Red Desert Nature Reserve
The Red Desert Nature Reserve is a 180 ha Biodiversity Stewardship Nature Reserve and a public private partnership between Mrs V. Williams and the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality.
This reserve includes the well known Red Desert which is arguably the world’s smallest desert.
This lies some 5 kilometres south west of the town and is only 200 m in diameter and 11 hectares in its entirety.
The reserve is primarily a botanical reserve as it encompasses critically endangered Pondoland-Ugu Sandstone Sourveld vegetation with a high number of endemic species.
Several mammal species are recorded and over 200 bird species.
Archaeological artifacts going back hundreds of thousands of years can be found and the locals are pleased this is now an internationally protected heritage site.
The origin of the desert lies in its past land use leading to overgrazing followed by erosion by the wind and rain.
After the Stone Age people used the site for manufacturing hand tools, King Shaka the legendary King of the Zulus raided the Xhosa speaking Pondo peoples cattle and brought them back to this site probably contributing to erosion. In later years commercial farmers also kept cattle here possibly also contributing to the erosion.
Consequently the terrain became severely over grazed and subsequently eroded by wind and rain leading to the desertification.
Go hiking, birding, botanising or hit the trail on mountain bike and check out the magnificent view over the Umtamvuna Estuary from the cliff top.