South Africa

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Izele is supported by
Darwin Initiative Wildlands Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust Critical Ecosystem Partnership fund

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Izele is supported by
Darwin Initiative Wildlands Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust Critical Ecosystem Partnership fund

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Terms - Privacy

# Conservation and ecotourism in South Africa # Introduction South Africa is the southernmost country in the African continent and is bordered by Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. The country is home to a population of approximately 69 million people, with 64% of the country’s population living in urban areas. The country is highly diverse in terms of its climate, geography, topography and people. # Ecosystems, species and threats South Africa is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world, with many of its species found nowhere else. Despite only covering 2% of the Earth’s land surface, the country is home to 10% of the floral diversity in the world, 7% of the reptile, bird and mammal species and 15% of the world’s marine species. The terrestrial landscape can be divided into nine biomes that include forests, thicket, savanna, grasslands, desert, Nama Karoo, succulent Karoo and fynbos. The river ecosystem in the country consists of 31 different ecoregions, while estuaries and coastal habitats are divided into three biogeographical zones. The terrestrial ecosystem is home to a range of charismatic and globally threatened species such as lions, African elephants, giraffes and rhinos. South Africa is home to 31 globally threatened mammal species and 54 globally threatened bird species, as well as 40 endemic mammal species and 18 endemic bird species. The national mammal is the springbok and the national bird is the blue crane. The country’s high levels of species endemism are illustrated by the fact that it contains the Cape Floristic Region biodiversity hotspot, which is home to over 9,000 plant species out of which 70% are only found in South Africa. In addition, the country contains parts of the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany and Succulent Karoo hotspots. Despite the significance of South Africa’s natural habitats, its biodiversity is currently experiencing extreme levels of threat and degradation. For example, over 20% of the floral species in the Cape Floristic Region are currently threatened with extinction. This has important implications for both the country’s society and economy, as a large proportion of South Africa’s people depend on the natural habitat for their livelihoods and income. #Conservation areas According to Protected Planet (2020), there are 1629 protected areas in South Africa that cover 8.67% of the terrestrial realm and 15.5% of the marine and coastal areas. These protected areas include 1406 National Reserves, 22 National Parks, 41 Marine Protected Areas, 2 Special Nature reserves, 16 Mountain Catchment Areas, over 19 RAMSAR sites and more. The Kruger National Park is the most iconic protected area in the country as South Africa’s first National Park and home to over 147 mammal species including the “Big Five”. South Africa is also home to four World Heritage Sites designated based on their conservation importance: Cape Floral Region Protected Areas, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, and uKhahlamba/Drakensberg Park

Conservation and ecotourism in South Africa

Introduction

South Africa is the southernmost country in the African continent and is bordered by Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. The country is home to a population of approximately 69 million people, with 64% of the country’s population living in urban areas. The country is highly diverse in terms of its climate, geography, topography and people.

Ecosystems, species and threats

South Africa is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world, with many of its species found nowhere else. Despite only covering 2% of the Earth’s land surface, the country is home to 10% of the floral diversity in the world, 7% of the reptile, bird and mammal species and 15% of the world’s marine species. The terrestrial landscape can be divided into nine biomes that include forests, thicket, savanna, grasslands, desert, Nama Karoo, succulent Karoo and fynbos. The river ecosystem in the country consists of 31 different ecoregions, while estuaries and coastal habitats are divided into three biogeographical zones. The terrestrial ecosystem is home to a range of charismatic and globally threatened species such as lions, African elephants, giraffes and rhinos. South Africa is home to 31 globally threatened mammal species and 54 globally threatened bird species, as well as 40 endemic mammal species and 18 endemic bird species. The national mammal is the springbok and the national bird is the blue crane.

The country’s high levels of species endemism are illustrated by the fact that it contains the Cape Floristic Region biodiversity hotspot, which is home to over 9,000 plant species out of which 70% are only found in South Africa. In addition, the country contains parts of the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany and Succulent Karoo hotspots.

Despite the significance of South Africa’s natural habitats, its biodiversity is currently experiencing extreme levels of threat and degradation. For example, over 20% of the floral species in the Cape Floristic Region are currently threatened with extinction. This has important implications for both the country’s society and economy, as a large proportion of South Africa’s people depend on the natural habitat for their livelihoods and income.

Conservation areas

According to Protected Planet (2020), there are 1629 protected areas in South Africa that cover 8.67% of the terrestrial realm and 15.5% of the marine and coastal areas. These protected areas include 1406 National Reserves, 22 National Parks, 41 Marine Protected Areas, 2 Special Nature reserves, 16 Mountain Catchment Areas, over 19 RAMSAR sites and more. The Kruger National Park is the most iconic protected area in the country as South Africa’s first National Park and home to over 147 mammal species including the “Big Five”. South Africa is also home to four World Heritage Sites designated based on their conservation importance: Cape Floral Region Protected Areas, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, and uKhahlamba/Drakensberg Park