On the banks of the Zambezi, great cliffs overhang the river and the floodplains. The area is home to a remarkable concentration of wild animals, including elephants, buffalo, leopards and cheetahs. An important concentration of Nile crocodiles is also be found in the area.
Parc national de Mana Pools, aires de safari Sapi et Chewore
© Nomination File
Outstanding Universal Value
The Mana Pools National Park, Sapi and Chewore Safari Areas World Heritage Site is an area of dramatic landscape and ecological processes. Physically protected by the Zambezi River to the north and the steep escarpment (which rises to over 1,000 m from the valley floor) to the south, this substantial property of 676,600 ha provides shelter for immense congregations of Africa’s large mammal populations which concentrate in its flood plains. The Mana Pools are former channels of the Zambezi River, and ongoing geological processes present a good example of erosion and deposition by a large seasonal river including a clear pattern of plant succession on its alluvial deposits. While black rhino has disappeared since the property’s inscription, huge herds of elephant and buffalo, followed by zebra, waterbuck and many other antelope species and their associated predators including lion and hyena migrate to the area each year during the dry winter months. The river is also famous for its sizeable numbers of hippopotamus and Nile crocodile. Resident and migratory birdlife, with over 450 species recorded, is also abundant. Controlled hunting on quota is permitted in the safari areas.
Criterion (vii): The annual congregation of animals in riparian parkland alongside the broad Zambezi constitutes one Africa's outstanding wildlife spectacles.
Criterion (ix): The 'sand-bank' environment constitutes a good example of erosion and deposition by a large seasonal river (despite changes in river flow due to the Kariba Dam). There is a clear pattern of vegetation succession on the alluvial deposits. Seasonal movements of large mammals within the valley are of great ecological interest both because of interspecies and intraspecies differences.
Criterion (x): At time of inscription the justification for this criterion was that the area is one of the most important refuges for black rhino in Africa as well as a number of other species considered threatened at that time. Today, the black rhino has now disappeared from the reserve although the property still contains important populations of threatened species including elephant and hippopotamus, as well as other threatened species such as lion, cheetah and wild dog. Leopard and brown hyena, classified as near threatened, and a large population of Nile crocodile, are also protected within the property. The area is also considered an important refuge for a number of plants and birds.
The property is composed of three contiguous protected areas comprising the Mana Pools National Park (219,600 ha), Sapi Safari Area (118,000 ha) and Chewore Safari Area (339,000 ha) covering an entire area of 676,600 ha. Three other contiguous conservation areas, although not included in the property, include the Urungwe Safari Area (287,000 ha), Dande Safari Area (52,300 ha) and the Doma Safari Area (76,400 ha). In addition the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia (409,200 ha) is contiguous on the opposite bank of the river. It is considered that the property is relatively intact and adequately sized to maintain natural and functional ecological processes as well as to capture its natural and aesthetic values. Natural barriers created by the Zambezi River to the north and the steep escarpment to the south protect the property from environmental damage and alternative land uses. There is no permanent human habitation within the property.
The greatest threat to the integrity of the property is that the ecology of the river is dominated by the regulating effect of the Kariba Dam. There is also continued threat of the construction of another dam along the Zambezi River in the Mapata Gorge, which would effectively negate the major value of the area. The possibility of oil prospection within the reserve has also been raised.
When the property was inscribed in 1984 it contained about 500 black rhino, although due to poaching by the end of 1994 only ten animals remained. These were removed for safekeeping elsewhere, but poaching remains a problem for rhino re-introduction as well as for other species such as elephant.
Protection and management requirements
The property is legally managed by the Lower Zambezi Valley Parks and Wildlife Area Policy and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Act Cap. 20: 14 of 2008 (revised). This principal legislation provides for legal protection of the resources within the property. The property has a well-defined and buffered boundary which requires physical demarcation. Each of the three areas has functional Park Integrated Management Plans which require adequate staffing and resources for their implementation. A system of regular monitoring of the natural values of the property and on-going programmes to maintain habitats and landforms in their natural state, avoid disturbance and other impacts on wildlife, and to preserve the aesthetic values are in place.
The property requires a World Heritage Property Integrated Management Plan to ensure long term priority for the protection of the natural values and to guard against encroachments and impacts from sport hunting (Sapi Safari Area), poaching, boating along the Zambezi, fishing, campsites/chalets for tourists and other inappropriate development. Management of visitor use to both prevent negative impacts and provide opportunities to experience the value of the property in a sustainable manner is a long-term requirement for the property. Plans are underway to declare the Mana Pools (Zimbabwe) and the Lower Zambezi National Park (Zambia) as a Transfrontier Park which will strengthen the management of the entire area.
On the banks of the Zambezi, great cliffs overhang the river and the floodplains. The area is home to a remarkable concentration of wild animals, including elephants, buffalo, leopards and cheetahs. An important concentration of Nile crocodiles is also be found in the area
Mana Pools, Sapi and Chewore (which total some 6,766 km2 ) are part of the Miombo woodland/savannah biogeographic realm. They front the lower Zambezi River, and include large areas of the rugged Zambezi escarpment (which rises to over 1,000 m from the valley floor). The area contains the last remaining natural stretch of the Middle Zambezi. The Mana Pools are former channels of the Zambezi. Much of the Chewore is heavily dissected and the Mupata Gorge (some 30 km long) occurs along the northern border of this part of the area. Above the Mupata Gorges the river is broad and sandy, flowing through numerous channels, sandbanks and islands.
Well-grassed Brachystegia communities dominate the mountainous escarpment and higher Chewore areas with small but significant riparian communities along the numerous streams. The valley floor is dominated by mopane woodlands or dry highly deciduous thickets known as Jesse. On the younger sandier alluvial deposits along the Zambezi are well-developed tracts of winterthorn with more diverse woodlands containing Kigelia africana and Trichelia emetica on the higher deposits.
The nominated site has a rich and varied fauna with large mammal populations include threatened animals which concentrate on the flood plains during the dry season when water elsewhere is scarce and when the numerous winterthorn trees shed their protein-rich pods. The fauna includes elephant which number in thousands, hippopotamus, lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, spotted hyena, honey badger, warthog, bushpig, plains zebra, and many antelopes including mixed herds of greater kudu, bushbuck, nyala, eland, waterbuck, sable antelope, grysbok and steenbok.
Nile crocodile are numerous. Birdlife on the river and in the bush is prolific with over 380 species recorded including Nyasa lovebird, yellow-spotted nicator, rock pratincole, banded snake-eagle and Livingstone's flycatcher. Common fish include tigerfish, bream, vundu, nkupi, chessa, cornish jack and lungfish.
There are two further contiguous areas, Dande Safari Area (523 km2 ) established in 1968, and the Urungwe Safari Area (2,870 km2 ) established in 1976. Much of the area had been protected as a non-hunting area since 1930.
The area is of limited agricultural potential. There is virtually no permanent human habitation. Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Mana Pools National Park 1963: Chewore Safari Area and Sapi Safari Area 1964: Dande Safari Area 1968: Urungwe Safari Area 1976: no information on Doma Safari Area. Much of the area had been protected as a non-hunting area since 1930. Designated as a World Heritage site in 1984. Source: Advisory Body Evaluation