Wildlife


Wildlife In the iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Kosi Forest Lodge

Kosi Bay Nature Reserve

This unspoiled nature reserve surrounds the rare and beautiful Kosi Bay lake system. It has been incorporated into the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, an internationally recognised World Heritage Site. The 11,000ha, 30km-long reserve is a tropical paradise of crystal clear water, marshland, swamp and coastal forests that is home to about 250 species of bird. Kosi Forest Lodge is the only private lodge in the nature reserve.

Hippo and crocodile bask in and around the lakes and the reserve provides a haven for a variety of rare fish, flora and fauna. The Kosi lake system has long been regarded as the best-preserved large estuary system on South Africa’s Indian Ocean coastline.

Kosi Bay System

The system consists of four large lakes and a series of inter-connecting channels that eventually drain via a sandy estuary into the Indian Ocean. The lakes are separated from the ocean by a strip of forested sand dunes. The system is characterised by grassland, interspersed with lakes, pans, streams, marshes and swamps. The swamp forests found in this area are the largest in the country. The wildlife in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park varies across all of these various ecosystems.

Mammals

The hippopotamus (hippopotamus amphibius) is the most dominant mammal of the Kosi system with a population of about 60. Other estuary-associated mammals include the water mongoose (atilax paludinosus) and the clawless otter (aonyx capensis).

Birds

There are number of rare bird species in the Kosi system, many of which are at the most southerly limits of their distribution and are not encountered elsewhere in South Africa. The prolific bird life of the system is essentially forest associated. Amongst the rare water/estuary associated species are fluff tail (sarothrura spp), whitebacked night heron (gorsachius leuconotus) and the crab Plover (dromas ardeola)

There are nearly always small numbers of greater flamingoes (phoenicopterus ruber) and lesser flamingoes (p.minor). Ospreys (pandion haliaetus) are regularly seen. The raffia forests are also home to the palmnut vulture (gypohierax angloensis), a red data species, and the only fruit-eating vulture in the world.

Butterflies

A particular species of butterfly, a skipper (parnara micans) is regarded as endemic to Kosi Bay. Charaxis protoclea azota is a red data butterfly species. It is a marginal species that occurs only in Kosi Bay in South Africa and is distributed from South Africa to East Africa

Fish

Kosi Bay supports a great variety of fish and other aquatic fauna due to the different physical characteristics of the lakes. There are eight known red data fish species in the area, most of which have their largest known populations in the Kosi system.

Vegetation

The Kosi Bay area is of considerable botanical importance with several red data species found here. The swamp forests found in this area are the largest in the country and the giant palm raffia australis, on which the Palmnut vulture is dependent, is as its natural southern limit here. This is the only area in South Africa where five species of mangrove are found, two of which (luminitzera racemosa and ceriops tagal) are at the southernmost limit of their distribution.

Fauna and Flora

Kosi Bay Nature Reserve

This unspoiled nature reserve surrounds the rare and beautiful Kosi Bay lake system. It has been incorporated into the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, an internationally recognised World Heritage Site. The 11,000ha, 30km-long reserve is a tropical paradise of crystal clear water, marshland, swamp and coastal forests that is home to about 250 species of bird. Kosi Forest Lodge is the only private lodge in the nature reserve.

Hippo and crocodile bask in and around the lakes and the reserve provides a haven for a variety of rare fish, flora and fauna. The Kosi lake system has long been regarded as the best-preserved large estuary system on South Africa’s Indian Ocean coastline.

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Mammals

The hippopotamus (hippopotamus amphibius) is the most dominant mammal of the Kosi system with a population of about 60. Other estuary-associated mammals include the water mongoose (atilax paludinosus) and the clawless otter (aonyx capensis).

Birds, Butterflies & Fish


Birds

There are number of rare bird species in the Kosi system, many of which are at the most southerly limits of their distribution and are not encountered elsewhere in South Africa. The prolific bird life of the system is essentially forest associated. Amongst the rare water/estuary associated species are fluff tail (sarothrura spp), whitebacked night heron (gorsachius leuconotus) and the crab plover (dromas areola)

There are nearly always small numbers of greater flamingoes (phoenicopterus ruber) and lesser flamingoes (p. minor). Ospreys (pandion haliaetus) are regularly seen. The raffia forests are also home to the palmnut vulture (gypohierax angloensis), a red data species, and the only fruit-eating vulture in the world. The elusive pels fishing owl also frequents the forests and waterways.

Kosi Forest Lodge focuses on birding and has access to some of Zululand’s best birding areas and can provide guided tours. Birds in camp include brown scrub-robin, purple-banded sunbird, flappet lark, livingstone’s turaco, and african wood-owl (at night). With over 420 Species recorded in the area, one can be assured of some great birding in one of South Africa’s most bio-diverse areas.

Most east coast specials and endemics can be found here, including the southern banded snake-eagle, palmnut vulture, crested guineafowl, african finfoot, livingstone’s turaco, pel’s fishing-owl, swamp nightjar, narina trogon, african broadbill, brown scrub-robin, pale-crowned cisticola, woodwards’ batis, blue-mantled crested-flycatcher, purple-banded sunbird and rosy-throated longclaw. Rarities include ayres’s hawk-eagle, crab plover and greater frigatebird.

