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.
2020 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
|№||Organization||Brief description of Active Projects||Website|
|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||EKZNW Honorary Officers||An assessment of the trail network to collect accurate GPS tracklogs and to provide data on the state of the path sections in terms of erosion, user experience, signage, etc. These data can be used to inform management of areas of concern, with enough detail to do accurate work budgetting.|
|6||South African Ecosystem Observation Network (SAEON)||Long term ecological research in established research areas e.g. Cathedral Peak.||
|7||Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife||Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site research programme. Research programme aimed at addressing priority research issues, management challenges and done in collaboration with several partners, including many universities inside and out of South Africa||
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 & MTEC (2016). Alien and Invasive Species Management Plan for the Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and MTEC, Pietermaritzburg & Maseru, 48 pp.
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.
KPDH (2016). Conducting of a Full Feasibility Study for the Development of the Drakensberg Cableway and Related Activities: Environmental Screening Report. Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. 138pp.
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.
Ndlovu, P., Mutanga, O., Sibanda, M., Odindi, J., & Rushworth, I. (2018). Modelling potential distribution of bramble (rubus cuneifolius) using topographic, bioclimatic and remotely sensed data in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg, South Africa. Applied geography, 99, pp.54-62.
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.
SANBI (2012). Supply Chain Management for Payment for Ecosystem Services in the Upper uThukela and Umzimvubu Catchments: PES Brokerage in the Upper uThukela. National Grassland Biodiversity Programme, Pretoria, South Africa. 32pp.
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.
States Parties of Lesotho and South Africa. (2018). Report of the State Party to the World Heritage Committee on the state of conservation of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park (Lesotho and South Africa). [online] States Parties of Lesotho and South Africa. Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/985/documents/ (Accessed 11 September 2019).
UNESCO. (2019). Report on the State of Conservation of Maloti-Drakensberg Park, Lesotho and South Africa. State of Conservation Information System of the World Heritage Centre. [online] Paris, France: UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/3927 (Accessed 11 September 2019).
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].
World Heritage Committee. (2019). Decision 43 COM 7B.38. Maloti-Drakensberg Park (Lesotho, South Africa). In: Report of decisions of the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee (Baku, 2019). [online] Paris, France: UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/7591 [Accessed 9 July 2020].
Zunckel, K (2017). Baseline Assessment and Conceptual Model Report: Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site COMPACT Site Strategy. GEF Small Grants Programme, Pretoria, South Africa. 81pp.