Conservation value of the Red Desert Nature Reserve

The Red desert Nature Reserve is an approximately 180 ha property in the Port Edward region of the Ray Nkonyeni municipality (formerly Hibiscus Coast municipality).

It is a public /private partnership and the properties are owned by the Ray Nkonyeni municipality and Mrs V.E Williams

The area contains a significant area of “Critically Endangered” Pondoland-Natal Sandstone Coastal Sourveld. The vegetation type forms a critical component of the Pondoland Centre of Plant Endemism of the Maputaland-Pondoland Region, having a significant diversity of endemic plant species found nowhere else in the country.

The grasslands are generally very diverse and have an excellent range of grasses and other forbs, notably populations of sugarbushes (Protea spp.)

An important species is Phylica natalensis, a rare and vulnerable species which occurs in the largest known population on the Red Desert Nature Reserve. 

Conservation value of the Red Desert Nature Reserve

  •  Part of the Maputaland – Pondoland – Albany Hotspot.
  •  Part of the Pondoland Centre of Endemism – centre of plant diversity.
  •  Unique geology - Msikaba sandstone formation.
  •  Pondoland – Ugu Sandstone Coastal Sourveld (CB 4).
  •  RDNR within two of the KZN Threatened Ecosystems –
    1. Oribi Port Edward Pondoland Ugu Sourveld (KZN 33).
    2. Southern Coastal Grasslands (KZN 18).
  • Range of Habitats - grassland, forests, wetlands, cliffs, desert, mangroves, streams, river, lagoon & estuary.
  • One of few remaining protected areas of grassland in SKZN.
  • > 480 species of plants recorded to date, many listed in the SANBI Red Data List as being under some degree of threat
  • +/- 200 bird species recorded.
  • Presence of Early, Mid & Late Stone Age (Sangoan) artefacts (from about 300 000 years before present) amongst the Red Desert yardangs is of historical, cultural and heritage importance.
  • Easy access to serve as a Tourism Asset for the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality.