The Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot (MPA) is a biodiversity hotspot, a biogeographic region with significant levels of biodiversity, in Southern Africa. It is situated near the south-eastern coast of Africa, occupying an area between the Great Escarpment and the Indian Ocean. The area is named after Maputaland, Pondoland and Albany. It stretches from the Albany Centre of Plant Endemism in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, through the Pondoland Centre of Plant Endemism and KwaZulu-Natal Province, the eastern side of Swaziland and into southern Mozambique and Mpumalanga. The Maputaland Centre of Plant Endemism is contained in northern KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique.
This ecoregion covers globally all the humid subtropical climate zones of Africa (the latter being located almost exclusively in South Africa), an area of 274,136 km2 (105,845 sq mi). It forms a broad coastal strip extending from the extreme south of Mozambique and north-east of Mpumalanga to the east of Eastern Cape Province in South Africa, including the Wild Coast. It also includes eastern Swaziland and borders southern and eastern Lesotho. It consists of three regions more or less biologically close but each with its own characteristics. Maputaland (also known as Tongaland) refers to the southern part of Mozambique, Swaziland and northern KwaZulu-Natal, Pondoland includes central and southern KwaZulu-Natal, and Albany is the eastern part of Eastern Cape.
The terrain in this region is complex, providing a great diversity of landscapes with varied reliefs. It encompasses the southeast of the Great Escarpment and down to the edge of the Indian Ocean. As a result, this ecoregion includes much of the Drakensberg range, especially in the south and centre of the area. One of the best-watered areas in South Africa, a large part of the area receives on average between 750 and 1,000 mm (30 and 39 in) per year and the Kwazulu-Natal coasts as well as parts of the Drakensberg exceed the annual 1,000 mm (39 in). The northern part of the area consists mainly of medium and lowland plains with areas of ancient sand dunes, while the southern part has more rugged terrain with many cliffs cut by multiple streams. Inland, there are several ranges of mountain which include Sneeuberge, Winterberg, Amathole Mountains, Ngeli Range, Lebombo Mountains and Ngoye Range.
The vegetation cover is mainly composed of forests, shrubland, bushveld and meadows. About 80% of the remaining forests of South Africa occur in this region, and nearly 600 species of trees are represented here, the highest diversity of any temperate forest in the world. Among the large number of plants in this ecoregion, about 1900 are endemic. The Albany region also has a great diversity of succulent plants, notably arborescent plants, differing from the leafy succulent species of the Karoo desert.
Although the hotspot was originally envisaged as referring to the wide diversity of vascular plant species, the pattern of plant endemism is matched by numerous endemic vertebrates. The degree of endemism among plants in this hotspot is 23.5% whereas the degree of endemism among vertebrates is 5.1% and near-endemism 4.9%. If the area of the hotspot was redefined as the "Greater Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany" area, an increase of 73%, to include the Great Escarpment area, the vertebrate endemism would total 146 species (19 freshwater fishes, 29 amphibians, 75 reptiles, 15 birds and 8 mammals), a figure 135% higher than the 62 vertebrate species for the MPA as presently defined.
Most of the endemic vertebrates in the ecoregion inhabit the forests and grasslands, and many have niche habitat requirements such as rocky outcrops or marshy areas within these larger biomes; the Sloggett's vlei rat and the Natal red rock hare are quite widespread in the area while the woodbush legless skink and the robust golden mole have narrower habitat requirements.
