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Come and join us on an unforgettable 2 days, 1-night adventure. On this trip, you get to experience ponta Membene beach, a safari and Maputo Special Reserve Camping. The Reserve is located on Maputo Bay 100 kilometers from Maputo and it is a conservation area 1040 km2 big. The reserve combines lakes, wetlands, swamp forests, grasslands and mangrove forests with a pristine coastline.
In the gloom of the darkness, we will leave Maputo as we try to flee another sunrise. We will drive into the reserve. The sun shall have just risen over the scrawny trees, now choked by water from the lakes. The lakes will be grey and so flat that you could even press your shirt on them.
This is not a story, about a horse and carriage. Yin and Yang. This is your story, where you get to participate as we write our reserve journal on that day. You get to be a character in the story as we experience it, to live a little bit extra, to enjoy, to share these moments with us and the others, and most importantly to bond with nature. To recite your commitments to protect the natural ecosystem, but this time, you also be a part of it.
There are rules and protocols in the reserve, enforced not by the park wardens, but by the real owners of the land; the Elephants. The Elephants are some of the smartest mammals we know of. They understand personal space and mutual respect like no one else. They also have an uncanny recall power, which means they never forget. Please also mind other members of this society,i.e hippos, crocodiles, impalas, buffaloes among many more. If you follow the rules of this new society you will be welcomed and the magic of nature will be endowed upon you. It will almost feel like a blessing.
Besides being part of nature, we still want you to enjoy a few essentials that may matter to you. You can clean yourself as we all do in the wild by swimming in the ocean but if the salt is too much for you to adapt, there are also showers available at the campsite at Ponta Membene (showers with hot water and kitchen)
Pick up at your Hotel in Maputo
Our guide will pick you up at your accommodation at 06:00, you will drive for an hour and a half to the reserve entrance gate, adventure begins, you will drive around the reserve, enjoy the landscape, variety of birdlife and wildlife the reserve offers, you will have a nice break at one of the freshwater lagoons, here our guide will serve you with refreshments and have some snacks while you watch the hippos, birdlife, and crocodiles.
After the short break, you will proceed with the drive heading towards our campsite, passing different freshwater lagoons and plains, and forests, lastly you will come to our camp where the Indian oceans await you.
Enjoy the rest of the afternoon swimming in the ocean or simply take a walk along the beach. Watch the sunset at our campsite, Camp will be set and dinner will be served under the unique starry sky, enjoy a drink around the bonfire whilst you discuss the adventure you have so far, our guide will give you a brief about the next day program.
Enjoy morning coffee before breakfast, take a walk along the beach and enjoy. Breakfast is served at the camp. We shall leave the camp around 11:00, take another drive slowly back, will take a different route this time explore more the reserve, passing by different lagoons, we will stop for a short break, where our guide will serve refreshments and snacks, after the snack break we shall proceed with the drive slowly towards the entrance gate, we shall be back in Maputo around 16:30 pm. Our guide will drop you off at your accommodation
The Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area (LTFCA) includes four different areas in three countries: Mozambique, South Africa and eSwatini. LTFCA spans a total range of 1,116.17 Km2. The Mozambican component is made up of Maputo Special Reserve (MSR) (1040 Km2), Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve (PPMR) (678 Km2) and Machangulo Peninsula.
LTFCA is part of the Maputaland Centre of Endemism – an area in which the ranges of unique species overlap. This +- 1,700,000ha region covers parts of Mozambique, South Africa and eSwatini. Its conservation value is internationally recognized as it contains high species richness and endemism – native and naturally occurring only in that specific habitat. It forms part of the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany biodiversity hotspot as well as South Africa Coast Endemic Bird Area.
MSR and PPMR offer a scenic combination of land and ocean, plains and hills covered by woodland, marshes, grassland and forest-capped ridges as well as turquoise seas and beaches of fine white sand with forest-fringed coastal dunes. The tropical Mozambique plain developed as a result of southward–flowing warm Mozambique and Agulhas currents. These special conditions allow for tropical plants and animals to flourish in a sub-tropical environment.
