Ancient Forests of KwaZulu Natal and Zululand
KZN WILDLIFE`S SPECIAL FORESTS
Taken from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Rhino Club November News. For enquiries regarding the Rhino Gold Club, simply contact the Helpdesk by email to email@example.com or fax 033 8451015 or Tel 033 8451011/13
Situated in southern Zululand, near the town of Eshowe, are two beautiful indigenous forests Dlinza and Entumeni. Both consist almost entirely of coastal scarp forest with a few glades of grassland. Known for their birds and plants, the forests are also home to a number of mammal species. The forests are currently visited by bird watchers from all over the world with the hope of catching a glimpse of one of the rare species which occur there.
Both forests have hiking trails which allow easy access for visitors to enjoy their unique cool atmosphere. In addition there is a magnificent canopy walk in Dlinza which takes visitors high into the tree tops. Early morning is the best time to visit as the forests echo with bird calls before the heat and cicada beetles take their toll a little later in the day. Shaded picnic sites are available. No entrance fee or booking is required. Accommodation and camping facilities are available at numerous establishments in Eshowe. An interpretive display on the fauna and flora in the area is situated in the Eshowe Fort Museum. The town of Eshowe also forms the epicentre of the Zululand birding route.
For more information contact the Eshowe Tourism Association on (035) 4741141.
Situated on the Northern Drakensberg escarpment Ncandu Reserve is managed as an extension of Chelmsford. The area consists of steep forest filled gorges, divided by grassy plateaus with trails that wander down through the sandstone cliffs into yellowwood forests an d follow the Ncandu river valley with its beautiful waterfalls. Accommodation is provided in a 4 bed rustic mountain hut. Ncandu is 40 kilometres from Chelmsford where booking must be made.
Camp Telephone (034) 3511753/4/5 and Fax Number (34) 3511755
Throughout Zulu history the Nkandla forest has been a place of mystery, the home of supernatural beings, and a formidable stronghold and place of retreat. The Chube are the iron-workers associated with the Nkandla and they were never conquered by Shaka. It has always been the last retreat of the Zulu from Shaka’s time to that of Bhambatha.
The Nkandla Forest is one of the most outstanding examples of surviving mist belt forest in South Africa. The forest covers the crown and south-western slopes of the ridge which lies above the Mhlatuze and Thukela rivers at a height of between 1100 and 1300 m above sea level. Streams rising in the forest form deep gorges leading into the Nsuze river which runs along the base of the ridge.
Apart from being an area of great, often pristine, natural beauty, the Nkandla Forest represents a rare relict type of high wet rain forest, of which very few examples survive. They are relicts of times in the distant past when the climate was wetter, and even colder. The forest has an exceptionally high species diversity with many species that are associated with scarp forest occurring. This indicates that Nkandla may be positioned in a transitional zone between mist and scarp forest. The many rare plants, and the rarity of the habitat type as a whole, are in themselves sufficient reasons for conserving this rare forest type.
There are currently no visitor facilities at Nkandla, though people who wish to hike or camp may do so with the prior permission of the Officer in Charge. Any person wishing to visit the reserve or camp in the designated area must contact the Officer in Charge on the telephone number 035 4745020.
Ongoye Forest is an exceptionally rare and diverse habitat. It is probably the most famous example of the extremely rare scarp forests. The Ongoye range is well-drained by numerous fast-flowing streams such as the Umlalazi and its tributaries the Thondo and the Intuze arising from valley-head springs and is of great importance as a water catchment area. It has large array of rare and endemic tree and plant species that make it “a must” for the more discerning nature lover.
The many tree rarities include magnificent giant umzimbeet, Millettia sutherlundii, forest mangosteen Garcinia gerrardii, forest water berry, Syzygium gerrardii and pondoland fig Ficus bizanae amongst others. The cycads Encephalartos ngoyanus and Encephalartos villosus are also found here. Birding and hiking are also very popular all year round. There are about 130 bird species found on the reserve. The green barbet is endemic to the forest. Bushbuck, red duiker and red squirrel are also found. The giant Wood’s cycad, Encephalartos woodii, now extinct in the wild, but surviving at the botanic gardens in Durban only occurred here.
The Officer in Charge of Ongoye is resident on station but does not have a phone due to the remoteness of the area. People wishing to visit Ongoye for the day, or to camp must contact this official on arrival. Gate opening and closing times winter and summer 06h00 – 18h00 There are no visitor facilities at Ongoye so people wishing to camp must be fully self contained.