Contributed by Ngwane Dlamini, Mlawula Nature Reserve, 2008
The Lubombo Conservancy is an integral part of the greater Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area (LTFCA), which was formulated through a collective trilateral agreement between the governments of Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa. The core objective of the LTFCA is to form a larger eco-region conservation area incorporating all protected areas within the member states to ensure that ecosystems are all well managed, natural resources are utilised in a sustainable manner and to promote trans-boundary ecotourism development. The LTFCA incorporates different nature reserves, game reserves, forest parks and other conservation sanctuaries that are to be managed on a united front and form a neat continuous corridor of well managed natural resources.
In April 1999, with the support of the Peace Parks Foundation, Swaziland’s contributed to the LTFCA by forming the Lubombo Conservancy. After much consideration the Lubombo region, in the north-eastern part of Swaziland was identified as an ideal area to set up a single conservancy area that will cater to all the requirements of the LTFCA.
The Lubombo Conservancy
The Lubombo Conservancy comprises of five established reserves that include Mlawula Nature Reserve, Shewula Nature Reserve, Mbuluzi Game reserve, Hlane National Park and Inyoni Yami Swaziland Irrigation Scheme (IYSIS). The five conservation areas are hosts to the most extensive and historical conservation area within the Kingdom of Swaziland, with approximately 60 000 hectares of continuous block of land that can be utilised to enhance conservation efforts in the country.
The conservation areas fits perfectly into the core vision of the whole Lubombo Conservancy, which is to ‘facilitate the long term conservation of north-eastern Swaziland’s ecosystems through co-operative nature conservation management, coupled with the development of conservation based opportunities that would benefit and contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of all people in the region.’
The future aim of the Lubombo Conservancy is to establish one reserve where animals can freely roam between the reserves, without any hindrances from fences that separate the different conservation areas. This reserve will open up opportunities for visitors to enjoy easy access to harmonising big game, superb bird and mammal viewing amidst breathtaking scenery that the region offers.
The Conservancy is unique in that it combines national, private and community-owned reserves that have come together in a co-ordinated effort to ensure that there is proper and sustainable conservation of ecosystems, which also enhances the quality of life of people in this region. It cradles intrinsic values to the Swazi nation as it plays host to the annual ‘butimba’ (traditional hunting event), led by His Royal Excellence His Majesty King Mswati III. The Conservancy serves as an ideal place to engage in quality self-exploration, discovery and fulfillment ensuring that all visitors leave with a remarkable experience they will treasure for years to come. It offers numerous accommodation options for visitors ranging from thatched rest camps, campsites and tented bush camps, to private and community lodges. It is perfectly situated on the eastern route between the Kruger National Park and KwaZulu Natal, also providing an ideal stop en route to Mozambique.
Progress on the Conservancy is currently at an advanced state, which has seen the formulation of a managing committee that has been entrusted with co-ordinating all aspects attached to the conservancy. Numerous co-ordination reliant projects have been identified and implemented by the respective member conservancies, which have been put in place to capitalise fully on all the opportunities that the conservancy has to offer.
Mlawula Nature Reserve is dedicated to ensure that it plays its part in ensuring that the Conservancy is a resounding success that the whole region can be proud of. Facilities and resources at the reserve are more than thoroughly equipped to cater to all the needs that visitors who have the blessed opportunity to visit this truly unique reserve, housed in a Conservancy with a difference.
Detailed information on the Lubombo Conservancy can be accessed on the official website at www.lubomboconservancy.org.