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The Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot

This Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany hotspot covers an area 274,136 sq km and lies along the east coast of South Africa extending into Mozambique. Vegetation in the region includes Licuáti forests, thickets, bushveld and grasslands.

The hotspot has 8,100 plant, 194 mammal, 541 bird, 209 reptile, 72 amphibian and 73 freshwater fish species. A quarter of the plants found in this region are endemics and include plants like the bird-of-paradise flower (Strelitzia reginae), Christmas bells (Sandersonia aurantiaca) and nearly half of the 40 species of red hot poker (Kniphofia spp).

Endemic species of birds in the region include Rudd's apalis (Apalis ruddi), pink-throated twinspot (Hypargos margaritatus), Neergaard's sunbird (Nectarinia neergaardi) and the lemon-breasted seedeater (Serinus citrinipectus).

Endemic mammalian inhabitants include the red bush squirrel (Paraxerus palliates), the four-toed elephant shrew (Petrodromus tetradactylus), Marley's golden mole (Amblysomus marleyi) and the giant golden mole (Chrysospalax trevelyani). Other notable mammals are the white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) and the blue duiker (Philantomba monticola). Species of reptiles unique to the region include the Natal black snake (Macrelaps microlepidotus), Natal hinged tortoise (Kinixys natalensis), Albany adder (Bitis albanica) and the Tasman's girdled lizard (Cordylus tasmani). Amphibian species endemic to the hotspot are the soprano or whistling frog (Breviceps sopranos), which utters a long high-pitched whistle, Pickersgill's reed frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli) and the Natal banana frog (Afrixalus spinifrons).

The region has interesting invertebrates like the velvet worms which look like caterpillars walking with their bodies held raised up on their legs, giant earthworms that grow to a length of 2.5 meters and many rare varieties of dung beetles.

Threats to this hotspot come from plantation, commercial forestry, urbanisation, conversion of trees to charcoal, invasive alien plant species and mining. About 8% or 23,051 sq km of land is under some form of official protection.

Conservation initiatives like the Subtropical Thicket Ecosystem Planning and the setting up of 218 conservation reserves in the KwaZulu-Natal region covering an area of 1.5 million ha have helped raise awareness among different stakeholders about the need for conservation.

[The information has been sourced from the Conservation International website on biodiversity hotspots ( Accessed in February 2008.]

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