Other Protected Areas - Private Reserves - Phophonyane Falls Nature Reserve

The nature reserve is part of the 600 ha Phophonyane Conservancy in the mountainous north-west of Swaziland. The conservancy falls within the Barberton Centre of Endemism,an area of global biodiversity significance. The rich biodiversity of the reserve can be partly attributed to its geographical location in the Swaziland middleveld, blending fauna and flora from both the Highveld and lowveld. Middleveld woodland is also an increasingly rare habitat, making way to forestry and smallholder agriculture.

The central feature of the reserve is the Phophonyane Falls, a series of cascades and waterfalls which stretches for 3 kilometres and bisects the reserve along the geologically remarkable Phophonyane Shear Zone. The shear zone is the boundary between two continental blocks representing different environments within the earth’s crust. The boundary runs parallel to the Phophonyane River and separates the Barberton Greenstone Belt from the Ancient Gneiss complex. These rocks are some of the oldest rocks in the world and range from 3.2 to 3.55 billion years old. The term “Shear Zone” is used because a shear zone is essentially a tectonic fault which occurs sufficiently deep within the Earth’s crust, and with sufficient heat, to make rock deform in a ductile manner – like toothpaste. This is exposed in a spectacular fashion along the Phophonyane Falls.

The other main features of the reserve are the dramatic Python Cliffs which are formed of a large granite outcrop and the Mbevane Falls and stream which are bordered by an impressive remnant of climax riverine forest.

There is a network of well-maintained trails leading to spectacular views that sweep away to the mountain ranges of Gobolondo and Makhonjwa and to Lake Matsamo in the distant horizon.

More than 400 species of trees and 250 species of birds are found in the reserve and numerous species of mammals and reptiles. Notable among the bird species commonly seen and heard, are the narina trogon, gorgeous bush shrike, pink-throated twinspot, crowned hornbill, wood owl and crowned eagle.

More than 400 species of trees and 250 species of birds are found in the reserve and numerous species of mammals and reptiles. Notable among the bird species commonly seen and heard, are the narina trogon, gorgeous bush shrike, pink-throated twinspot, crowned hornbill, wood owl and crowned eagle.

The riverine forest is made up of the Forest Fever Tree (Anthocleista grandiflora), Matumi or African Teak (Breonadia salicina), Waterberry (Syzygium cordatum), Forest Fig ( Ficus craterstoma), Stamvrug (Englerophytum magalismontanum), Zulu Milkberry (Mimusops concolor) and Pompom Tree (Dais continifolia). Eight orchid species have been identified along the Mbevane Stream. Woodland areas are made up of various bushwillow species (Combretum erythrophyllum, c. edwarsii, C. molle, C. apiculatum, C. zeyheri, C.kraussii), Coral Tree (Erythrina latissima), Mitzeeri (Bridelia micrantha), Weeping and Forest Lavender (Heteropyxsis natalensis, and H. canescens), Tree Fuchsia (Halleria lucida), Forest Silver Oak (Brachylaena transvaalensis), Cabbage Tree (Cussonia spicata, C. natalensis. C. sphaerocephala), Stinkwood (Celtis africana), Small Knobwood (Zanthoxylum capense), Willow Beechwood (Faurea saligna), interspersed with groves of Lowveld Chestnut (Sterculia murex) and stands of Common Wild Fig (Ficus burkei) along the dry stream beds.

The riverine forest is made up of the Forest Fever Tree (Anthocleista grandiflora), Matumi or African Teak (Breonadia salicina), Waterberry (Syzygium cordatum), Forest Fig ( Ficus craterstoma), Stamvrug (Englerophytum magalismontanum), Zulu Milkberry (Mimusops concolor) and Pompom Tree (Dais continifolia). Eight orchid species have been identified along the Mbevane Stream. Woodland areas are made up of various bushwillow species (Combretum erythrophyllum, c. edwarsii, C. molle, C. apiculatum, C. zeyheri, C.kraussii), Coral Tree (Erythrina latissima), Mitzeeri (Bridelia micrantha), Weeping and Forest Lavender (Heteropyxsis natalensis, and H. canescens), Tree Fuchsia (Halleria lucida), Forest Silver Oak (Brachylaena transvaalensis), Cabbage Tree (Cussonia spicata, C. natalensis. C. sphaerocephala), Stinkwood (Celtis africana), Small Knobwood (Zanthoxylum capense), Willow Beechwood (Faurea saligna), interspersed with groves of Lowveld Chestnut (Sterculia murex) and stands of Common Wild Fig (Ficus burkei) along the dry stream beds.

Rock outcrops are found throughout the reservewith various species of aloes (Aloe aborescens, A. marlothi, A. dyeri, and A. spicata), Red-leaved Fig (Ficus ingens), Hairy Rock Fig (Ficus glumosa) and Kiaat (Pterocarpus anglolensis).

Website: www.phoponyane.co.sz

Phone: Office +268 2431 3409, Reception +268 2431 3429, fax +268 2431 3319

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  • (+268) 2416 1875
  • ksmp@sntc.org.sz

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    Swaziland National Trust Commission Headquarters

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    P.O. Box 100
    Lobamba, Mbabane
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  • (+268) 2416 1489/1179/3351
  • info@sntc.org.sz