US$36.00Donated So Far
The Southern tip of South Africa is called the Cape Floral Kingdom, it is the smallest, yet richest plant kingdom in the world.
The biome called Renosterveld, is the richest bulb habitat on earth and home to many threatened and endangered flower and succulent species, apart from the richness it provides in Flora, it does not compromise in Fauna, although this biome has lost more than 95% of its natural vegetation over the years it provides a refuge for the most endangered tortoise species in Africa, the critically endangered Geometric Tortoise, these animals were once spread over many parts of the Cape Winelands, sadly today their numbers have plummeted by more than 90% to habitat loss, deforestation and the rising need for intensive agriculture in South Africa, the Geometric Tortoise does not have a large range and their habitat is restricted to the last remaining Renosterveld habitat in the Western Cape, South Africa.
The conservation efforts will not be focused on solely one animal or species. Of all the countries around the globe, South Africa is home to not only the most complex and rich plant kingdoms but also the country that has the most tortoise species (13) of which at least 3 species are currently not described. South Africa is very mineral rich, leading global gold exports for a number of years, this however does come at a cost to the environment, where there are rich soils such as Renosterveld, there are an increasing demand for the fertile land to be converted into wheat or wine farms. One of the main reasons that problems arise globally and not only in South Africa is education, looking back in history with animals such as the Kwagga and Cape Lion is that most locals were not aware of their vulnerability and decline in numbers and when the time came to realize the animals are fewer, they were gone. Chelonians are facing endless competition for their habitat and the right to have a peaceful life and to work in co-operation with farmers and conservationists, these struggles we will be discussing further.
To understand the vulnerability of tortoises you need to start in the beginning, Tortoises hatch from eggs which are laid in the soil, these have to be left completely undisturbed for various incubation times ranging from 94-547 days and unlike chicken eggs these embryos are very sensitive and cannot be turned otherwise the baby tortoise will drown inside the egg. South Africa boasts a few dwarf tortoise species but is also home to the worlds’ smallest tortoise species, the Speckled Tortoise/Speckled Padloper “ Homopus signatus” with individuals not reaching larger than a size of 10cm (3.9 inches), the struggle for annual habitat loss, illegal collection for the pet trade and many predatory animals making an easy meal of these small creatures the future is not looking good for these animals.
A study in 2015 conducted by UCT, University of Cape Town concluded that the Pied Crow population in South Africa has been steadily growing every year but with a specific spike in numbers found in the Fynbos and Karoo biomes, ironically these two as well as the Namaqualand boast one of the highest concentrations of tortoises in the world. With the increasing amount of urban and rural settlements expanding in South Africa, so does the refuse dumps and the ever-increasing amount of food waste, which leads to migratory patterns of intellectual birds such as the Pied Crow being influenced and their stay in South Africa extends instead of migrating back to North Africa for winter. The issue with this arises that the crows are omnivorous birds and will predate on any small reptile or mammal that it can come across, this in turn has a devastating chain reaction towards other wildlife such as raptors who are outcompeted for food and proper perching sites for nesting. Crows breed throughout the year as apposed to tortoises which become much less active in the winter months and small tortoise species which lay between 1-4 eggs at a time can lay upto 4 clutches of eggs per year, this may seem sustainable in the long run but when it comes to the diet of a Pied Crow and the feeding of their chicks this starts to take a turn for the worst.
In recent years there have been a few local studies done on predation records of Pied Crows and the results are horrific, to raise one batch of small crows the following carcasses were found within 20m of the nesting site.
12 x Parrot-beaked Tortoise Adults
6 x Angulate Tortoises ( 1 adult and 5 juveniles )
1 x hatchling Leopard Tortoise
Smaller tortoise species such as the Parrot-beaked Padloper/Parrot-beaked Tortoise take at least 5 years to reach sexual maturity, with one clutch of baby crows raised,12 adult tortoises were removed from the cycle. This is not sustainable.
If there is one thing I would like to single out is education, with the proper permits in place, it can be arranged to travel to communities and schools with animals such as snakes which should be respected, not feared. These animals can be used as "ambassador" animals to showcase their species and the importance of every animal in each biome.
There is an urgent need to protect the habitat of reptiles, with a specific emphasis on tortoises. All funds contributed will be used to purchase land and day to day costs such as the fixing of fencing and medical supplies to rehabilitate injured animals.
- Dirk Barnard
No updates for this campaign just yet
Donors & Comments
Create a support campaign in seconds!
Support campaigns allow you to get your own fundraising page dedicated to 'Tortoise Protection South Africa'
You'll have your own unique link that you can share, and all funds raised will go directly to 'Tortoise Protection South Africa'. It's the ultimate way to show your support!Create support campaign