The endemic plants found in the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot include:
The Albany Centre of Plant Endemism is situated in the coastal region of South Africa at the eastern end of the Eastern Cape Province. It is named after the district of Albany and falls within the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot. It is notable for its biodiversity and unique, endemic flora and fauna.The Albany area is of extreme ecological importance because of its unique indigenous vegetation, composed of deep, lush "Albany thickets". Albany thicket is an ecoregion and biodiversity hotspot of dense woodland, containing many endemic species. Ecologically it forms part of the greater Cape Floristic Region. The coastal belt has a temperate climate, with winter rainfall of 500 to 700 mm (20 to 28 in) per annum or more. In the interior, the terrain is mostly dry Karoo and grasslands.Aloe thraskii
Aloe thraskii (Dune Aloe) is a South African plant in the genus Aloe.Brachylaena discolor
Brachylaena discolor is a species of flowering plant in the aster family, Asteraceae. It is native to Africa, where it occurs in Mozambique, South Africa, and Eswatini. Its common names include coast silver oak and coastal silver oak.Deinbollia oblongifolia
Deinbollia oblongifolia is a shrub or small tree in the family Sapindaceae. It is commonly known as the dune soap-berry and is found in coastal vegetation from the Eastern Cape of South Africa, through KwaZulu-Natal to southern Mozambique and Swaziland. It is named after Peter Vogelius Deinboll (1783-1876), a Danish botanist and plant collector.Isoglossa woodii
Isoglossa woodii, commonly known as buckweed, is a monocarpic shrub of the family Acanthaceae, growing up to 4 m tall. It grows in colonies in coastal forest areas of KwaZulu-Natal and marginally into Eastern Cape, South Africa.Maputaland
Maputaland is a natural region of Southern Africa. It is located in the northern part of the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa between Eswatini and the coast. In a wider sense it may also include the southernmost region of Mozambique. The bird routes and coral reefs off the coast are major tourist attractions.
Now the name of this traditional region is being revived for the Maputaland-Pondoland bushland and thickets, one of the ecoregions of South Africa, as well as for the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot.Maputaland-Pondoland bushland and thickets
The Maputaland-Pondoland bushland and thickets is one of the ecoregions of South Africa. It consists of the montane shrubland Biome. The ecoregion occupies the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains, covering an area of 19,500 square kilometers (7,500 sq mi) in South Africa's Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. It is bounded on the east by the KwaZulu-Cape coastal forest mosaic, which lies in the humid coastal strip along the Indian Ocean; to the west it is bounded by the higher-elevation Drakensberg montane grasslands, woodlands and forests. To the south, it transitions to the drier Albany thickets, which are characterized by more succulent and spiny plants.
The ecoregion has a dry subtropical climate. Rainfall varies from 800 mm to 450 mm per year, with approximately three-quarters of the rain falling in the warm summer months between October and March. Frosts are rare because of the moderating influence of the Indian Ocean.
The typical vegetation is sclerophyll evergreen shrubs, which form dense, closed canopy thickets up to six meters in height. The ecoregion, which is in a transition between moist and dry, montane and lowland, and temperate and tropical, has a rich diversity of species, although with few endemics. The ecoregion is home to a variety of animal species, including endangered black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) and white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum).Maputaland Centre of Plant Endemism
The Maputaland Centre of Plant Endemism is situated in the coastal region of South Africa in the northern part of the province of KwaZulu-Natal, and also includes the southernmost part of Mozambique. It forms part of the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot. It is notable for its biodiversity and unique, endemic flora and fauna.Millettia grandis
Millettia grandis is a species of legume in the family Fabaceae from South Africa. It is commonly called Umzimbeet which is a name derived from the isiZulu name umSimbithwa.Pondoland
Pondoland is a natural region on the South African shores of the Indian Ocean. It is located in the coastal belt of the Eastern Cape province. Its territory is the former Pondo Kingdom and the traditional region of the Pondo people, one of the Xhosa people groups.Pondoland Centre of Plant Endemism
The Pondoland Centre of Plant Endemism is situated in the coastal region overlapping the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape in South Africa. It is named after Pondoland and falls within the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot. The region consists of grassy plateaus incised by forested ravines and gorges. The main substrate in the area is Natal Group Sandstone, which was formed by sediments laid down about 500 million years ago in a rift underlying the eastern Agulhas Sea in the ancient continent of Gondwana. The region is about 18,800 hectares in extent, and lies along the coastline stretching about 15 kilometres inland with a maximum altitude of about 400 to 500 metres above sea level. The region is essentially a transition zone between sub-tropical and temperate climates.Wildlife of Mozambique
The wildlife of Mozambique consists of the flora and fauna of this country in southeastern Africa.
Mozambique has a range of different habitat types and an ecologically rich and diverse wildlife. This includes 236 species of mammal, 740 species of bird and 5,692 species of vascular plant. The Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany hotspot, with significantly high levels of biodiversity, stretches from the southern tip of Mozambique into northeastern South Africa.