Endangered species wilt under poaching onslaught
Unique and endangered vegetation that occurs in the isolated inselbergs of the Succulent Karoo Biome of the Northern Cape have become the target of an increased number of poachers active across the province.
By Leon Louw owner and editor of WhyAfrica
The succulents are exported mainly to the Chinese market, where demand has hit an all-time high. According to sources that does not want to be identified, local communities are used to find the plants and to then smuggle it through porous borders. Many endangered species are already under pressure because of increased development in the Northern Cape.
On day four of the WhyAfrica Southern Africa Road Trip we visited Vedanta Resources‘ nursery and rehabilitation project. The company plays an important role in protecting and preserving ecosystems within the ecological hotspots of the Northern Cape. It has recently acquired large tracks of land as an offsetting measure that will be managed together with the South African government as special protected areas.
The mine’s environmental department identifies, records, removes and conserves all aspects of biodiversity in this unique ecosystem and specifically the Bushmanland Inselberg vegetation that occurs on the areas to be mined at the Gamsberg/ Black Mountain zinc complex close to the town of Aggeneys. It then re-establishes and nurtures the plants in its world-class nursery.
The mine’s dedicated environmental team grows and propagates these species and are looking at ways to rehabilitate disturbed areas after mining to return the vegetation to its natural state again.
Both Gamsberg and Black Mountain are earmarked for expansions within the next few years. Currently Gamsberg is mining from an open pit while Black Mountain is unearthing zinc from its underground mine. However, plans are afoot to develop up to three underground shafts at Gamsberg and more expansions at Black Mountain, which may include an open pit mine. The mine is in the process of undertaking intense Environmental Impact Assessments to establish the best way to develop the complex in the future.
The WhyAfrica Southern Africa Overland Road Trip will take us through five countries in 44 days. During this time, we will drive more than 9700km on the good roads, the bad roads, dirt roads and tarred roads, to visit close to 30 projects in the mining, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, tourism, conservation, and development sectors.
This trip is made possible by:
Leon Louw is the founder and editor of WhyAfrica. He specialises in natural resources and African affairs.
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