Several distinct waterbodies define the fresh and saline coastal lake system area. Rivers include the Futi and Maputo. The largest lakes are Lagoa Piti, Xinguti and Munde. Riverine and estuarine wetland systems provide a special habitat for various communities of species. These include sea grass beds, mangrove, saline and freshwater hygrophilous (water-growing) grasslands, reed-and sedge beds as well as swamp forest. The marine shoreline with its sand stone reefs supports diverse coral communities and rich sea life.
The vegetation, topography and geology of the MSR create a specific terrestrial habitat with associated species namely:
• Lakes: Hippo, crocodile, Migratory birds;
• Futi/Riverine Vegetation: Reedbucks, Elephants, Buffalos;
• Lacustrine Reed-bed: Reedbuck;
• Hygrophilous Grassland such as the Futi Valley: important for both wildlife and neighboring human population. It remains permanently moist, providing water and green forage for livestock and wildlife well into the dry season;
• Dune forest: important for birds, snakes and elephants. Being very narrow in places, this type of forest enhances the spread of genetic material especially for less mobile plants and animals.
• Dune Grassland: towards the eastern extremity of the palm veld the palms become few and palm veld grades into open grassland.
• Open Woodland: Nyala, Bushbuck, Giraffe, Blue wildebeest, Zebra, Impala, Warthog, and Elephant.
• Wooden Grassland: Bush pig, Red and Grey duiker, Steenbok and Jackal.
• Sand Forest: Tall trees; Inhabited mostly by Suni and Vervet monkeys.
• Sand Thicket: 2m to 5m high; inhabited mostly by Duikers and spur fowl;
• Swamp Forest: a rare and sensitive habitat type; some with closed canopy (15m to 25m high).
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
1960 – Proclamation of the reserve to protect elephants;
1969 – Vegetation in the area recognized as diverse and species-rich;
1980 – Drastic decline in wildlife numbers; the entire white rhino population wiped out;
1989 – Northern boundary with Tembe Elephant Park fenced off;
1994 – Support by Endangered wildlife trust (continued) education, anti-poaching, awareness, training guards;
2006 – Memorandum of understanding signed between Peace Parks Foundation and Mozambique Government;
2009 – Proclamation of Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve;
2010 – Extension of reserve’s borders to include Futi corridor;
2011 – PPMR head Quarters opened; wildlife translocation started;
2015 – First luxury lodge, Anvil Bay at Chemucane, established;
2016 – 573 animals relocated, over 6,000 animals and 400 elephants counted in annual census;
2017 – Over 2,300 animals relocated $16m in tourism investment and capacity-building.
The hippopotamus is a large, mostly herbivorous, semiaquatic mammal and ungulate native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is one of only two extant species in the family Hippopotamidae in Africa, the other being the pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis or Hexaprotodon liberiensis). The name comes from the ancient Greek for “river horse”. After the elephant and rhinoceros, both of which are found in Africa, the hippopotamus is the third-largest type of land mammal and the heaviest extant artiodactyl. Despite their physical resemblance to pigs and other terrestrial even-toed ungulates, the closest living relatives of the Hippopotamidae are cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises, etc.) from which they diverged about 55 million years ago.
Hippos are recognizable by their barrel-shaped torsos, wide-opening mouths revealing large canine tusks, nearly hairless bodies, columnar legs and large size; adults average 1,500 kg and 1,300 kg for males and females respectively. Despite its stocky shape and short legs, it is capable of running 30 km/h over short distances.
Hippos inhabit rivers, lakes, and mangrove swamps, where territorial males preside over a stretch of river and groups of five to thirty females and young hippos. During the day, they remain cool by staying in the water or mud; reproduction and childbirth both occur in water. They emerge at dusk to graze on grasses. While hippos rest near each other in the water, grazing is a solitary activity and hippos are not territorial on land. The hippo is among the most dangerous animals in the world as it is highly aggressive and unpredictable. They are threatened by habitat loss and poaching for their meat and ivory canine teeth.
