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Seekoievlei Nature Reserve, Memel, Free State

Winding Wetlands in the Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve, South AfricaSee Hippopotamus and a huge variety of rare wetland birds at the 5000ha Seekoievlei (Hippo Dam) Nature Reserve, including no less than 14 species on the Red List. The Reserve surrounds a RAMSAR site wetland on the leading edge of the Drakensberg escarpment in the north Eastern Free State Highveld, just north of the town of Memel, near the border with Mpumalanga & Kwazulu Natal.

Seekoievlei is 27km long and ranges up to a kilometre in width in some parts, featuring several ‘oxbow’ lakes, and provides a crucial habitat for many of South Africa’s endangered wetland bird species aswell as many other endemic and migratory species. Initially preserved in response to agricultural degradation as it is a major catchment area for Gauteng, it has in a few short years become an example of what should be done at a time when conservation efforts are becoming extremely urgent to save what is left of the world’s wetlands, wetland species…and water supplies!

Once endemic to the area, Hippos became locally extinct in the late 1890’s but have been reintroduced to the reserve along with a number of other native mammal and bird species. Notable among the latter is the Mahem – or Grey Crowned Crane.

There are basic picnic and braai facilities and three bird hides.

The area around Seekoeivlei is high altitude at 2000m and very green and rural. Other smaller wetlands are interspersed along the winding Klip River which drains Seekoeivlei and runs west through grazing land in-between hills, outcrops and between rock plateaus – eventually reaching Johannesburg.

Getting there: Memel is situated north of Harrismith on the R34.

More info on the quaint town of Memel More info on the Eastern Free State area

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