Pumbe Sandveld: Medium to High Shrub Savanna. Lungfish Found Pumbe Pan

Location and Geomorphology

Quaternary sand from the Cretaceous period occurs extensively in the Lebombo Mountains in Mozambique. Only a small extension of this landscape occurs in the KNP in the vicinity of Pumbe, northeast of Satara. The terrain is flat or concave and is characterized by various pans with a lot of loose pebbles in the soils. The altitude of this landscape is about 380 metres a.s.l. and occupies 177 km/2 or 0.1 percent of the area of the KNP.


According to Gertenbach (1980) this area receives between 500 and 550 mm of rain per annum. The sandy soils have a higher availability of moisture and therefore this area has more available moisture than would be expected. Temperatures are comparable to that of Satara as shown in Table 3.

Soil Pattern

The soils of the landscape vary from deep sandy soils to shallow lithosols with a lot of pebbles in the horizon. The dominant Form is Hutton, with Portsmith and Shorrocks as the most important Series. Mispah soils are commonly found and in certain places it is a pure lithosol. The bottoms of the pans consist of pebble-beds cemented with hard plinthite (Fig. 69).
Kruger Park Landscapes Gertenbach Number 30


The vegetation is a medium to high shrub savanna with almost no big trees (Fig. 68). The grass layer has a moderate cover. Dominant woody species are: Combretum zeyheri, C. apiculatum, C. molle, Terminalia sericea, Cassia abbreviate, Lonchocarpus capassa, Lannea stuhlmannii, Dalbergia melanoxylon, Dichrostachys cinerea subsp. africana, Tephrosia sericea, Acacia nigrescens and Ozoroa engleri. According to Pienaar (1963) the Pumbe Sandveld has the following rare species in common with Landscape 34; Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia, Afzelia quanzesis, Combretum collinum subsp. gazense, Salacia kraussii and Eugenia zeyheri. Recently Diospyros usambarensis was collected near Pumbe as a record from the KNP.

The field layer is sparse and the following species occur: Panicum maximum, Digitaria eriantha var. pentzii, Schmidtia pappophoroides, Brachiaria nigropedata, Heteropogon contortus, Enneapogon cenchroides, Pogonarthria squarrosa, Eragrostis superba, Aristida congesta subsp. barbicollis, Cymbopogon plurinoidis and Urochloa mosambicensis. Forbs include among others, the following: Heliotropium steudneri, Aptosimum lineare, Indigofera filipes, Kohautia virgata and Agathisanthemum bojeri.


Pienaar (1963) maintains that this landscape is not a specific habitat for larger mammals, Coetzee (1983) records the occurrence of a small fish (Nothobranchius rachovii) in the Pumbe pans. This is the only area in South Africa where this fish occurs (Pienaar 1978). Nothobranchius orthonotus occurs only in pans in the Pumbe and Nwambia Sandveld.

Great excitement prevailed when, in April 1981, a specimen of the lungfish (Protopterus annectens brieni) was collected from the Pumbe pan. This was the first record of this fish in South Africa.

Buffalo, zebra, impala, giraffe and warthog have been observed in this area.