iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site
Parc de la zone humide d’iSimangaliso, South Africa
MARINE PROTECTED AREA
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iSimangaliso Wetland Park is situated on the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa about 275 kilometres north of Durban. It is South Africa's third-largest protected area, spanning 280 km of coastline, from the Mozambican border in the north to Mapelane south of the St Lucia estuary, and made up of around 3,280 km² of pristine natural ecosystems, managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. The park includes the:
The park was previously known as the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, but was renamed effective from 1 November 2007. The word 'isimangaliso' is Zulu for 'a marvel'.
The Park is due to be integrated into a transfrontier park, the Ponta do Ouro-Kosi Bay Transfrontier Conservation Area, straddling South Africa, Mozambique, and Swaziland. This is in turn planned to become a part of the greater Greater Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area.
In the northern part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park you will find Kosi Bay. It has an interesting history and even today it is unique.
St. Lucia was first named in 1554 as "Rio de la Medaos do Oura" ("River of the Dows of Gold") by the survivors of the Portuguese ship Saint Benedict. At this stage, only the Tugela River mouth was known as St. Lucia. Later, in 1575, the Tugela River was named Tugela. On 13 December 1575, the day of the feast of Saint Lucy, Manuel Peresterello renamed the mouth area to Santa Lucia.
The iSimangaliso Wetlands Park was declared a world heritage site in 1999 at an unveiling ceremony where Nelson Mandela was guest of honor. The park was proclaimed a world heritage site because of the huge biodiversity occurring in a relatively small area. The reason for the huge diversity in fauna and flora is the great variety in different ecosystems on the park, ranging from coral reefs and sandy beaches to subtropical dune forests, savannas and wetlands. Animals occurring on the park include elephants, leopard, black and white rhino, buffalo, and in the ocean, whales, dolphins, and marine turtles including the leatherback and loggerhead turtle.
There are large outcroppings of underwater reefs which are home to brightly coloured fish and corals. Some of the most spectacular coral diversity in the world is located in Sodwana Bay. The reefs are inhabited by colour-changing octopi and squid ready to ambush unsuspecting prey. Occasionally gigantic whale sharks can be seen gliding through the water; mouth agape to scoop up tiny plankton.
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