I had the fantastic opportunity recently to fly over Lake St Lucia and the coastline of iSimangaliso Wetland Park on the north-east coastline of South Africa.
I flew with the pilots from ZAPWing, which stands for Zululand Anti-Poaching Wing, and comprises a group of pilots funded both by government and private sector to patrol and survey the protected areas which contain white and black rhinos in northern KwaZulu-Natal. This region has the second-largest population of rhinos in the world, after Kruger National Park. ZAPWing also react to poaching incidents, and are critical in the region for effective control of rhino poachers.
It’s the third or fourth time I have flown with the ZAPWing, and I hope it’s not the last. Be sure to check out my upcoming article in Wild Magazine on the good work these guys are doing. Thank you to Lawrence Munro, Etienne Gerber and Wayne Cornhill for the opportunity and privilege.
ZAPWing fly over all of the protected areas in northern KwaZulu-Natal, and I’ve flown with them before over most of the reserves, but this time we flew over iSimangaliso Wetland Park, one of South Africa’s most beautiful protected areas, and one of the biggest (it’s over 300 000 hectares). It stretches from the town of St Lucia for about 250kms along the coast to Kosi Bay on the Mozambique border, and includes both terrestrial, fresh water and marine areas. Definitely one of my favourite protected areas. By some accounts, it has more species of animals per hectare than any other protected area in Southern Africa! A very diverse, biologically-rich place. No wonder it was South Africa’s first World Heritage Site.