Celebrating World Wetlands Day at Lake Sibaya

Feb 2, 2016 Conservation
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It’s World Wetlands Day and we couldn’t be more delighted to introduce you to South Africa’s largest natural freshwater body of water, Lake Sibaya in KwaZulu-Natal’s iSimangaliso Wetland Park…

Guests staying at Rocktail Camp in the pristine Maputaland area of South Africa’s northern KwaZulu-Natal province have the opportunity to take an afternoon drive out to Lake Sibaya – which culminates in a very special sundowner setting. The route meanders through the surrounding community lands so you also have the opportunity to observe authentic aspects of Zulu and Tsonga culture through the local residents’ architecture, food and traditional lifestyles.

Formerly the mouth of a river that flowed into the Indian Ocean, Lake Sibaya is popularly known as one of the jewels of wild and beautiful iSimangaliso (which means ‘miracle’ in isiZulu), one of South Africa’s World Heritage Sites.

Thanks to its location within the conservation area, Sibaya is considered near pristine, boasting 100 km of unspoilt shoreline. To quote South African Tourism, “[Lake Sibaya] has been cut off from the ocean for so long that certain fish that were marine in origin have evolved to become unique freshwater specimens and are near-endemics. There are many interesting cichlids and gobies, along with various tilapias and mouthbrooders.”

But don’t try swimming in Lake Sibaya, the hippo and crocodile populations might express their objections!

Speaking of hippos and crocodiles, their numbers have decreased over the years, principally due to poaching while cultivation of the marginal lands around the perimeter of the lake is also cause for concern given the potential for erosion and pollution. Education programmes through Children in the Wilderness are in place to ensure that the surrounding communities understand the need to protect their vulnerable fauna and flora species.

Also as part of our 4Cs work in Maputaland, Rocktail pays a conservation fee to iSimangaliso while our Wilderness Trust has also contributed financially to the wetland’s conservation projects ever since our original camp, Rocktail Bay Lodge, was first established.

Given that this year’s theme is Wetlands for our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods, we’re confident that through these concerted conservation efforts, Lake Sibaya’s ‘livelihood’ is in safe hands indeed.


What is a Wetland? 

Definition: A wetland is an area that is saturated in water, either permanently or seasonally, such as a swamp or marsh.

World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on 2 February. This date marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on  2 February 1971.

This day was first celebrated on the 2nd of February 1997.

Dive the Wilderness: Experience diving at Rocktail Camp...

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By Josephine Bestic

With a background in wildlife and conservation publishing, copywriter and digital marketer Jo has found her niche happily managing the content for Wilderness Safaris’ social media accounts.

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Katherine Evans  Feb 3, 2016

I've never been to these parts. One day I would like to because it sounds very special