The world consists of 6 Flora Kingdoms. Boreal or Northern Hemisphere (42% of land surface), Paleotropical or Africa/India (35%), Neotropical or South American (14%), Australian (8%), Patagonian or Antarctic (1%) and finally the Cape Floral Kingdom (0.4%).
Present West Coast Renosterveld Distribution
Previous Renosterveld Distribution displaced by agricultural development
To put it in perspective, the Cape Floral Kingdom covers a mere 90 000 square kilometers, stretching from Vanrhynsdorp in the west to Mossel Bay in the east, BUT boasts 9 600 species of witch 5 800 are endemic while the Amazon covers 9 million square kilometers, but only has 850 plant species. The Cape is indeed a global epicenter of biodiversity.
Our kingdom is made of three types. Fynbos, Strandveld and Renosterveld. Fynbos up in the mountains, Strandveld along the coast and Renosterveld in the middle, growing in clay-rich fertile soils where the winter rainfall is between 250 and 600 millimeters per year. Perfect agricultural conditions to grow grapes for wine and to cultivate wheat. So perfect that only 4% of Renosterveld in the Western Cape is still left. It is now one of the most threatened vegetation types in the world. It would be sad to lose the beautiful Kukumakranka and Spider flower (spinnekopblom) to name only but two red data species of many. In fact 29 species are already lost forever.
In amongst this tiny patch of vegetation you will also find (if you are extremely lucky) the Padloper and Geometric tortoise. The first being the world’s smallest and the latter the most endangered. Incidentally, there are only 41 different types of tortoises worldwide of which 8 are endemic to the Cape Floral Kingdom. Wouldn’t it be a disgrace if we soon can only claim 6? Then there’s also the little fellow the will look so great on our national flag – the Cape Dwarf Chameleon. The Kukumakranka, Spider flower, Geometric tortoise, Cape dwarf chameleon and Aristea lugens. What good is the Big Five if we lose this Renosterveld Small Five?
Renosterveld with its 1 700 unique species of vegetation is on its way out. Unless we as humans and fellow inhabitants of this beautiful land take affirmative action. NOW!