The Diverse Wildlife of Mapungubwe

© Red-billed Ox Pecker.

Mapungubwe National Park is a bird-watcher's paradise and is home to over 456 species of birds as well as the Big Five of the African bush.

A Birding Enthusiasts Dream

Mapungubwe National Park is a bird watchers paradise with 456 species of birds recorded as being found in the park. Knowledge of bird calls and the ability to tell the calls apart will stand you in good stead amongst the cacophony of song constantly heard. Visitors to the Mapungubwe National Park in the Limpopo province will be awarded with a year round display of both resident and migrating birds.

This nature reserve boasts over 46 species of raptors, including the African fish eagle which can regularly be heard calling from the skies. Other species to watch out for include the rare Thick-billed Cuckoo, Three-banded courser, both Yellow- and Red-billed ox-peckers, Meve's starling, Meyer's Parrot, Tropical boubou, White-breasted cuckoo-shrike, and Boulder chat. The Maloutswa bird hide, found near to the Limpopo Forest Tented camp, acts as an excellent viewing location and is highly recommended to visit.

Diverse Geography Means a Variety of Habitats and Wildlife

Mapungubwe's wilderness area is made up of a diverse and ever changing landscape. There is a mix of hilly and deep plateaux, while the Limpopo River has also craved out deep silt-filled floodplains, bursting its banks and reforming through a number of feeder streams. The hills are made up of sandstones with some outcrops being formed by basalt and granite. The Venetia mine, located about 50kilometres (31.0685 miles) south of the park's boundary, is rich in Kimberlites, yielding diamonds from about 100 million year BP.

Mopani trees, mostly in bush, dominate most of the park. The flat alluvial river canopies have some larger trees, but riparian (the area between woodland and stream/river) woodland is somewhat fragmented. Characteristic trees found in the park include a few massive baobabs, the yellowish-green barked fever tree, the huge nyala tree, the large, whitish-barked common cluster fig and broom cluster figs.

What Animals Can I See in Mapungubwe?

©Shem Compion

Mapungubwe National Park is home to over 90 mammal species including the Big Five of the African bush - with both black and white rhinoceros being present, illusive wild dogs and magnificent cheetahs. Relax as you spend time watching a herd of elephants meander along the river banks or laugh at the antics of a family of Vervet monkeys. The greater national park area is home to all three of the big cats; lion, leopard and cheetah as well as two species of hyaenas but these are all seldom seen. More commonly seen are other smaller carnivores such as slender mongoose, banded mongoose and dwarf mongoose.

The wildlife park is also known to be home to at least 17 species of bats. Fruit bats are attracted to the fig trees along the Limpopo River banks, including tree roosting Wahlberg's epauletted fruit bat and the cave dwelling Egyptian fruit bat.

Rarely found living side by side, the park is one of the few conservation areas in South Africa with both yellow-spotted rock hyrax (with greyer coat and pale dorsal spot) and rock hyrax (with brown coast and black dorsal spot) in it. All four of the indigenous South African spiral-horned antelope - common eland, greater kuku, nyala and bushbuck - are present.

There are estimated to be at least thirty-two species of snake Mapungubwe National Park, although only fifteen have thus far been confirmed. Some of these species include the southern African python, snouted cobra, black mamba, both horned and puff adders, and at least three species of whip or sand snakes. Many lizards including water and rock monitor lizards are common. There is also a large and healthy Nile crocodile population in the Limpopo River.

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South Africa Nature Reserves : Game Reserves and National Parks