Zandvlei Trust

Threatend Fauna and Flora of Zandvlei

The habitat destruction associated with the worlds ever increasing human population has lead to a reduction in the populations of many species. Many of these species have declined to such a level that their continued survival is unlikely, unless the factors causing their decline are halted. it is already too late for many species that have become extinct directly due to the activities of man. The most well known extinct animal is probably the Dodo of Mauritius. Hungry sailors ate this famous flightless pigeon to extinction. A less well-known but more disturbing example is that of the North American Passenger Pigeon. This bird was so numerous that it accounted for 25% of the total number of all land birds in America. The enormous flocks seemed like an inexhaustible source of food and livestock feed and the birds were shot as dense flocks passed overhead. The standard unit of measure for selling the birds carcasses was a filled railway car! The last Passenger pigeon died in Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.

To be able to combat the threat of extinction conservators and biologists need to know what species are threatened with extinction and to what degree they are threatened. A system of rating the likelihood of a species becoming extinct was developed by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). The first step is to evaluate whether there is enough information on the current status of the species. If there is insufficient information the species is then classified as 'Threatened' or 'Not threatened'. If threatened the species is then further classified as rare, vulnerable, endangered or extinct.

All the threatened plants and animals are then placed in books called Red Data Books. These books are then used by the managers of natural areas so that populations of threatened species can be managed correctly. The Cape Flats has the dubious honour of having the highest concentration of threatened plant species in the world! Four have been classified extinct and an additional 80 are threatened with extinction.

 Zandvlei lies in the southwestern corner of the Cape Flats and is home to 9 Red Data Plant species. 4 of these have bee reintroduced to the site while the other 5 occur in natural populations. The surprising fact that the majority of the Red Data Plants on the Cape Flats were historically common. The reality is that they occurred in a relatively small area, which has been extensively transformed by urban sprawl. Today we are faced with the fact that almost every small patch of natural veld in the City of Cape Town is home to at least one Red Data species!

It is not only the plants in our area, which are facing an uncertain future. Following is a list of the animals found at Zandvlei, which has Red Data Book status. Each species is an intricate part of the eco system and every effort must be made to conserve them all - even the most unappealing and inconspicuous ones!

Red Data Animals species at Zandvlei

Fish: White Steenbrass
Birds: Peregrine Falcon, White Pelican, Little Bittern, Greater Flamingo, Caspian Tern.
Frogs: Western Leopard Toad

 Clifford Dorse.

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