Eswatini

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Eswatini country page

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Izele is supported by
Darwin Initiative Wildlands Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust Critical Ecosystem Partnership fund

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Izele is supported by
Darwin Initiative Wildlands Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust Critical Ecosystem Partnership fund

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<h1></h1> <h1>Conservation and ecotourism in Eswatini (Swaziland)</h1> <h2>Introduction</h2> The Kingdom of Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is located in south-eastern Africa and is one of the smallest countries on the African continent. Eswatini is a landlocked nation and is bordered by South Africa in the north, west and south and Mozambique in the east. The country is home to 1.2 million people with over 75% of this population living in rural areas. Despite its small size, Eswatini contains a number of different ecoregions that support a variety of habitat types and species. The weather in Eswatini is mainly subtropical, with hot, wet summers and cold, dry winters (World Bank, 2020). <h2>Ecosystems, species and threats</h2> Eswatini has four main ecosystem types: savanna-woodland mosaic, montane grasslands, forests and the aquatic ecosystem which consists of streams, rivers and wetlands. It is also home to over 2600 species of flowering plants, 132 species of mammals, 153 species of amphibians and reptiles, as well as 350 species of birds (GOS-SEA, 2016). This includes five globally threatened mammal species: the black rhinoceros, African elephant, wild dog, lion and leopard, and 15 globally threatened bird species, such as the critically endangered White-backed vulture, Hooded Vulture and White-headed Vulture. The main threats to biodiversity come from habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species and unsustainable harvesting of natural resources. The national mammals are the lion and African elephant and the national bird is the purple-crested turaco. Eswatini contains three Important Bird Areas and parts of the Barberton and Maputaland Centres of Plant Endemism. The eastern half of the country falls within the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany biodiversity hotspot. A range of priority areas for conservation has been identified in Eswatini, based on their ecological and socio-economic significance and how threatened they are by human activities. <h2>Conservation areas</h2> According to Protected Planet (2020), state-managed protected areas cover 4.3% of Eswatini. These include the Malolotja and Mlawula Nature Reserves, which are managed by the Swaziland National Trust Commission (SNTC), and the Hlane Royal National Park, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and Mkhaya Game Reserve, which are managed by Big Game Parks. There are a number of privately-managed protected areas, such as Mbuluzi Game Reserve, and community reserves also play a crucial role in conserving Eswatini’s biodiversity (SNTC, 2020). For example, the Shewula Community Nature Reserve in managed by the Shewula Trust and the profits generated by the conservation activities in the reserve go towards local development projects, such as orphan care and sustainable energy generation. Eswatini established the Lubombo Biosphere Reserve in 2019 as part of UNESCO’S World Network of Biosphere Reserves. <h2>Conservation organisations and current conservation efforts</h2> The Eswatini National Trust Commission (ENTC) is the main government agency in charge of biodiversity conservation. In addition, ENTC works with governments and conservation organisations in Mozambique and South Africa as part of the Greater Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) initiative. This TFCAs project seeks to increase socio-economic development in the region while promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and the conservation of biodiversity (SNTC, 2020). As part of this, the Lubombo Conservancy was established in 1999 to bring together five reserves that are owned and managed by different parties (the state, private owners and the community) under one common vision, ensuring the sustainable management of the ecosystems while enhancing the quality of life of the communities in the region. There are a number of other initiatives that support conservation efforts in the country, such as Strengthening National Protected Areas Systems (SNPAS) project funded by the Global Environment Facility. <h2>Ecotourism</h2> Ecotourism is an integral part of economic development and biodiversity conservation in Eswatini and is largely based on reserves run by ENTC and Big Game Parks, as well as privately- and community-owned reserves. As a big five destination, Eswatini is an ideal place for seeing elephants, rhinos, leopards, lions and buffalos in their natural habitats, as well as other charismatic species such as plains zebra and giraffe. The country is also a great place for safaris on horseback, mountain bike and foot, where one can spend time in nature and appreciate the beautiful landscapes and amazing array of smaller wildlife. While some parks and reserves require tourists to be accompanied by guides, others provide the opportunity to explore the area independently. Volunteerism is also gaining momentum in Eswatini, giving people the opportunity to have a vacation that also contributes towards long-term conservation and community development projects.