Crocodiles (subfamily Crocodylinae) or true crocodiles are large semiaquatic reptiles that live throughout the tropics in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. Although they appear similar, crocodiles, alligators and the gharial belong to separate biological families. The gharial, with its narrow snout, is easier to distinguish, while morphological differences are more difficult to spot in crocodiles and alligators. The most obvious external differences are visible in the head, with crocodiles having narrower and longer heads, with a more V-shaped than a U-shaped snout compared to alligators and caimans. Another obvious trait is that the upper and lower jaws of the crocodiles are the same width, and the teeth in the lower jaw fall along the edge or outside the upper jaw when the mouth is closed; therefore, all teeth are visible, unlike an alligator, which possesses in the upper jaw small depressions into which the lower teeth fit. Also, when the crocodile’s mouth is closed, the large fourth tooth in the lower jaw fits into a constriction in the upper jaw. For hard-to-distinguish specimens, the protruding tooth is the most reliable feature to define the species’ family Crocodiles have more webbing on the toes of the hind feet and can better tolerate saltwater due to specialized salt glands for filtering out salt, which are present, but non-functioning, in alligators. Another trait that separates crocodiles from other crocodilians is their much higher levels of aggression.
Crocodile size, morphology, behavior and ecology differ somewhat among species. However, they have many similarities in these areas as well. All crocodiles are semiaquatic and tend to congregate in freshwater habitats such as rivers, lakes, wetlands and sometimes in brackish water and saltwater. They are carnivorous animals, feeding mostly on vertebrates such as fish, reptiles, birds and mammals, and sometimes on invertebrates such as mollusks and crustaceans, depending on species and age. All crocodiles are tropical species that, unlike alligators, are very sensitive to cold. They separated from other crocodilians during the Eocene epoch, about 55 million years ago. Many species are at the risk of extinction, some being classified as critically endangered
Reedbuck is a common name for African antelopes from the genus Redunca. Reedbucks are reddish-brown and are 60 to 90 cm.
The lowland nyala or simply nyala is a spiral-horned antelope native to southern Africa as well as the Bale region of Ethiopia. It is a species of the family Bovidae and genus Nyala, also considered to be in the genus Tragelaphus. It was first described in 1849 by George French Angas. The body length is 135–195 cm, and it weighs 55–140 kg. The coat is maroon or rufous brown in females and juveniles but grows a dark brown or slate grey, often tinged with blue, in adult males. Females and young males have ten or more white stripes on their sides. Only males have horns, 60–83 cm long and yellow-tipped. It exhibits the highest sexual dimorphism among the spiral-horned antelopes.
The nyala is mainly active in the early morning and the late afternoon. It generally browses during the day if temperatures are 20–30 °C and during the night in the rainy season. As a herbivore, the nyala feeds upon foliage, fruits and grasses, with sufficient fresh water. A shy animal, it prefers water holes rather than open spaces. The nyala does not show signs of territoriality, and individual areas can overlap each other. They are very cautious creatures. Old males live alone, but single-sex or mixed family groups of up to 10 individuals can be found. These inhabit thickets within dense and dry savanna woodlands. The main predators of the nyala are lion, leopard and Cape hunting dog, while baboons and raptorial birds hunt (none of these are found in the reserve) for the juveniles. Mating peaks during spring and autumn. Males and females are sexually mature at 18 and 11–12 months of age respectively, though they are socially immature until five years old. After a gestational period of seven months, a single calf is born.
