Northern Cape gets four new nature reserves

The arid Karoo is a treasure trove of unique plant species and the ‘inselbergs’ (rock protrusions, literally translated to ‘island mountains’) in the area are home to several rare succulents. These flora have long been under threat from mining and plant poachers, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Now, these rockies will be protected as part of four new nature reserves declared in the Northern Cape. The Areb, Karas, Marietjie van Niekerk and Smorgenskadu Nature Reserves adjoin each other and form the greater Karrasberge Protected Area.

‘Inselbergs have long been known to harbour unique plant species, which is why the Leslie Hill Succulent Karoo Trust first identified these solitary mountains as a top priority for conservation. The reserves fall within the Succulent Karoo biome in the arid western part of South Africa which was recently described by UNESCO as the “most biologically diverse arid area in the world”‘, WWF said.

These nature reserves will ultimately contribute to the climate change resilience of the region’s vegetation, as well as counter the increasing threat of heavy metal open cast mining ventures and the illegal plant trade in these areas,’ said Ben-Jon Dreyer, Land Negotiator of Wilderness Foundation Africa in a statement.