C0MM0N NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME
AFRICAN COMMON STONE-CHAT Saxicola torquatus AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER Muscicapa adusta
AFRICAN FISH EAGLE Haliaeetus vocifer AFRICAN GREEN PIGEON Treron calva
AFRICAN HARRIER HAWK (Gymnogene) Polyboroides typus AFRICAN RED-EYED BULBUL Pycnonotus nigricans
AFRICAN YELLOW WHITE-EYE Zosterops senegalensis BLACK KITE Milvus migrans
BLACK-BACKED PUFFBACK Dryoscopus cubla BLACK-CROWNED TCHAGRA Tchagra senegala
BLACK-WINGED STILT Himantopus himantopus BROWN-HOODED KINGFISHER Halcyon albiventris
BURCHELL’S COUCAL Centropus burchelli CAPE GLOSSY STARLING Lamprotornis nitens
COLLARED SUNBIRD Hedydipna collaris COMMON FISCAL (Fiscal Shrike) Lanius collaris
CROWNED LAPWING Vanellus coronatus DARK-BACKED (Forest) WEAVER Ploceus bicolor
DARK-CAPPED (Black-eyed) BULBUL Pycnonotus tricolor EMERALD SPOTTED (Green-spotted) WOOD DOVE Turtur chalcospilo
GORGEOUS BUSH SHRIKE Chlorophoneus viridis Green-capped Eremomela Eremomela scotops
GREY HERON Ardea cinerea GREY-HEADED (Grey-hooded) KINGFISHER Halcyon leucocephala
HAMERKOP Scopus umbretta LAUGHING DOVE Streptopelia senegalensis
LITTLE BEE-EATER Merops pusillus MOUNTAIN WAGTAIL Motacilla clara
NATAL FRANCOLIN Pternistes natalensis OLIVE BUSH-SHRIKE Chlorophoneus olivaceus
PIED CROW Corvus albus PURPLE-CRESTED TURACO (Lourie) Musophaga porphyreolopha
RED-CAPPED ROBIN-CHAT (Natal Robin) Cossypha natalensis SOMBRE GREENBUL (Bulbul) Andropadus importunus
SOUTHERN BOUBOU Laniarius ferrugineus SPECKLED MOUSEBIRD Colius striatus
SPUR-WINGED GOOSE Plectropterus gambensis STRIPED KINGFISHER Halcyon chelicuti
TAMBOURINE DOVE Turtur tympanistria TEMMINCK’S COURSER Cursorius temminckii
WATER THICK-KNEE (Dikkop) Burhinus vermiculatus WHITE-FACED DUCK Dendrocygna viduata
WHITE-FRONTED BEE-EATER Merops bullockoides WHITE-THROATED SWALLOW Hirundo albigularis
WOODLAND KINGFISHER Halcyon senegalensis YELLOW-BILLED DUCK Anas undulata
YELLOW-BREASTED APALIS Apalis flavida YELLOW-THROATED LONGCLAW Macronyx croceus

Butterflies & Fish


A particular species of butterfly, a skipper (parnara micans) is regarded as endemic to Kosi Bay. The flame bordered emperor or flame bordered charaxes (protocoled azota) is a red data butterfly species. It is a marginal species that occurs only in Kosi Bay in South Africa and is distributed from South Africa to East Africa.

Kosi Bay supports a great variety of fish and other aquatic fauna due to the different physical characteristics of the lakes. There are eight known red data fish species in the area, most of which have their largest known populations in the Kosi system.

The Tsonga community in the area use traditional fishing methods to harvest the numerous fish species in the estuary. Fish kraals or traps, which have been passed down from father to son, are spread throughout the estuary, providing an important source of protein to the local people and a tourist attraction to Kosi Bay’s many visitors. Good management and the controlled use of resources makes Kosi Bay an excellent example of the concept ‘wise use in action’.

Kosi Bay is famous for its traditional fish traps or kraals, used by the local Tsonga community for centuries, passed down from generation to generation. The kraals are built in the shape of a six and narrow down to a circle in the middle where the fish are trapped and then speared and caught in a basket. All materials used in the traps and baskets are sourced from the local raffia palm.

Vegetation

The Kosi Bay area is of considerable botanical importance with several Red Data species found here. The swamp forests found in this area are the largest in the country and the giant palm raffia australis, on which the palmnut vulture is dependent, is as its natural southern limit here. This is the only area in South Africa where five species of mangrove are found, two of which (luminitzera racemosa and ceriops tagal) are at the southernmost limit of their distribution.

Raffia Palm Forests

The Kosi Bay area is well known for its indigenous raffia forests. These plants flower only twice in their life span once at 20 years and again at 40 years after which they die. The plants can grow up to 16m in height and have some of the longest leaf structures in the world. The fronds of the palm are used to make canoes by the local people which they use on the lakes. They are also used to build the walls and internal structures of their homes.

Enjoy early morning or late afternoon guided walks through the magnificent raffia palm forest. Listen out for the abundant birdcalls and perhaps catch a glimpse of the rare palm-nut vulture, whom we have regular sightings of in the canopy. The raffia palm is the largest palm in the world. This activity is included in stays of one night.