Kruger to Canyons

©Wikimedia Commons/Pierre André
Motlatse canyon

The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve is located in the north-east of South Africa. It encompasses the Kruger National Park as well as other national and provincial nature reserves such as the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. Three Southern African biomes are incorporated into the biosphere reserve: grasslands, Afro-montane forests and the savannah of the lowveld. There is a high level of biodiversity, especially plant endemism on mountaintops.

There are a number of different land-use practices in the region including gold, phosphate and copper mining, the plantation of exotic species, and the extensive cultivation of subtropical fruits and vegetables.

Designation date: 2001
Administrative authorities: National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Surface area (terrestrial and marine): 2,608,000 ha
Core area(s): 923,000 ha
Buffer zone(s): 485,000 ha
Transition area(s): 1,200,000 ha

23°57’06”S – 30°51’05”E

Ecological Characteristics

©Wikimedia Commons/Derek Keats
wildlife at Kruger to Canyons biosphere reserve

The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve is characterized by the Transvaal Drakensberg Escarpment, which runs through the south-western section of the reserve. Several rivers of ecological importance that provide key resources flow through the area. High-lying grasslands are abundant with wetlands, while the lowveld is predominantly semi-arid to arid savannah.

Seven biomes are found in South Africa of which three are present in the biosphere reserve, namely savannah, grassland and forest biomes. The grassland biome occupies mostly high-lying areas along the Escarpment. The forest biome occurs as scattered small and larger patches, particularly in sheltered localities. The savannah biome is found mostly below the Escarpment in the eastern foothills, valleys and plains.

There is an amazing diversity of animal species in the area including 149 species of mammals, 510 species of birds, 147 species of reptiles, 42 species of amphibians and 57 species of fish. These include the African fish-eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer), the giant kingfisher (Megaceryle maxima), the Southern African python (Python sebae natalensis), the aardwolf (Proteles cristatus), the roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus) and the giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis).


Socio-Economic Characteristics

©Wikimedia Commons/Pierre André Leclercq
Siswati preparing food

A number of different land-use practices take place in the region including gold, phosphate and copper mining, the plantation of exotic species, and the extensive cultivation of subtropical fruits and vegetables.

The area is also home to a number of tribes and cultures including the Venda people from the north, the Tsonga people from the east, the Siswati (Swazi) people from the south-east, and the Pedi people from the central and western parts of the Reserve. Other minority groups include the Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, South Sotho, Tswana, Afrikaans and English communities. Each of these cultures contributes to the cultural diversity of the area in terms of food, architecture, crafts and traditional dress.

The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve has immense importance in terms of cultural values. Its rich and diverse history dates back to Stone Age people known as the Bushmen. Today, remnants of their existence can be found in the area such as tools made of bones and stone, rock paintings, engravings and sculptures. The National Monument Council protects all archaeological sites, paintings and engravings. Other significant archaeological sites include the Masorini and Swadini Iron Age sites.

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Last updated in May 2016

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