Ubuntu Wildlife Trust works in Maputaland (formerly Tongaland) in the northern parts of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is sometimes erroneously referred to as part of Zululand but is a region on its own further north. It is an area of incredible natural beauty, species richness in both fauna and flora, and has huge conservation importance on a global scale. This series of blogs by our team of ecologists highlights some of the reasons why we have chosen to work on the ground in this region:
Blog 1: What are Centres of Endemism, World Biodiversity Hotspots, RAMSAR wetlands and IBA’s?
There are currently 36 globally recognised biodiversity hotspots with only 8 on the African continent. They form just over 2% of the Earth’s surface, but approximately 44% of the world’s plants, and 35% of land vertebrates are found here. Most plants found in a hotspot are endemic and these areas have lost at least 70% of their original habitat, largely due to humans.
Its conservation importance is globally recognised, and contains the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site, five RAMSAR sites (a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention) and ten Important Bird Areas (IBA – area identified using an internationally agreed set of criteria as being globally important for the conservation of bird populations).
These areas form critical habitats for species that are important for our survival as humans, and the natural functioning of the world’s ecosystems. They provide ecosystem service such as providing food, clean water, medicines, fuel; purifying and regulating air quality; preventing soil erosion; controlling greenhouse gases; helping in pest and disease control, etc.
At Ubuntu we feel compelled to secure and protect these areas for the future generations.