Full information on Swaziland’s Ramsar Sites

Full information on Swaziland’s Ramsar Sites

21 October 2016


Van Eck Dam

Swaziland has provided detailed information on its three Ramsar Sites. They are all associated with man-made reservoirs which are important for water management and for the critical species which they support.


Hawane Dam and Nature Reserve (Ramsar Site no. 2121) is a protected area along the Mbuluzi River which covers the whole Hawane reservoir (which supplies water to the city of Mbabane) and its surroundings. The reservoir is host to a variety of waterbirds, whereas the swamp supports a small but critical population of the endemic and regionally critically endangered plant Kniphofia umbrina. The reserve’s main attraction is its wealth of birdlife, and a trail is provided for bird-watching. Bird species include the lanner falcon (Falco biarmicus), Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca), pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), white-faced whistling duck (Dendrocygna viduata) and wattled crane (Bugeranus carunculatus). Overgrazing by livestock and transformation of grasslands to agricultural fields is increasingly affecting the area, while the lack of proper solid waste management systems may be resulting in effluent discharge into the Hawane Dam.


Sand River Dam (Site no. 2122) is situated in the Lubombo district within the IYSIS cattle ranch which is privately owned by Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (RSSC). The reservoir is a major magnet for waterfowl and other waterbirds, particularly when water levels are low. The lowveld of Swaziland is relatively arid with few naturally-occurring wetlands other than riparian strips along rivers. The waterbird community of this region, therefore, relies heavily on a handful of artificial wetlands. Sand River Dam regularly supports over 20 waterbird species and regularly harbours more than 500 individual birds. This makes it the second most important wetland in the country in terms of waterbird abundance. It is a critical site for a number of threatened species, including the critically endangered hooded vulture Necrosyrtes monachus and African white-backed vulture Gyps africanus.



Sand River Dam

Van Eck Dam (Site no. 2123) is situated within the Mhlosinga Nature Reserve in the Lubombo district, about a kilometre north-west of Big Bend. When water levels are low, the reservoir is a major magnet for waterfowl and other waterbirds. A number of globally threatened and near-threatened species have been recorded at Van Eck Dam, including the martial eagle Polemaetus bellicosus and the critically endangered African white-backed vulture Gyps africanus, both of which have bred on or very close to Mhlosinga Nature Reserve. Several other raptor species regularly breed at Mhlosinga, including the African fish eagle Haliaeetus vocifer and African goshawk Accipiter tachiro. Nile crocodile and South African rock python, both of which are listed as threatened nationally, are found at Van Eck Dam, as well as the globally threatened hippopotamus.