The Verloren Valei Nature Reserve (Lost Valley) is a protected area located 13km north of Dullstroom in Mpumalanga. The reserve is one of the few places in South Africa to breed all 3 of the world’s endangered cranes, namely the blue crane (South Africa’s national bird), wattled crane, and the crowned crane. It was created to conserve the endangered wattled crane, and it protects a large variety of indigenous flowering plants, including 2 species of orchid.
Proclaimed a Provincial Nature Reserve in 1983, the Verloren Valei Nature Reserve sits on the Steenkampsberg plateau, and incorporates rolling grasslands, and an interlinked series of over 30 wetlands.
Wildlife to be spotted include oribi, steenbok, hyena, caracal, serval, jackal, otter, zebra, wildebeest, and blesbok. There are plenty of birds to be found such as the bald ibis, pitpits, larks, bishops, finches, woodpeckers, including many on the red data list. The reserve is managing an ongoing project to save the wattle crane from extinction. They collect the second eggs produced by these birds for incubation, and rear them in isolation in a special facility on the reserve. They are looked after by people in crane suits until they are 6 months old, when they are released into the wild in an attempt to boost their numbers. Guided tours are offered to see the three species of crane.