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Flora and Fauna   

Overview

Like many areas of the world, sub-Saharan Africa has suffered significant habitat destruction, degradation and fragmentation. South Africa has lost at least 57% of its natural wildlife habitat through the activities of mankind (Primack, 1993).


Contracting natural habitats lead to a fall in the diversity of species present, and in overall numbers of individuals from those species within the habitats. The abundance of certain species is particularly sensitive to habitat availability, particularly Africa's larger migratory fauna that require large home ranges.

Research suggests that only about 6% of South Africa is under official protection, falling somewhat short of the recommended International Conservation Union figure of 10%. However, the ANC Government has announced plans to increase the amount of protected land, and this figure is gradually increasing.

The UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme is predicated on the belief that conservation of these systems can have economic and ecological benefits to the local and national communities. It is in this light that we consider the values of conserving areas within the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve.


The Kruger to Canyons Reserve consists of a diverse range of landscapes and ecosystems: four of the fifteen important types listed by the World Network of Biosphere Reserves exist here.

The region is positioned to contribute uniquely to the conservation of South Africa's landscapes because of the atypical interfaces between the ecosystems associated with the escarpment and the Savannah. The rapid change in the altitude of the land has created some unique niche habitats, each with their own endemic species.

The extensive savannah ecosystem found within the Biosphere Reserve is not currently a threatened system, and is probably one of the more resilient systems in the country. However, because of the size of the area that is protected (by the state and by private landowners), its value to conservation actually increases exponentially.


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