The Makuleke Concession in the Kruger National Park is a Biodiversity Hotspot

Biological diversity or biodiversity is the variety of life around us, life of all kinds, from the largest animal to the smallest plant. Its complexity is measured in terms of variations at genetic, species and ecosystem levels.

The Makuleke contractual park in the northern Kruger National Park is approximately 24000ha in size and is bordered by the Limpopo River on the northern side and the Luvuvhu River to the south. It is considered the most biodiverse area in Kruger, comprising 1% of Kruger yet accounts for between 75% and 80% of the biodiversity to be found in the Kruger National Park.

Walking the Luvuvhu River in winter is manageable with the low water levels

The Limpopo and the Luvuvhu rivers and geographical location of the Makuleke concession comprise of a variety of landscape features such as the riverine forest, riparian floodplain forest, floodplain grassland, river channels and flood pans which all provide food, shelter and nesting sites to a large number of bird species.

The magical fever tree forest

There are approximately 350-400 bird species found within Kruger National Park. The pans also provide a vital stopover for many migratory water birds. For this specific reason, the Makuleke area was designated as a Ramsar Wetland in 2007. These wetlands are considered important bird habitats and are of international importance. South Africa has 19 designated Ramsar sites located across the country.

Earlier this year, the Nwambi Pan was over 100% full after some good rainfall. This will sustain the surrounding area as it enters into the dry months until the next rains return. This will hopefully fall either late 2018 or early 2019.

The floodplains are intermittently filled by floods and rains and are of great importance in this ecosystem as they hold water right into the dry season. There are 31 flooded pans scattered along the floodplains of the Limpopo River within Makuleke. These wetlands play a vital role in purifying water, regulating water flow and acting as a sponge releasing water slowly and easing the impact of droughts and floods in the process.

A section of the Limpopo floodplains after the recent rains

This pan is very much temporary and will likely dry up in the next few months. This, however, is an important drawcard because wildlife in all forms is reliant on these wet and dry cycles that occur within the floodplains. This allows for feeding, reproduction and nourishment for the surrounding nature.

A few of the birding specialities that can be found in Makuleke concession are; the Bohm’s Spinetail, Mottled Spinetail, Racket-tailed Roller, Three Banded Courser, Lemon-breasted Canary, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Meve’s Starling, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Bat Hawk, Tropical Boubou and Brown-necked Parrot. These are only a few names mentioned so you can just imagine the thriving birding life in this majestic concession.

Pel’s Fishing Owl (c)

People who have visited Makuleke before will be well aware of the stunning biodiversity this landscape holds. We do urge you to make a plan to visit the northern part of the Kruger National Park, whether it be through a wildlife or career course through EcoTraining or as a visitor to the Kruger Park. You will be amazed!