|Earth's Natural Wonders in
0' 0" S, 32° 30' 0"
|Depth of Lake
St. Lucia- seldom more than 6
|Area of wetland-115
sq. miles (300 sq. km)
|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
|UNESCO World Heritage Site
Wetland Park 
Park is situated on the east coast
of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa about
275 kilometres north of Durban (28°0'S
32°30'E / 28°S 32.5°E
/ -28; 32.5). 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
St Lucia Game Reserve, False Bay Park,
St Lucia Marine Reserve, Sodwana Bay
National Park, Maputaland Marine Reserve,
Cape Vidal, Ozabeni, Mfabeni, Tewate
Wilderness Area and Mkuze Game Reserve.
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'.
Like many tidal estuaries, the park
has diverse wildlife reflecting the
concentration of diverse ecosystems
created by variations in the degree
of salinity from season to season,
year to year, and location to location
within the park. The estuary is the
largest in Africa and boasts, among
other attractions, the world's largest
forested sand dunes, which reach up
to 180 m (600 feet). Swamps along
the border of the lake, and "sponge"
areas are fed by water seeping through
the dunes; these provide critical
refuges to freshwater life when the
lake salinity is particularly high.
The park consists of
five individual ecosystems. These
ecosystems function totally independent
yet fully integrated with each other.
The five ecosystems
in the park are:
Characterised by the warm Indian Ocean,
containing the southernmost coral
reefs in Africa, as well as sub-marine
canyons and long sandy beaches.
A coastal dune system consisting of
high linear dunes and sub-tropical
forests, grassy plains and wetlands.
Two estuary-linked lakes of St Lucia
and Kosi Bay, plus the four large
freshwater lakes of Lake Sibhayi,
Ngobezeleni, Bhangazi north and Bhangazi
Mkhuze and Umfolozi Swamps
Swamp forests and extensive reeds
and papyrus marshes.
Ancient shoreline terraces and dry
Though less well known than larger
southern African parks like Kruger
National Park and the Okavango Delta,
St. Lucia supports more species, and
for some, St. Lucia is critical habitat.
These include the White-backed and
Pink-backed Pelican, Greater and Lesser
Flamingos, African Fish Eagles, and
some 530 other bird species. It is
also home to the largest population
of hippopotami in South African parks.
Elephants were reintroduced in 2001.
Two sea turtle species use the beaches
for laying eggs. The coastal reserve
includes not only beaches but offshore
coral reefs, and Humpback Whales migrate
along this section of the coast. It
is the one park in Africa where hippopotami,
crocodiles, and sharks can be found
all in the same area.
Satellite image of the park, with
the borders of several conservation
areas outlined in yellow.The park
is also famous as a home to coelacanth,
a fish species from millions of years
ago that was known to scientists from
fossil records and presumed to have
been extinct until a live specimen
was found in a trawler net in 1938
just off the African coast. Scientists
have since found a number of these
fish in very deep, rocky, marine environments,
but it is still a very rare fish and
protected under international law.
On November 27, 2000, three living
specimens of coelacanth were found
and photographed in a submarine canyon
off the coast near Sodwana Bay inside
the St. Lucia Reserve.
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.
Kosi Bay, Manguzi,
eManguzi, KwaNgwanase are all different
names for the same place. Manguzi
is the community in which the town
is settled and KwaNgwanase is the
district name. o The name Kosi is
said to be derived from the word Nkosi
which means king. Ngwanase is the
name for the Thonga King who fled
from the Portuguese Colonists in Mozambique.
The original king was Mabhudu which
the Portuguese and English colonists
mispronounced and misspelled respectively
to Maputo and Maputa. The region is
still known as Maputaland. o The region
is also known as Thonga Tembe Land.
Historically this region was the orphan
of South Africa and none of the previous
governments made any effort to develop
this region. Maputaland was/is completely
self-governed by the Thonga people.
The current king is Mabhudu Israel
Tembe. Even today the Tembe Tribal
Authority retains power and oversees
everything regarding everyday life.
o The fact that the region have a
King and chiefs, Local government,
various other state bodies who have
interests here and that large parts
of Maputaland are national borders,
world heritage area, state forest
land, marine sanctuary and conservation
areas do not make it easier to manage
and purposefully develop Maputaland.
o In Maputaland first world dreams
are conflicting with third world tranquillity
and existence more than anywhere else.
The stage was set when the Portuguese
and English colonists clashed in these
regions during 1875 and asked the
French prime Minister to arbitrate.
With typical heavy handedness he drew
a line on a map that divided the Thonga
tribe in two.
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.
In 1822, St. Lucia was
proclaimed by the British as a township.
In 1895, St. Lucia Game Reserve, 30
km north of the town was proclaimed.
In 1971, St. Lucia Lake and the turtle
beaches and coral reefs of Maputaland
have been listed by the Convention
on Wetlands of International Importance
In December 1999, the park was declared
a UNESCO World Heritage Site.