LEGAL IMPLICATIONS FOR THE NDUMO GAME RESERVE AND SOUTH AFRICAN-MOZAMBIQUE BORDER FOLLOWING THE MIGRATION OF THE USUTHU RIVER

Andy Blackmore

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

 

Abstract:

The Usuthu River (or Rio Maputu) forms the international boundary between South Africa and Mozambique, from the Mozambique-Swaziland-South Africa boundary intersect in the west, to the confluence of the Usuthu and Pongola Rivers. From this confluence eastwards, the international boundary proceeds as a line following the parallel, all the way to the coast and beyond. The establishment of this boundary has a deep history extending back to 1861, when Navy Captain Bickford declared the area of Mozambique stretching southwards from the Inhaca and Elephant islands as British territory. The resulting dispute lodged by the Portuguese Government was finally resolved when the present boundary was awarded by President Marshal MacMahon of France on 19 April 1875. In 1888 a joint boundary commission composed of representatives of the United Kingdom, Portugal, Swaziland, and the South African Republic agreed to the award which eventually was codified in Article III of an Anglo–Portuguese treaty of 1891. The Ndumo Nature Reserve’s northern fence corresponds with this boundary. Recently the Usuthu River partially breached its bank within Ndumo, and began flowing in a southward meander before re-joining the original alignment of the river via the Bhanzi Pan and Pongola River, some 5 to 7 km downstream. In this paper, the history of this Mozambican-South African boundary and the legal consequences of the migration of the Usuthu River within its shared floodplain with the Pongola River, with respect to the international boundary, are detailed. The paper also discusses the consequences for the Ndumo Game Reserve and its status as a Ramsar site. Finally the paper investigates the legality and ecological viability of various “solutions” that have been proposed to resolve the growing diplomatic concerns between the two countries.

 

Presentation Topic:
LEGAL IMPLICATIONS FOR THE NDUMO GAME RESERVE AND SOUTH AFRICAN-MOZAMBIQUE BORDER FOLLOWING THE MIGRATION OF THE USUTHU RIVER
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