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FAUNA AND FLORA

South Africa is world leader when it concerns nature conservation.

Nature conservation is a very important factor to keep the genetically pool and still many species are getting extinct (for example the blue antelope -  (Hippotragus leucophaeus). 29 plants, two mammal species and two butterfly species disappeared for good from South African soil.
              

There are a few species who needs some special attention: the "Southern right whale" (Balaena glacialis), the leather turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Cape Zebra (Equus zebra zebra), white and black rhino, African elephant, leopard, bontebok (Damaliscus dorcas dorcas) and the black gnoe(Connochaete)

Nature reserves in each province are in growing numbers due to the booming tourism industry. Some of these areas are privately owned, under states control or provincial body control.

There are 25 National Parks or areas which will soon be transformed into a National Park and more than 400 regional nature reserves.

National Parks Board
http://www.sanparks.org.za

Tourists prefer the so called "Big Five" reserves - elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard - and try to see all of them within one day... while the South Africans talk about the "Big Six" where in the whales should be counted to the 'Big Five'. Whales can be seen in Hermanus and the entire Western Cape Coast between May and November. However the positive conservation development makes some of the animals permanent residents all year round.

South Africa counts more than 100 snake species. Most of these reptiles can be seen in the Midrand Snake Park.
There are more than 900 bird species. One of them, a national symbol, is the blue crane bird which are carefully monitored by scientists on their journeys over the world. There are today only 21.000 blue cranes left in the wild but the most endangered bird is the blue swallow (Hirundo atrocaerulea), living in the Mpumalanga Province.

Kruger National Park

National Parks are spread out over the entire country.

Kruger National Park is one of the largest and best known reserve in the world. This national park has a surface of  20.000 km². This unique peace of nature is about half of the surface from the Netherlands (40.800 km²). 

Kruger National Park celebrated in 1998 to March 1999 its 100 birthday.

The first butterfly reserve

The first butterfly reserve opened in1984 (Ruimsig, Gauteng Province). This reserve is preventing the extinction of the Copper butterfly (Aloeides dentatis). 'Butterfly World' in Klapmuts (Stellenbosch) opened its doors in 1996. There are about 800 butterfly species in South Africa. The rare bretton-blue butterfly was at its extinction point in August 1996 but thanks to the minister of tourism, a project was stopped and gave the butterfly another chance to survive. The bretton-blue is on the red list from the IUCN.

Spiders and forests

South Africa counts 5000 spider species. The Umgeni Valley Spider Reserve, in Kwazulu-Natal is established to protect the rare Bolas Spider (Cladomelea akermanni).

There are not many forests in South Africa. The only large forests are in the George - Knysna and Tsitsikamma region. Over there we have the rare tree species such as yellowwood (Podocarpus spp.), ironwood (Olea capensis) lemonwood (Xymalos monospora) and many fern species. The best known bird in the region is the famous Knysna Loerie.

Eco-tourism

The fastest growing sector in South Africa is without any doubt the tourism industry and eco-tourism.

This kind of tourism is a marriage between all economical sectors in collaboration with the government and scientists. It is an ecological politic where all stakeholders will have to work together to conserve our beautiful planet for the next generations to come. Environment, air, water, soil and organisms are closely monitored.

Marine Life

270 from a total of 325 fish species live in South African waters. The most famous are the white shark and the Southern Right Whale, both endangered and protected species.

The plants in the Cape

The plant kingdom in the Cape is representing 1 of the 6 floral belts on our planets. It is the smallest from the six (0.06%) on our blue planet. This means that there is a very high plant species concentration within a small area. There are estimated 8500 different plant species wherefrom 1400 grow on Table Mountain! These plants form together the so called 'Fynbosch'. The best place to see the fauna kingdom is the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens near Cape Town.