Mapungubwe - A World Heritage Site

Mystical Mapungubwe
Mystical Mapungubwe

The Mapungubwe World Heritage Site is a place of great cultural significance, raw beauty and extremely ancient rocks. It is situated within the Mapungubwe National Park in South Africa’s Limpopo Province, at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers, a place where the borders of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe meet.

It is currently under enormous threat from an open cast coal mine, possibly the forerunner of more.

The Kingdom of Mapungubwe, the site of which is still under exploration by archeologists, is a legendary place. Its surroundings carry the history of more than 50 000 years of human settlement. Stone-age humans and hunter-gatherers were followed by inhabitants of the iron-age, which saw the development of the Zhizo and Leopards Kopje people. Conclusive evidence exists of these communities trading with far flung parts of the world. They pioneered farming, gold mining and the manufacture of gold ornaments and jewelry. What eventually, in about 1220 AD, became the Kingdom of Mapungubwe, is also inextricably linked with dynasty of Great Zimbabwe. No wonder that South Africa’s highest award, the first recipient thereof being Nelson Mandela, is called ‘The Order of Mapungubwe.’

The enormous value of Mapungubwe and the surrounding land within South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, has been recognised by the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Minister van Schalkwyk, who, along with his counterparts in the other countries, signed an MOU in June 2006, which gave impetus to the development of the Limpopo-Shashe Transfrontier Conservation Area. This TFCA, of which Mapungubwe is an integral part, is now close to coming into official existence and is the home to huge herds of elephants, wild dog, cheetah, leopard, lion and many other wild animal, bird and plant species.

This formation of this TFCA creates a major stepping stone towards the eventual vision of a conservation area that would extend from Mozambique, Kruger Park and South East Zimbabwe, through much of Limpopo Province and onwards into Southern Zimbabwe and the Tuli Block in Botswana. This area has the potential to become one of the greatest conservation areas on earth, opening up the old animal corridors from East to West and helping to solve problems related to elephant populations and the lack of gene flow.! Sadly, coal mines and related developments may cause the premature demise of this infant TFCA as well as the bigger dream.

The Kruger Park is only 100 years old. We know what that institution is worth to South Africa, both historically and into the future, in terms of attracting foreign tourists and thus foreign exchange. So, as the world’s population spirals upwards, and green spaces spiral downwards, what long-term value that can possibly be placed on Mapungubwe and Limpopo-Shashe TFCA and the areas it will link to? Yes, mines will create short-term jobs for workers and profits for the businessmen, but nothing like those created through long-term tourism.

Please review this small website and, if you believe it is your duty, then use the facility it provides to lodge your official complaint against the Trashing of Mapungubwe and its TFCA by the mining industry.