The Soutpansberg is one of the most biodiverse areas of South Africa. Although it covers barely half a percent of the country’s surface area, it’s home to almost two thirds of South Africa’s birds, 40 percent of our mammals and 30 percent of our reptile species. In fact, there are some species of plants and wildlife in the Soutpansberg region that are found nowhere else on the entire planet! The Soutpansberg worm lizard, Soutpansberg rock lizard, Soutpansberg dwarf gecko and Soutpansberg flat lizard, for example, are all endemic to the region, and named after the mountain range that spawned their habitat.
The whole Soutpansberg area is of critical national and international conservation importance. This is why the conservation efforts by organisations and nature reserves in the area, such as Morning Sun Nature Reserve, play such a vital role.
Soutpansberg Frogs and Reptiles
Conservation groups have recorded at least 116 reptile species in the Soutpansberg region. This is almost as many species as the neighbouring Kruger National Park, which is many times the size. This incredible diversity is high even when compared to other biodiversity hotspots around the world. In fact, the per-unit diversity of the area is actually some of the highest ever recorded.
There are 18 reptile species of particular conservation importance, and these include:
- White-lipped snake
- Transvaal Quill-snouted snake
- Southern brown egg eater
Lizards And Skinks:
- Lang’s round-headed worm lizard
- Slender spade snouted worm lizard
- Cregoi’s blind legless skink
- Limpopo dwarf burrowing skink
- Soutpansberg rock lizard
- Delalandes sandveld lizard
- Van Dam’s girdled lizard
- Orange-throated flat lizard
- Soutpansberg flat lizard
- Common flat lizard
Geckos And Chameleons
- Transvaal dwarf chameleon
- Kalahari ground gecko
- Muller’s velvet gecko
- Black spotted dwarf gecko
- Spotted dwarf gecko
One of the most vulnerable frog species is the Northern Forest Rain Frog (Breviceps sylvestris). This frog is endemic to the Limpopo Province, occurring on the Blouberg, Soutpansberg, Wolkberg and Drakensberg ranges. However, commercial forestry plantations, agricultural activities and growing human settlements are slowly encroaching on the natural habitat of this Red List species, restricting it to small fragments of suitable habitat. But even this habitat is being threatened by nearby industrial and agricultural activity, which reduces the amount of available water – both in the soil and on the surface. Controlled fires – common practice in forestry and agriculture – also threaten this vulnerable species.
In addition, the vast network of roads developed to facilitate and sustain industry in the area compounds all these threats. Not only do the roads fragment the frog’s remaining habitat, road kills during the breeding season, when the frogs are at their most active, significantly affect the population numbers. To top it all, the Northern Forest Rain Frog has thin, blood-rich skin, making it highly susceptible to the effects of climate change and pollution.
Morning Sun’s Conservation Philosophy
Morning Sun Nature Reserve is registered as a National Heritage Site (No. 89) because it is a prime example of the unique biodiversity of the Soutpansberg Mountains. We are passionate about preserving and, if possible, restoring endangered wildlife and its habitat in this area, and all who live in it for future generations. This is why we love to encourage families to come and enjoy a unique eco-experience, set in an area of breathtaking scenic beauty and biodiversity.
As part of our ongoing commitment to promoting the conservation of the Soutpansberg environment, we endeavour to slowly increase the land under conservation by purchasing additional farms, and creating a wider conservancy with our like-minded neighbours.
Through these and other efforts, we hope to take frogs such as the Northern Forest Rain Frog off the Red Species List, and to reduce the vulnerability of all our precious reptile and frog species.