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In Numbers

Situated in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal, the Mfolozi Headwaters supplies water to Richards Bay, eSikhawini and Vryheid.

Size: 115 504 ha

Main Rivers

The Black Mfolozi, Pongola and Lenjane rivers are the main rivers which flow from Mfolozi Headwaters. It feeds a number of free-flowing rivers including the Mkuze, Nsonge, Nondweni, Ngogo, Mfule and Nyalazi.

Did You Know?

  • The Black Mfolozi, a flagship river, flows freely for more than 100km.
  • Coal fields in Vryheid are located within the Mfolozi Headwaters. This places considerable pressure on the ecological and hydrological functioning of this water source area.
  • Three Ramsar sites; Kosi Bay, Lake Sibaya and St Lucia fall within this water source area.
  • Agriculture is the largest water user in this area, predominantly for sugarcane and forestry.


Land Use (in %)

  • Mining 0.02%
  • Wetlands 0.34%
  • Urban 4.64%
  • Cultivation (irrigated) 0.63%
  • Waterbodies 0.04%
  • Plantation/Woodlot 23.00%
  • Cultivation (dryland) 7.86%
  • Natural 63.46%

1% Protected Areas

Only 1% of the Mfolozi Headwaters is protected. This section falls within the Hluhluwe-Mfolozi Game Reserve.

  • 1

Threat Status

  • River Ecosystems
  • Wetland Ecosystems

River Ecosystems

A significant portion (63%) of this water source area is in natural condition.

  • 1% Critically Endangered
  • 19% Endangered
  • 58% Vulnerable
  • 42% Least Threatened

Wetland Ecosystems

Only 1% of wetland ecosystems are critically endangered and 19% is endangered. Up to 72% of wetland ecosystems are least threatened.

  • 1% Critically Endangered
  • 19% Endangered
  • 7% Vulnerable
  • 72% Least Threatened


Only 1% of the Mfolozi Headwaters is protected and no expansion of protection is planned in terms of the National Protected Areas Expansion Strategy. Coal mining and plantations (23%) are foremost threats to this water source area. Which legal mechanism can restrict or prohibit a number of activities, based on environmental impact?

Interactive Map

South Africa has 22 water source areas spread across five provinces (KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Limpopo). The total size of our water source areas is 12.32 million hectares. A number of these areas extend and are shared with Lesotho and Swaziland; approximately 1.91 million hectares in Lesotho and 0.93 million hectares in Swaziland.

The total volume of water supplied by these areas per year is approximately 2 457 million cubic metres. The greatest volume of recharge is generated by the Southern Drakensberg, followed by the Eastern Cape Drakensberg and the Boland Mountains.