Bushbuck: The Cape bushbuck or bushbuck, as it is commonly known within its range, is a widespread species of antelope in Sub-Saharan Africa. To distinguish it from the kéwel a close relative, some scientific literature refers to it as the Imbabala. The two “bushbuck” species have been found to be more closely related to other members of the tragelaphine family than to each other – the imbabala namely to the bongo and sitatunga, and the kéwel to the nyala. Cape bushbuck are found in rain forests, montane forests, forest-savanna mosaic, savanna bush and woodland.
The giraffe (Giraffa) is an African artiodactyl mammal, the tallest living terrestrial animal and the largest ruminant. It is traditionally considered to be one species, Giraffa camelopardalis, with nine subspecies. However, the existence of up to eight extant giraffe species has been described, based upon research into the mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, as well as morphological measurements of Giraffa. Seven other species are extinct, prehistoric species known from fossils.
The giraffe’s chief distinguishing characteristics are its extremely long neck and legs, its horn-like ossicones, and its distinctive coat patterns. It is classified under the family Giraffidae, along with its closest extant relative, the okapi.
Giraffes usually inhabit savannahs and woodlands. Their food source is leaves, fruits and flowers of woody plants, primarily acacia species, which they browse at heights most other herbivores cannot reach. They may be preyed on by lions, leopards, spotted hyenas and African wild dogs. Giraffes live in herds of related females and their offspring, or bachelor herds of unrelated adult males, but are gregarious and may gather in large aggregations. Males establish social hierarchies through “necking”, which are combat bouts where the neck is used as a weapon. Dominant males gain mating access to females, which bear the sole responsibility for raising the young.
The giraffe has intrigued various cultures, both ancient and modern, for its peculiar appearance, and has often been featured in paintings, books, and cartoons. It is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable to extinction and has been extirpated from many parts of its former range.
The blue wildebeest: also called the common wildebeest, white-bearded wildebeest, or brindled gnu is a large antelope and one of the two species of wildebeest. It is placed in the genus Connochaetes and family Bovidae and has a close taxonomic relationship with the black wildebeest. The blue wildebeest is known to have five subspecies. This broad-shouldered antelope has a muscular, front-heavy appearance, with a distinctive, robust muzzle. Young blue wildebeest are born tawny brown and begin to take on their adult coloration at the age of 2 months. The adults’ hues range from a deep slate or bluish-gray to light gray or even grayish-brown. Both sexes possess a pair of large curved horns.
The blue wildebeest is a herbivore, feeding primarily on short grasses. It forms herds which move about in loose aggregations, the animals being fast runners and extremely wary. The mating season begins at the end of the rainy season and a single calf is usually born after a gestational period of about 8.5 months. The calf remains with its mother for 8 months, after which it joins a juvenile herd. Blue wildebeest are found in short-grass plains bordering bush-covered acacia savannas in southern and eastern Africa, thriving in areas that are neither too wet nor too arid.
Are several species of African equids (horse family) united by their distinctive black-and-white striped coats. Their stripes come in different patterns, unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds. Unlike their closest relatives, horses and donkeys, zebras have never been truly domesticated.
There are three species of zebras: the plains zebra, the mountain zebra and the Grévy’s zebra. The plains zebra and the mountain zebra belong to the subgenus Hippotigris, while Grévy’s zebra is the sole species of subgenus Dolichohippus. The latter resembles an ass, to which zebras are closely related, while the former two look more horse-like. All three belong to the genus Equus, along with other living equids
The unique stripes of zebras make them one of the animals most familiar to people. They occur in a variety of habitats, such as grasslands, savannas, woodlands, thorny scrublands, mountains, and coastal hills. Various anthropogenic factors have had a severe impact on zebra populations, in particular, hunting for skins and habitat destruction. Grévy’s zebra and the mountain zebra are endangered.
Impala is a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. The sole member of the genus Aepyceros, it was first described to European audiences by German zoologist Hinrich Lichtenstein in 1812. Two subspecies are recognized—the common impala, and the larger and darker black-faced impala. The impala reaches 70–92 centimeters at the shoulder and weighs 40–76 kg It features a glossy, reddish-brown coat. The male’s slender, lyre-shaped horns are 45–92 centimeters long.
