Hlane and Mlawula Game Reserves

Country/territory: Eswatini

IBA criteria met: A2, A3 (1998)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 40,000 ha

Site description (baseline)
These two reserves are situated in north-eastern Swaziland, c.12 km south of the town of Lomahasha and 20 km north of Siteki. The reserve complex covers the northern portion of the Lubombo range (up to the Mozambique border) and the plains to the west. The major part of the area lies at low altitude. The vegetation is predominantly mixed bushveld in Hlane and dry thornveld, open grassland and moist woodland in Mlawula. Trees of Acacia, Sclerocarya, Combretum and Dichrostachys are widespread and common. In the west of Hlane the bushveld is predominantly evergreen and the herbaceous layer is seasonal. In the lower-lying eastern Hlane and western Mlawula area, drier Acacia savanna dominates. There is some highly localized sandveld, which is dominated by Terminalia, Strychnos and Perotis. The riverine vegetation differs quite substantially from the surrounding woodland and is dominated by Schotia, Ficus and Acacia, and locally by dense stands of Spirostachys and Euclea. Ravines in the Lubombo range support dense moist forest, and the plateau is covered by open grassland savanna.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. This is the only reserve complex in Swaziland holding breeding Torgos tracheliotus and Trigonoceps occipitalis. Gyps coprotheres is seen regularly, and it is suspected that the breeding colony in nearby Mozambique regularly obtains much of its food from this area. Gyps africanus also breeds here in important numbers; 26 pairs nest at Mlawula, and at least triple that number at Hlane (Monadjem in press). Other important raptor populations include breeding Aquila rapax, Polemaetus bellicosus and Terathopius ecaudatus. The sand forests and riparian fringes hold Hypargos margaritatus, Lamprotornis corruscus and Nectarinia veroxii. The surrounding bushveld and savanna support Poicephalus cryptoxanthus, Cossypha humeralis, Eremomela usticollis and Telophorus quadricolor.

Non-bird biodiversity: This complex holds the endemic cycads Encephalartos lebomboensis (Rare) and E. umbeluziensis (VU). The latter is highly localized and extends just across the international border into Mozambique. Two other highly range-restricted plants, Aloe keithii (VU) and Euphorbia keithii, occur here. Leptotyphlops telloi and Platysaurus lebomboensis, two very range-restricted reptiles, found only in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland and Mozambique, occur in the Lubombo sector of Mlawula Game Reserve. The endangered mammal Ceratotherium simum (LR/cd) has been reintroduced.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Hlane and Mlawula Game Reserves. Downloaded from on 03/06/2023.