These mangroves grow in the mouths of rivers on the Indian Ocean coast of South Africa, where the sea is warmed by the Mozambique Current, in many cases they are further sheltered from the ocean by sandbanks. The largest areas are in the estuaries of the Mhlathuze and St Lucia Rivers and mangroves can be found as far south as the Nahoon River, the most southerly occurrence of mangroves in Africa and therefore an important ecoregion.
The mangroves are an important habitat for sea life, birds and animals such as turtles and crocodiles. Sea life includes fiddler crabs, mud crab (Scylla serrata), mudskippers, (Periophthalmus kalolo) and many species of sea snails and sea slugs. Resident species of birds including the endangered Mangrove kingfisher (Halcyon senegaloides). The mangroves are also visited by large numbers of migratory bird species. Fish also use this for mating grounds.
Many areas of mangrove in southern Africa have been cleared for timber, urban and industrial development, including tourist facilities, and this is ongoing. Further damage to habitats is caused by pollution of rivers, while forest clearance inland causes rivers to bring down larger quantities of soils and the rivers and estuaries to be blocked. Protected areas include Beachwood Mangroves Nature Reserve near Durban and iSimangaliso Wetland Park (formerly Greater St Lucia Wetland Park).