Africa’s Largest Protected Marine Area Established

     More than 200 miles of shoreline and pristine beaches along Africa’s southeast coast are now protected.  The newly created Marine Protected Area is the largest such area in Africa, and it runs from southern Mozambique south into northeastern South Africa.      

     This international effort connects two existing reserves, Mozambique’s Maputo Special Reserve  and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in South Africa.  

     The Mozambique portion of the new Marine Protected Area is home to rare and endangered species, and to many mammals and ecosystems.  The area also includes sensitive breeding grounds of leatherback and loggerhead turtles, currently threatened by human encroachment and by uncontrolled harvesting of the  turtles’ eggs.  Southern Mozambique is also a major nursery for commercially important fish populations, with larvae and eggs carried in south-flowing currents into South Africa’s iSimangaliso Park.  

     iSimangaliso, translated as ‘miracle and wonder,’ encompasses three major lake systems and eight interlinking ecosystems.  The park also includes South Africa’s remaining swamp forests and the continent’s largest estuarine system.  iSimangaliso is home to more than 500 bird species.  And its 25,000 year old coastal dunes are some of the world’s highest. 

     The Marine Protected Area designation is vital to the preservation of southeastern Africa’s coastal ecosystems.  The new status means that such activities as using  explosives in fishing, fishing on coral reefs, industrial fishing, and driving motorized vehicles on the beaches will all be prohibited. 

     “All parties are to be congratulated on this transfrontier initiative which is desperately needed along a heavily exploited coastline, threatened under the weight of beach tourism,” according to the Zululand Wildlife eForum, a South African nonprofit organization.–April Moore

photo by John Nelson

photo by John Nelson

One Response to “Africa’s Largest Protected Marine Area Established”

  1. Gail Says:

    I love to play catch up on your blog. Read the postings I either ignored or wasn’t able to get get to when you made them. This particulr piece is so inspiring. Sometimes I think we are the only country fighting to preserve habitat, even tho I know it isn’t true.

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