The Maloti-Drakensberg Park is a transboundary site composed of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg National Park in South Africa and the Sehlathebe National Park in Lesotho. The site has exceptional natural beauty in its soaring basaltic buttresses, incisive dramatic cutbacks, and golden sandstone ramparts as well as visually spectacular sculptured arches, caves, cliffs, pillars and rock pools. The site's diversity of habitats protects a high level of endemic and globally important plants. The site harbors endangered species such as the Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) and the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus). Lesotho’s Sehlabathebe National Park also harbors the Maloti minnow (Pseudobarbus quathlambae), a critically endangered fish species only found in this park. This spectacular natural site contains many caves and rock-shelters with the largest and most concentrated group of paintings in Africa south of the Sahara. They represent the spiritual life of the San people, who lived in this area over a period of 4,000 years.
2017 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
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Description of values
Outstanding scenic value expressed by the topographic variation, geology and vegetation
Outstanding plant species richness
Large number of endemic and globally threatened bird species
The site has been accepted by UNESCO as part of a small grant Community Management of Protected Areas for Conservation programme (COMPACT). The Management Authority is undertaking an assessment and expects to launch the project in 2017 (IUCN Consultation, 2017).
Progress is ongoing to establish the Buffer Zone. The boundary has been defined, stakeholder engagement and consultation have been completed. It will now go for approval and be sent to the Department of Environmental Affairs who will publish the environmental impact assessment notice (IUCN Consultation, 2017).
A consultation process has commenced regarding a Sustainable Tourism Strategy (Connecting Practice) funded by UNESCO to integrate cultural and nature tourism (IUCN Consultation, 2017).
Consolidation of the two component areas of the site has been ongoing and a Management Plan developed through a process of consultation with the two communities that hold the land known as Upper Tugela linkage. The process has come to a standstill as a dispute has arisen as to the boundary between the communal areas, although both parties are in favour of the area being incorporated into the site (IUCN Consultation, 2017).
|№||Organization/ individuals||Project duration||Brief description of Active Projects|
|1||Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Endangered Wildlife Trust, Wildlands Conservation Trust.||Vulture research and monitoring programme|
|2||Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife||Fire management and monitoring project incorporates a database, implementation of a control burning plan, and management of a long-term experimental grassland fire plots.|
|3||Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife||Alien invasive plant control programme.|
|4||Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife||Anti-poaching law enforcement programme|
|5||Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Bali Mountain National Park, Ethiopia, Frankfurt Zoological Society, and GIZ (coordinates a GEF project in Ethiopia).||‘Sister Parks’ cooperation programme with the Bali Mountain National Park that allows for exchanges in protected area management staff between the two Parks.|
|№||Site need title||Brief description of potential site needs||Support needed for following years|
|1||N.A.||Research projects on the effects of global climate change on various elements of biodiversity and ecosystem services.|
|2||Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife||Additional financial resources are required to fund the management interventions.|
|3||Buffer zone policy and land use change||Effective implementation of a buffer zone policy and influence on land use change. Demarcation of international boundary and establishment of an effective buffer zone on the Lesotho component of the property.|
Arnott, W.L. (2004). The effect of burning frequency on invertebrate and indigenous forb diversity in a Drakensberg grassland ecosystem. Dissertation. Pietermaritzburg : University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Brown, C.J. (1992). Distribution and Status of the Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus in Southern Africa. Ostrich, 63(1), pp.1–9.
Brown, C.J. and Piper, S.E. (1987). Status of Cape Vultures in The Natal Drakensberg and Their Cliff Site Selection. Ostrich, 59, pp.126–136.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. (2012). uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site Integrated Management Plan. Pietermaritzburg: Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
Forster, C., Mthimkhulu, O., Kiepiel, J. and Rushworth, I. (2007). An approach to the identification and establishment of a buffer zone to the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. Pietermaritzburg: Development Management Services and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
IUCN Consultation. (2017). IUCN World Heritage Confidential Consultation: Maloti-Drakensberg Park, South Africa.
Karssing, R.J., Rivers-Moore, N.A. and Slater, K. (2012). Influence of waterfalls on patterns of association between trout and Natal cascade frog Hadromophryne natalensis tadpoles in two headwater streams in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, South Africa. African Journal of Aquatic Science, 37(1), pp.107–112.
Kruger, S. (2005). Wilderness Area Management Plan 2006-2011: uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, South Africa. Pietermaritzburg: Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
Krüger, S., Piper, S., Rushworth, I., Botha, A., Daly, B., Allan, D., Jenkins, A., Burden, D., Friedmann, Y. (editors). 2006. Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus meridionalis) Population and Habitat Viability Assessment Workshop Report. Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (SSC / IUCN) / CBSG Southern Africa. [online] Endangered Wildlife Trust, Johannesburg. Available at: [Accessed on 9 July 2019].
Mander, M., Blignaut, J.J.G., Schulze, R.E., Horan, M., Dickiens, C., van Niekerk, C.A.W.J., Mavundla, K., Mahlangu, I., Wilson, A. and Mckenzie, M. (2008). An Ecosystem Services Trading Model for the Mnweni/Cathedral Peak and Eastern Cape Drakensberg Areas.
O’Connor, T.G. (2003). Influence of land tenure on populations of the medicinal plants Alepidia amatymbica, Eucomis autumnalis and Gunnera perpensa in the southern Drakensberg. Witwatersrand: University of Witwatersrand.
O’Connor, T.G. (2005). Influence of land use on plant community composition and diversity in Highland Sourveld grassland in the Southern Drakensberg, South Africa. Journal of Applied Ecology, 42, pp.975–988.
O’Connor, T.G. (2008). Influence of land use on phytomass accumulation in Highland Sourveld grassland in the southern Drakensberg, South Africa. African Journal of Range & Forage Science, 25(1), pp.17–27.
Short, A.D., O’Connor, T.G. and Hurt, C.R. (2003). Medium-term Changes in Grass Composition and Diversity of Highland Sourveld Grassland in the southern Drakensberg in response to Fire and Grazing Management. African Journal of Range & Forage Science, 20(1), pp.1–10.
World Heritage Committee. (2013). Decision: 37 COM 8B.18 Maloti-Drakensberg Park (Lesotho/South Africa). [online] Phnom Penh, Cambodia, p.173. Available at: [Accessed 7 March 2019].
World Heritage Committee. (2014). Decision 38 COM 8B.45 Adoption of the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value. Maloti-Drakensberg Park (Lesotho/South Africa), Context of Decision WHC-14/38.COM/8B. [online] Available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6132 [Accessed: 9 July 2019].