THE MOSI-OA-TUNYA FALLS WORLD HERITAGE SITE
The Mosi-oa-tunya falls are of unique aesthetic and
geologic/ geomorphologic value and deemed one of the seven natural wonders of
the World. They are found at the border area between
The world heritage site is underlain by a thick layer of basalt overlain with thin layers of chalcedony and silicified sandstone. The sandstone is overlain by the Kalahari sands which are windblown, generally structureless, coarse textured and susceptible to erosion.
The falls are located in the low latitude tropics and
have a sub-tropical climate, with marked seasonal variation in temperature and
rainfall. Summers are hot and wet, whilst winters are mild and dry. Rainfall
patterns over the whole
Physical and Biological Resources
The world heritage site has six vegetation types: mopane woodland, riparian vegetation, munga woodland, mixed scrubland, Kalahari woodland, and swamp vegetation.
More dense riparian woodland occurs along the river
bank. This riparian vegetation is dominated by the large species of Diospyros mespiliformis (Jackalberry).
Other important trees that occur within the riparian woodland include Trichilia emetica (
The so-called rainforest is a special section of the riparian forest, which is maintained by the spray pf the Mosi-oa-tunya falls. Several rare species of herbaceous plants occur in this forest but unfortunately, the forest has been invaded by a number of exotic species, such as Lantana camara (lantana or tickberry) and Opuntia ficus-indica (pricky pear).
Approximately 30 species of medium-sized and large
mammals occur in the National park and natural areas surrounding the
Mosi-oa-tunya falls. The Chacma baboons and Vervet monkeys are common around
the falls area. Many groups of Hippopotamus occur upstream of the falls. During
the dry season elephants, and occasionally buffaloes cross the
Over 400 bird species have been recorded in the Victoria
Falls World Heritage site, of which 25% are water birds (Meynell et al., 1996).
The riparian area upstream of the falls is an important habitat for many of
these bird species. Uncommon water birds that have recorded in the upstream
areas include African finfoot and African skimmer, and islands in the river are
important breeding areas for the African skimmers. The black cheeked lovebird,
species only found from the Victoria Falls westwards to southwest
The fish populations upstream of the falls are
distinctly different from those occurring downstream in the gorges. Eighty four
species have been recorded upstream of the falls and 64 downstream, with 30
species common to both zones. Subsistence fishing is common of the
A total of 69 reptiles and 23 amphibian species have
been recorded within the
World Heritage Status
There are a number of tourism activities in the Mosi-oa-tunya world heritage site namely, viewing, rafting, kayaking, gorge swing, Bungi jumping, canoeing, jetty boating and lunar rainbow viewing. Peak visitation to the site correlates with peak flow of the falls. This occurs between December and May. Lunar viewing happens during the same time as it depends on the spray when the river is at peak.
Rafting starts when the waters on the
The arrangement of the gorges makes the falls one of the few water falls in the world that can be viewed directly from the front over a stretch of approximately about 800m.