Water gives us life.
At the southern tip of Africa, people and wildlife depend on an intricate water network.
The Nuwejaars wetlands, and the rivers and underground water arteries that feed them, are at the heart of this network.
A group of worried landowners and Agulhas Plain residents in South Africa saw how these wetlands started disappearing. And how nature and people suffered.
And so we formed the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area.
Today we have 25 landowners, and the town of Elim, working together over 46,000 hectares in the Plain, to protect our water systems, and the biodiversity-rich landscapes all around them. The Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area (or SMA) is a new way of protecting nature and all its complex ecosystems on private land in the Overberg municipal region.
It’s a conservation model new to South Africa.
We’ve committed to conservation and sustainable farming by signing title deed restrictions. That means that we’ll forever protect this biodiversity hotspot, while still supporting food security in South Africa through our sustainable farming. While we’ve tested the model here in the Overberg, it’s now being replicated in other parts of South Africa – with wonderful success.
OUR COVID-19 RESPONSE IN THE NWSMA:
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our connected communities are jobless, and are going hungry. Urgent action is needed.
To help bring stability to people in the Agulhas Plain, we MUST stand together. As the NWSMA, we want to partner with YOU, to bring hope to society. And we can do this THROUGH NATURE.
That’s why we’re launching 2 innovative programmes:
- To provide 30,000 NUTRITIOUS MEALS PER MONTH to the most vulnerable of our communities at Africa’s southernmost tip;
- Creating jobs opportunities
But now we need YOUR help make this dream blossom.
You’ve got to see this area for yourself.
If you love the outdoors, the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area offers a natural world you won’t see anywhere else. It’s a paradise for birders, with the Agulhas Plains birding project identifying 235 species. There are a range of places to overnight – from more rustic and private accommodation, to luxurious homes and cottages. The Nuwejaars Wetlands members include wineries in the Elim Wine Route.
Our Nuwejaars Wetlands Wildlife Guided Tours
Experience the magical natural world of the Nuwejaars Wetlands. Join our Wildlife Guided Tours, close to Africa’s southernmost tip. TOURS RUN TWICE A DAY, EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK.
See big game ‘up close’, like Buffalo and Hippo (both reintroduced here, after being hunted to extinction 200 years ago). See smaller game, like Bontebok and Rau Quagga. Wonder through bursts of ethereal colours in our Fynbos landscapes. Or enjoy this birding hotspot, with species like Black Harriers and Blue Cranes.
The Wildlife Guided Tours are hosted by the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area, and are led by a trained guide. (And be sure to bring your camera, binoculars, walking shoes, and maybe your raincoat, just in case.)
Our Nuwejaars Wetlands Wildlife Guided Tours are suspended:
In the light of the threat of the #Coronavirus, the NWSMA team has cancelled the Wildlife Tours for the time being; as well as our Environmental Education tours. We’ll keep a close eye as to when we can relaunch these.
During these uneasy and testing times, we hope that you’ll stay safe.
Here’s the schedule:
Morning Wildlife Tour
(R350/person, and half price for children aged 12 and under)
Meet at the Black Oystercatcher at 8.30am, for a 2-3 hour trip through the Nuwejaars Wetlands SMA, including coffee and rusks – overseen by our trained guide.
Sunset Wildlife Tour
(R400/person, and half price for children aged 12 and under)
Meet at the Black Oystercatcher at 5pm, for a 2 hour trip to a lovely, secretive lake, including sundowners at this sunset viewpoint. Hippos live in this lake, and could pop by for a visit (this trip is overseen by our trained guide).
THE TOURS RUN THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, 7 DAYS A WEEK (except on 24 & 25 December, and 1 January).
Booking is essential
076 833 6341
School outings to experience the Nuwejaars nature
(PLEASE NOTE: OUR SCHOOL OUTINGS ARE ALSO TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED, AND WILL RELAUNCH WHEN IT IS SAFE TO DO SO).
The Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area is home to awe-inspiring animals and plants. That’s why we want to showcase our natural world, to provide children with the chance to experience these wonders for themselves.
From rural farm schools, to larger Overberg-based schools, we’re hosting outings for school groups to connect with nature. Children can enjoy a full outdoors programme organised by our Nuwejaars team, which includes safe, age-appropriate and interactive lessons and adventures.
Why is the Agulhas Plain so important?
The Cape Floral Kingdom covers much of the landscape around the Nuwejaars wetlands and rivers.
Highly threatened lowland fynbos grows here – home to plant species found nowhere else in the world.
This critical habitat also gives life to globally threatened birds. Birds like the Southern Black Korhaan, Secretarybird and Hottentot Buttonquail thrive here.
That’s why the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area forms part of an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.
The Special Management Area is the original home of the Bontebok – once nearly extinct. Now we’ve brought them back.
And we’ve reintroduced Buffalo, Hippo and Hartebeest – once extinct on the Agulhas Plain.
For the FIRST TIME, a detailed study has sought to capture the number of Agulhas Long-billed Larks (Certhilauda brevirostris) that remain in the world today.The Agulhas Plain is a stronghold for
Farmer Liohan Giliomee (a member of the Nuwejaars SMA) saw them for the first time at 2.30 in the morning. He was preparing his land to plant grain on it.
If we know how animals are moving across the landscape, we can protect those secret corridors they make use of. And it allows us to improve highly degraded corridor links, in order to reconnect
“2019 must surely go down as one of the most exciting years for the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area. Globally this has been a time of extreme loss: natural habitats are being removed