Warthog is a wild member of the pig family (Suidae) found in grassland, savanna, and woodland in sub-Saharan Africa. In the past, it was commonly treated as a subspecies of P. aethiopicus, but today that scientific name is restricted to the desert warthog of northern Kenya, Somalia, and eastern Ethiopia.
The common warthog is a medium-sized species, with a head-and-body length ranging from 0.9 to 1.5 m, and shoulder height from 63.5 to 85 cm. Females, at 45 to 75 kg, are typically a bit smaller and lighter in weight than males, at 60 to 150 kg. A warthog is identifiable by the two pairs of tusks protruding from the mouth and curving upwards. The lower pair, which is far shorter than the upper pair, becomes razor-sharp by rubbing against the upper pair every time the mouth is opened and closed. The upper canine teeth can grow to 25.5 cm long and have a wide elliptical cross-section, being about 4.5 cm deep and 2.5 cm wide. A tusk will curve 90° or more from the root, and will not lie flat on a table, as it curves somewhat backward as it grows. The tusks are not used for digging but are used for combat with other hogs, and in defense against predators – the lower set can inflict severe wounds.
RED FOREST DUIKER:
Red Forest Duiker is a small to medium-sized brown antelope native to sub-Saharan Africa, found in heavily wooded areas. The 22 extant species, including three, sometimes considered to be subspecies of the other species, from the subfamily Cephalophinae. And as a curiosity, the Blue Duiker is the smallest antelope in the savannah.
The celebrities in the reserve. Elephants are mammals of the family Elephantidae and the largest existing land animals. Three species are currently recognized: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant.
The family Elephantidae also contains several now-extinct groups, including the mammoths and straight-tusked elephants. African elephants have larger ears and concave backs, whereas Asian elephants have smaller ears, and convex or level backs. Distinctive features of all elephants include a long trunk, tusks, large ear flaps, massive legs, and tough but sensitive skin. The trunk, also called a proboscis, is used for breathing, bringing food and water to the mouth, and grasping objects. Tusks, which are derived from the incisor teeth, serve both as weapons and as tools for moving objects and digging. The large ear flaps assist in maintaining constant body temperature as well as in communication. The Pillar-like legs carry their great weight.
They are herbivorous, and they stay near water when it is accessible. They are considered to be keystone species, due to their impact on their environments. Other animals tend to keep their distance from elephants; the exception is their predators such as lions, tigers, hyenas, and wild dogs, which usually target only young elephants (calves). Elephants have a fission-fusion society, in which multiple family groups come together to socialize. Females (cows) tend to live in family groups, which can consist of one female with her calves or several related females with offspring. The groups, which do not include bulls, are led by the (usually) oldest cow, known as the matriarch.
Males (bulls) leave their family groups when they reach puberty and may live alone or with other males. Adult bulls mostly interact with family groups when looking for a mate. They enter a state of increased testosterone and aggression known as musth, which helps them gain dominance over other males as well as reproductive success. Calves are the center of attention in their family groups and rely on their mothers for as long as three years. Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild. They communicate by touch, sight, smell, and sound; elephants use infrasound and seismic communication over long distances. Elephant intelligence has been compared with that of primates and cetaceans. They appear to have self-awareness, as well as appearing to show empathy for dying and dead family members.
African elephants are listed as vulnerable and Asian elephants as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). One of the biggest threats to elephant populations is the ivory trade, as the animals are poached for their ivory tusks. Other threats to wild elephants include habitat destruction and conflicts with local people. Elephants are used as working animals in Asia. In the past, they were used in war; today, they are often controversially put on display in zoos, or exploited for entertainment in circuses. Elephants are highly recognizable and have been featured in art, folklore, religion, literature, and popular culture.
All sums up to make Maputo Special Reserve Camping Tour a must do for those exploring Mozambique.