Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve

Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve

Location: 280 km North of Durban Map

Area: 385 sq mi (960 km²)

Wildlife: rhinos, elephants, zebras, giraffes and etc.

When: May- Sept


Description of Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve

Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve is a protected area located 280 km North of Durban in South Africa. It covers an area of 385 sq mi (960 km²). The best time to visit Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve is between May and September. Some of the most abundant species that live here include rhinos, elephants, zebras, giraffes and many others.
The diverse vegetation provides habitat for many mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. The " Big Five ", elephant , rhino , buffalo , lion and leopard are also present in the park, as are cheetahs, wild dogs and giraffes and nyalas . Hluhluwe and Umfolozi were founded in 1895 as separate game reserves, as the population of these animals was endangered by excessive hunting.



Throughout the park, many artifacts related to Stone Age settlements have been found. Originally the area was a hunting ground for the Zulu kingdom, but it was used as a park in 1895. The Umfolozi and Hluhluwe reserves were initially established to protect the white rhino, then also the animals on the endangered species list. The area has always been a refuge for animals as disease-carrying tsetse flies such as the nagana are widespread, which protected the area from colonial-era hunters. However, when areas of the Zulu kingdom were colonized by European farmers, the game was blamed for the presence of tze-tze flies and the reserves became experimental areas for the eradication of insects. Farmers began to hunt animals, killing about 100,000 animals in the reserve, until the arrival of DDT-based pest control treatments in 1945 which solved the problem. In any case, the white rhinos were not targeted and currently a population of about 1,000 has been maintained. On April 30, 1995, President Nelson Mandela visited the then Hluhluwe Game Reserve to celebrate the park's centennial. The Hluhluwe-Imfolozi park was originally made up of three separate reserves, which were unified into the current park in 1989.

The park is located in the KwaZulu-Natal province on the east coast of South Africa. It is located near the town of Mtubatuba and the village of Hluhluwe.

The geography of the area is different between the northern part (Hluhluwe area) and the southern part (Umfolozi area): the north of the park is more rugged and mountainous, with forests and grasslands, and is known as the Hluhluwe area. while the Umfolozi area is located to the south, near the Umfolozi rivers where there is open savannah.

The Hluhluwe-Imfolozi park is a partially low-risk area for malaria.

This area is located in the southern part of the park, between the two Umfolozi rivers, where they divide between the Mfolozi emnyama (black Umfolozi) to the north and the Mfolozi emhlophe (White Umfolozi) to the south. The area is generally warm in summer and temperate in winter, with the occasional cold spell.

The orography of the Umfolozi reserve, with an altitude between 80 and 540 meters above sea level, varies from the plains crossed by the Umfolozi rivers to the steep hills, including some wide and deep valleys. The habitat in this sector is mainly characterized by grasslands extending to the savannah and acacia thickets; on the highest ridges there are forests. The region is well irrigated with shrubs at the lower levels of the valley.

The park has a rich flower community.

The park is home to all of Africa's Big Five: elephant, rhino (black and white), buffalo, lion and leopard. There are 86 species including: Nile crocodile, hippopotamus, cheetah, spotted hyena, striped wildebeest, jackal, giraffe, Burchell's zebra, cobo, nyala, antelope alcina, kudu, impala, blue duiker, suni, redunca dei reeds, warthog, potamocero, mongoose, black baboon, some species of turtles, amphibians, snakes and lizards. It is one of the best places in the world to observe nyala.

The park is also a prime birdwatching destination, with 340 bird species. The floodplain of the Hluhluwe River is one of the few areas in all of South Africa where you can see the long-throated yellow claw, the long-throated claw and the cape claw together. Also present are the night heron, Wahlberg's eagle, Shelley's francolin, black-bellied bustard, Temminck's runner, Klaas' golden cuckoo, lesser bee-eater and crested beard.


Conservation activities

White rhinoceros
The park was the first place established for the conservation of the white rhino, where it was protected to prevent its extinction (in 1900 there were fewer than 20 rhinos in South Africa, while today there are over 10,000 scattered around the world, all descendants of the nucleus originally from Umfolozi). As the site of the so-called "Operation Rhinoceros" in the early 1960s, the park gained its worldwide fame for its white rhino conservation activities. Personnel from the "Rhino Catching Unit" helped save the white rhino from extinction. Today in the reserve there are more than 1,600 specimens of white rhinoceros and hundreds of animals, from the 1960s onwards, have been transferred to reserves and zoo-parks all over the world.
The success of this program has recently been compromised by the increase in poaching within the park. This recent threat has not only become a major concern for the park, but for conservationists across the country.

African wild dog
In 1981, the Natal Park Authority (now called Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife) attempted to reintroduce wild dogs to the park: 23 specimens were released into the reserve, many of which were reared in zoos. However, this project has had little success, as the African wild dog population has fluctuated between 3 and 30 individuals.