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Limpopo/Shashe Transfrontier Conservation Area
The landscape south of the Limpopo River is flat Mopane veld with sandstone and conglomerate ridges and koppies. Nearer the Limpopo, the flat landscape changes into rugged, hilly terrain. The altitude varies from 300 to 780 m above sea level. In the Tuli Circle Safari Area, the relatively flat basalt landscape gives way to the Shashe River basin running north-south to join the Limpopo River. Other major rivers that cross the proposed TFCA are the Tune and Motloutse rivers in Botswana, and the Mogalakwena River in South Africa.
Three main vegetation communities are recognised in the region: riparian fringe along the Limpopo and Shashe rivers and tributaries; the Acacia-Salvadora community of the Limpopo flats (including flood plains) and vlei areas; and unique baobab and mlala palm stands and mixed western Mopane veld on ridges and flats south of the riparian fringe and flood plains. Both the riparian forest and the Acacia-Salvadora communities are regarded as being among the most endangered vegetation communities in the South African environment. Twenty-six Red Data plant species occur within the Mapungubwe National Park.
Within the Tuli Circle Safari Area there are three botanical reserves: Tolo River (0,44 km2), Pioneer (0,38 km2) and South Camp (0,26 km2).
The region has excellent potential for a “big five” conservation area. Viable populations of lion, leopard, cheetah and spotted hyena still occur, apart from the well-know Tuli elephants. In addition, there are significant populations of ungulates within the area of the proposed TFCA, such as eland, gemsbok, duiker, impala, zebra, Sharpe’s grysbok, steenbok and blue wildebeest. The habitat is also suitable for both white and black rhinoceros, which led to the release of four white rhino into Mapungubwe National Park in 2004. The permanent pools in the Limpopo River offer refuge to crocodiles and hippopotamus as well as a variety of indigenous fish species. De Beers recently reintroduced wild dogs, roan, tsessebe and elephant into the Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve.
This area also has a great diversity of birdlife and over 350 species have been recorded to date. At least eight black eagle breeding pairs have been recorded in the sandstone hills.