Tillietudlem Nature Reserve

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Tillietudlem Nature Reserve

It is with immense pride that we announce the official declaration of Tillietudlem Nature Reserve.

Steve McKean (Director of Conservation Outcomes) and Bazil Roth (Operations Manager of Tillietudlem Nature Reserve)


When the owner first walked onto Tillietudlem Farm 25 years ago, it was in a very poor state. Much of the farm was overgrown with alien pants. Namely Wattle trees, which covered all the streams. Large stands of Bramble threatened to take over the grassland. Even in this dilapidated state he fell in love with the land. His vision was to return it to its natural glory; this started a 25 year journey of hard work and sacrifice.

A perimeter fence was erected around the 2000 hectare farm, and the internal cattle fences were removed. Streams were cleared, wetlands restored and dams built. The land use was changed from intensive stock and crop agriculture to conservation. Indigenous game animals which historically occurred here like eland, wildebeest, Blesbuck and zebra were reintroduced. Smaller game species which already occurred on the farm were under immense pressure from poaching, so anti-poaching scouts were appointed. Over the years these species increased in numbers again. The greatest amount of time, money and effort however, was and is spent on clearing alien plants. With this change in land use Tillietudlem Farm became Tillietudlem Nature Reserve.

While engaged in all this work he also came to realise the immense ecological importance of the land. Tillietudlem falls within a vegetation type known as Moist Mistbelt Grassland, which is one of the most threatened eco-systems in the world despite it being one of the richest and most diverse. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife classifies Tillietudlem as irreplaceable in terms of its conservation potential. It is also a designated Biodiversity Stewardship Site, and falls within the five year protected area expansion plan.


The value of Tillietudlem is mostly due to the endemic and endangered species which occur here. These include the blue swallow, Pennington’s Protea butterfly and the long toed tree frog. Tillietudlem also forms an important stepping stone between other Nature Reserves in the area, and the possibility exists to link Tillietudlem with reserves such as Impendle to consolidate important habitat for species such as Blue Swallow and Oribi. Furthermore Tillietudlem is recognised by BirdlifeSA as an Important Bird Area (IBA) and is therefore recognised internationally for its importance as a site for bird conservation. But probably the most valuable aspect is that Tillietudlem forms part of the upper catchment of the Elands River, and is therefore vital in the soil stability, ground water recharge and water supply regulation linked to the entire uMkomazi River system.

It is for the above reasons that owner has decided to permanently secure the future of the land by declaring it a Nature Reserve under the Protected Areas Act. This means the land can only be used for conservation, and that it may never return to intensive agriculture, even under new ownership.

So after 25 years of hard work and sacrifice, Tillietudlem Nature Reserve now becomes Tillietudlem Nature Reserve. 


You can find the Tillietudlem Nature Reserve in the Boston Dargle Impendle Tourism Route. Just a 2 hours drive from Durban. An excellent friends and family getaway!

Lori Voss


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