*The Eastern Shores is one of several unique areas where our Leopard Survey project takes places. Our Leopard Team moves across a few reserves throughout the year spending two months at a time on each.
The Eastern Shores extend from St Lucia through to Misson Rocks, Lake Bhangazi and Cape Vidal and is part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site. It is also an occasional site where our Leopard Population Survey takes place. At the southern end is St Lucia – a beautiful seaside town where our volunteers are given an opportunity to visit and partake in the activities offered.
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park was listed as South Africa’s first World Heritage Site in December 1999 in recognition of its superlative natural beauty and unique global values. The vast Park in its entirety contains three major lake systems, eight interlinking ecosystems, 700 year old fishing traditions, most of South Africa’s remaining swamp forests, Africa’s largest estuarine system, 526 bird species and 25,000 year-old coastal dunes – among the highest in the world. The name iSimangaliso means “miracle and wonder”, which aptly describes this unique place.
The varied habitats of the Eastern Shores include dunes, grassland, lakes, pans and coastal dune forest. Lookout points provide panoramic vistas over a landscape populated by an abundance of wildlife, including Elephants, Rhinos, Buffalo, Leopard, Brown Hyena, several antelope and monkey species and the endangered Samango Monkey.
St. Lucia Lake is connected to the sea by a narrow channel that is rich in Hippo, Crocodile, Goliath Heron and numerous fish-hunting birds. Four rivers feed the lake, maintaining the delicate balance against the inflow of sea water and evaporation. The Nile Crocodile plays an important part in maintaining the ecological balance. Cape Vidal and Mission Rocks are reef-sheltered beaches allowing relatively safe swimming, and excellent snorkeling. The coastline of the reserve is the natural habitat of turtles, two of which (Loggerhead and Leatherback) nest on the beaches. The Reserve is rich in bird life, and strolling through the dune forest is likely to bring you in sight of smaller mammals.