recently, the Richards Bay Minerals company proposed mining
the coastal dunes of the eastern shores of Lake St Lucia for their rich
deposits of heavy metals.
Today, the Zululand reserves
contain some of the largest concentrations of black and white rhino anywhere
in the world, thanks to the Natal Parks Board's NPB (now Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
of the KZN Nature Conservation Service) success in protecting the white
Every year, hundreds of wild
animals are sold at the NCS Game Auction. The Nature Conservation
Service claims it is the biggest wildlife auction in the world and is
used primarily to stock private game reserves.
The region is also rich in
birdlife notably at the Ndumo game reserve on the Mozambique border, Mkhuze
Mkuze Game Reserve and Lake St Lucia with its migratory species.