Conservation and ecotourism in Eswatini (Swaziland)

Introduction

The Kingdom of Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is located in south-eastern Africa and is one of the smallest countries on the African continent. Eswatini is a landlocked nation and is bordered by South Africa in the north, west and south and Mozambique in the east. The country is home to 1.2 million people with over 75% of this population living in rural areas. Despite its small size, Eswatini contains a number of different ecoregions that support a variety of habitat types and species. The weather in Eswatini is mainly subtropical, with hot, wet summers and cold, dry winters (World Bank, 2020).

Ecosystems, species and threats

Eswatini has four main ecosystem types: savanna-woodland mosaic, montane grasslands, forests and the aquatic ecosystem which consists of streams, rivers and wetlands. It is also home to over 2600 species of flowering plants, 132 species of mammals, 153 species of amphibians and reptiles, as well as 350 species of birds (GOS-SEA, 2016). This includes five globally threatened mammal species: the black rhinoceros, African elephant, wild dog, lion and leopard, and 15 globally threatened bird species, such as the critically endangered White-backed vulture, Hooded Vulture and White-headed Vulture. The main threats to biodiversity come from habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species and unsustainable harvesting of natural resources. The national mammals are the lion and African elephant and the national bird is the purple-crested turaco.

Eswatini contains three Important Bird Areas and parts of the Barberton and Maputaland Centres of Plant Endemism. The eastern half of the country falls within the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany biodiversity hotspot. A range of priority areas for conservation has been identified in Eswatini, based on their ecological and socio-economic significance and how threatened they are by human activities.

Conservation areas

According to Protected Planet (2020), state-managed protected areas cover 4.3% of Eswatini. These include the Malolotja and Mlawula Nature Reserves, which are managed by the Swaziland National Trust Commission (SNTC), and the Hlane Royal National Park, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and Mkhaya Game Reserve, which are managed by Big Game Parks. There are a number of privately-managed protected areas, such as Mbuluzi Game Reserve, and community reserves also play a crucial role in conserving Eswatini’s biodiversity (SNTC, 2020). For example, the Shewula Community Nature Reserve in managed by the Shewula Trust and the profits generated by the conservation activities in the reserve go towards local development projects, such as orphan care and sustainable energy generation. Eswatini established the Lubombo Biosphere Reserve in 2019 as part of UNESCO’S World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Conservation organisations and current conservation efforts

The Eswatini National Trust Commission (ENTC) is the main government agency in charge of biodiversity conservation. In addition, ENTC works with governments and conservation organisations in Mozambique and South Africa as part of the Greater Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) initiative. This TFCAs project seeks to increase socio-economic development in the region while promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and the conservation of biodiversity (SNTC, 2020). As part of this, the Lubombo Conservancy was established in 1999 to bring together five reserves that are owned and managed by different parties (the state, private owners and the community) under one common vision, ensuring the sustainable management of the ecosystems while enhancing the quality of life of the communities in the region. There are a number of other initiatives that support conservation efforts in the country, such as Strengthening National Protected Areas Systems (SNPAS) project funded by the Global Environment Facility.

Ecotourism

Ecotourism is an integral part of economic development and biodiversity conservation in Eswatini and is largely based on reserves run by ENTC and Big Game Parks, as well as privately- and community-owned reserves. As a big five destination, Eswatini is an ideal place for seeing elephants, rhinos, leopards, lions and buffalos in their natural habitats, as well as other charismatic species such as plains zebra and giraffe. The country is also a great place for safaris on horseback, mountain bike and foot, where one can spend time in nature and appreciate the beautiful landscapes and amazing array of smaller wildlife. While some parks and reserves require tourists to be accompanied by guides, others provide the opportunity to explore the area independently. Volunteerism is also gaining momentum in Eswatini, giving people the opportunity to have a vacation that also contributes towards long-term conservation and community development projects.