SA’s parks now bigger

Four of South Africa’s national parks have increased in size, which is good news for the country’s conservation fraternity.   

South African National Parks (SANParks) announced in February that an additional 20 206 hectares of land will be incorporated into four of South Africa’s national parks.

More than 18 000 ha of land were added through the National Parks Trust of South Africa (NPTSA) and WWF South Africa.

The largest of SANParks’ expansions was for the Namaqua National Park (NP) which has grown by 18 391 hectares (15 992 ha through the work of the NPTSA and WWF). The other national parks to have been expanded are Mokala NP (with an additional 844 ha); Karoo NP (397 ha); and Agulhas NP (574 ha).

The NPTSA, which is managed by WWF South Africa, assists SANParks to acquire land to expand the country’s r national parks to meet conservation targets and create spaces where the country’s unique fauna and flora can thrive.

Protecting rare plant species

The most recent expansion of the Namaqua National Park covers an array of threatened veld types and will help to protect rare, threatened, and endemic plant species, among them the iconic Kokerboom (or quiver tree).

In addition, it encompasses a 6km section of a 41km stretch of the Buffels River and the upper catchment of the Swartlintjies river system, both of which are important for the overall ecological functioning of the park.

Mokala NP provides grazing for a range of rare antelope (such as sable and roan) and other species, including disease-free buffalo. Its expansion includes Northern Upper Karoo vegetation of which less than 1 percent is under formal protection.

The Karoo NP is home to Cape mountain zebras, 20 pairs of breeding Verreaux’s eagles, 864 species of plants and has the highest density of tortoises in the world (five species), while the Agulhas NP encompasses the southernmost tip of the African continent and features threatened habitats of the Cape Floristic Region on the surrounding Agulhas plain.

Global Biodiversity Framework

According to WWF CEO Dr Morné du Plessis these declarations are part of the WWF’s work to bring some of South Africa’s most threatened habitats and species under the umbrella of SANParks as the custodian of the country’s very special natural heritage for the benefit of everyone.

“All of this work contributes towards South Africa’s commitment to the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to protect 30% of the planet’s terrestrial and marine habitats by 2030,” says Du Plessis.

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