South Africa’s endemic flora and fauna species

By Stef Zisovska
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South Africa’s endemic flora and fauna species

Stef Zisovska
 
 
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South Africa has a spectacular flora and fauna that can’t be compared to anything else in the world. You will be surprised by how many unique plants and animals live in this part of the world. If you ever decide to visit South Africa, you should prepare yourself with some basic knowledge of the flora and fauna you will discover there. Here are some of the most important and endemic plants and animals that can be seen only in South Africa. Get ready for a nature lesson!

Plants

Flower of bird-of-paradise
Flower of bird-of-paradise

South Africa has over 13,000 vascular plant species that are found nowhere else. Families of plants unique to South Africa include Grubbiaceae, Bruniaceae, Lanariaceae, Roridulaceae, and Geissolomataceae. An endemic family of the non-vascular plant is the aquatic moss Wardiaceae. Other endemic flora species from this region include the Bird of Paradise Flower, the Red Disa, the Rhinoceros Bush, the Cushion Restio, the Clanwilliam Cedar, Rhynchocalyx, the Kammanassie Erica, Bergeranthus jamesii, the Keurboom, the Silver Tree, the Buck Bay Vygie, Kniphofia leucocephala, the Belladonna Lily, the Cape Strawflower, the Forest Lily, the Tree Pagoda, Penaea acutifolia, and the national flower, the King Protea. Of course, this is only a very small example of the diverse plant life of South Africa.

Mammals

Regular plains zebras and Quagga Project zebras in Mokala National Park – Author: Bernard DUPONT – CC BY-SA 2.0
Regular plains zebras and Quagga Project zebras in Mokala National Park – Author: Bernard DUPONT – CC BY-SA 2.0

The mammals in South Africa are quite numerous, and most of them can’t be found anywhere else in the world, which makes them extremely special. The endemic mammal species here include Cape Grysbok, the Cape Elephant Shrew, the Cape Horseshoe Bat, the Spectacled African Dormouse, and the Cape Mole-rat while other endemic species include the Riverine Rabbit and three types of golden mole: Chrysospalax, Cryptochloris, and Neamblysomus. Sometimes the Bontebok, the Cape Springbok, the Cape Klipspringer, the Cape Kudu, and the Cape Blue Duiker are considered as full species. There are also two extinct endemic species including Blue Antilope and Quagga.

Birds

Black Bustard in South Africa – Author: Andy Carter – CC BY 2.0
Black Bustard in South Africa – Author: Andy Carter – CC BY 2.0

On the endemic bird list of South Africa, again, there are plenty of species that you won’t see at no other place on Earth. Some of these exotic birds are: the Southern Black Bustard, the Hottentot Buttonquail, the Forest Buzzard, the Knysna Woodpecker, the Cape Parrot, Botha’s Lark, the Red Lark, the Cape Rockjumper, the Knysna Warbler, the Cape Bulbul, the Cape Sugarbird, the Cape Siskin, and the Protea Canary. Also unique to South Africa are Victorin’s Warbler and the Orange-breasted Sunbird.

Reptiles

Psammobates geometricus
Psammobates geometricus

South Africa is a paradise for lizard lovers, so if you consider yourself to be a gecko freak, then you must come and see these amazing reptiles. The Geometric Tortoise, the Speckled Padloper, the Southern Adder, Fisk’s House Snake, the Black Thread Snake, the Giant Girdled Lizard or Sungazer, the Pondo Flat Gecko, the Augrabies Flat Lizard, the Namaqua Plated Lizard, the Knysna Dwarf Chameleon, Austen’s Gecko, and the Cape Legless Skink. Other endemic species include the Soutpansberg Rock Lizard and Peringuey’s Coastal Leaf-toed Gecko. Weirdly named reptiles, aren’t they?

Amphibians

Natalobatrachus bonebergi – Author: Martin Pickersgill – CC BY-SA 2.5
Natalobatrachus bonebergi – Author: Martin Pickersgill – CC BY-SA 2.5

Amphibians that can only be found in South Africa include the Table Mountain Ghost Frog, the Knysna Spiny Reed Frog, the Bush Squeaker, the Spotted Snout-burrower. Also found here are the Montane Marsh Frog, Drewes’ Moss Frog, the Mistbelt Chirping Frog, the Tradouw Mountain Toadlet, the Kloof Frog and the Micro Frog.

Butterflies

Male specimen – Dorsal side Locality: Malawi – Author: Didier Descouens – CC BY-SA 3.0
Male specimen – Dorsal side Locality: Malawi – Author: Didier Descouens – CC BY-SA 3.0

South Africa is famous for its many endemic butterfly species which attract photographers from all over the world hoping to capture their delicate beauty. Among the unique butterfly species, you can find Waterberg Copper, the Brenton Blue, the Forest Swallowtail, the Karkloof Emperor, and Dingaan’s Widow.

Other endemic insects include the Cape stag beetles, the Flightless Dung Beetle, the Galloping Dung Beetle, a heel walker, the Cedarberg Cave Katydid, the Silver-spotted Ghost Moth, the Basking Malachite, and the Meganosed Fly.

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