The Matusadona Protection Area is essentially the Matusadona National Park. Communal areas, some of which are selected CAMPFIRE programme areas, border it. The northern boundary is the Lake Kariba surface which is also Lake Kariba Recreational Park. The receding lake exposes land, and it becomes part of the Park. However, officially designated islands such as Fothergill and Spurwing are exceptions.
Landform, Geology & Soils
The Matusadona National Park is dominated by the Zambezi Valley escarpment and nearly 60% of the Park is upland area or broken and rugged escarpment areas. Lowland flat land comprises nearly 40% of the Park and is traversed by numerous seasonal rivers draining from the escarpment. The northern boundary of the Park is Lake Kariba and the extent of the Park fluctuates with the water levels. Approximately 5% of the Park includes the surface of the lake, both on the eastern and western sides.
Geologically the area is divisible into two zones which are separated by the Zambezi escarpment. The valley floor is composed of Triassic karoo system grits, sandstones and siltstones while the highlands are made up of gneisses of varying ages.
Lake Kariba is the most important water source for the Park. Two large seasonal rivers form the eastern and western boundaries (Ume and Sanyati) and the valley floor contains numerous smaller seasonal streams draining the escarpment. Pans and springs are also found in some localities.
Climate and Vegetation
Panicum repens grassland found adjacent to Lake Kariba. This is supported by the fluctuating lake level and attracts a variety of animals.
The valley floor contains a mosaic of vegetation types based around Colophospermum mopane. However, pure stands are not common in the Park. Grasses include Heteropogen, Loudetia, Andropogen, Eragrostis, Sporobolus and Aristidaspp.
Highland and escarpment areas consist of "typical" miombo woodland on shallow gravelly soils dominated by Brachystegia boehmii and Julbernardia globiflora. A varied vegetation type found mainly between 900 and 1200 m asl. The vegetation has been extensively modified through fire and elephant damage.
Matusadona has been designated an Intensive Protection Zone for the protection of the endangered Black Rhinoceros of which species only a very few animals remain. Elephant and buffalo dominate a large mammal fauna representative of the Zambezi Valley. Populations of eland and sable and roan antelope occur in the escarpment. The Park supports high densities of crocodiles, and an expanding hippopotamus population. These last mentioned three species enjoy special status in terms of the Park policy.
Communal lands bound the Park on three sides. The Omay communal land is to the west and south while the Gatche Gatche and Kanyati Communal Lands are on the East. The Lake surface is a Recreational Park under the jurisdiction of the PWMA.
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