Today, we are excited to announce that World Land Trust (WLT) will be joining forces with a new conservation partner to secure a wildlife corridor between two large protected areas on South Africa’s ‘Elephant Coast’.
In this new partnership with Wild Tomorrow Fund (WTF), WLT Action Fund supporters will not only be helping to protect crucial migratory routes for African Elephant, but for the first time in WLT history you will be able to help safeguard populations of Giraffe by expanding their home in WTF’s Greater Ukuwela Nature Reserve.
Ukuwela is located on South Africa’s northeastern KwaZulu-Natal Province and will connect the 69,000-acre (28,000 ha) MunYaWana Conservancy with the 820,000-acre (332,000 ha) iSimangaliso UNESCO World Heritage Wetland Park. Funding from WLT’s Action Fund supporters will secure 318 acres (129 ha) within the reserve – and such support has come at a critical time.
Last summer, WTF were facing the possibility of losing this land, with a deadline of just one year left to get the funds together. Thankfully, donations to our Action Fund meant WLT was able to step in and help our new partner obtain sufficient funds before it was too late.
Securing the gap for South Africa’s wildlife before it’s too late
This latest WLT project will help to create a single contiguous protected landscape from the Indian Ocean to the Lebombo Mountains, connecting MunYaWana and iSimangaliso. This land was once earmarked for pineapple production but now that it has been protected, our partner’s vision for this vital corridor is to secure the genetic viability of the region’s wildlife, including populations of Zebra, Lion, Leopard, African Elephant, Cheetah, Painted Dog, and the Critically Endangered Black Rhino.
The Greater Ukuwela Nature Reserve is located in an area globally recognised for its extensive biodiversity. It falls within both the Maputaland Centre for Plant Endemism and the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Biodiversity Hotspot. It features a mixture of woodland, grassland and wetland habitats, along with freshwater springs and forest interspersed with rivers, marshes and pans. It also includes remnant patches of the Dry Sand Forest, which is the most endangered forest ecosystem in South Africa and one of the rarest subtropical forests in the world.
Over 1,200 species have been recorded in the reserve, including the Giant Sansevieria plant which is classified as Critically Rare in South Africa. The corridor’s floodplains and wetlands will expand habitat for South Africa’s largest population of Hippopotamus, as well as Nile Crocodile and 31 threatened bird species. The nearby community of Mduku utilise an unfenced floodplain section for fishing, cattle grazing, and reed and water collection.
New partnership to help conservation, communities and climate in South Africa
WTF was founded in 2015 by John Steward, a former advertising agency director who decided to swap the corporate world for conservation following a volunteering trip to South Africa. The South African not-for-profit was then registered a year later.
Community work is also at the heart of WTF. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, WTF delivered 480 food parcels which each fed a family of four for a month. Food continues to be provided to a smaller number of families, an orphanage, and the two rural community preschools that our partner supports. WTF have also created jobs for the communities around their reserve, employing a field team of 14 women named the “Green Mambas” as well as 10 local rangers.
In his words, John wanted to “provide compassionate people around the world a way to make positive, long-lasting change”. WTF have certainly made good on that goal by protecting 3,170 acres (1,283 ha) of habitat at their Greater Ukuwela Nature Reserve, which was successfully designated in June 2021.
We’re delighted to welcome Wild Tomorrow Fund to our growing network of conservation partners, and we can’t wait to start making a difference together for South Africa’s wildlife.
We would like to thank our Action Fund supporters for making this project a reality and allowing us to accomplish something incredible with our newest partner. Make sure to sign up to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for the latest updates on Ukuwela and all other habitats saved with help from Action Fund donations.
If you have yet to support our Action Fund, you could play a part in conservation victories like Ukuwela in South Africa. Donate today to join other Action Fund supporters – together we will deliver our partners’ most urgent projects, from reserve expansions to anti-fire kit and more.