For South Africa’s dwindling renosterveld, there’s now a ‘panic button’ app

For South Africa’s dwindling renosterveld, there’s now a ‘panic button’ app

The rhinos are long gone, as are other large mammals like the now-extinct quagga and bluebuck. Conservationists are now fighting to preserve what remains of the renosterveld, South Africa’s most threatened ecosystem, from quiet destruction. Characterized by shrubs and grasses that are still home to diverse flowers, insects, birds and small mammals, the renosterveld (Afrikaans for “rhinoceros field”) may have gotten its name from the color of some of its vegetation, which resembles the gray hides of rhinos, or from the fact that black rhinos once foraged in its thickets before they were wiped out by colonial-era hunters. The fertile soils beneath the renosterveld have seen the vegetation cleared for farmland over the past three centuries. Wild flowers in Renosterveld. Image by Juergen via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Fragments survive, scattered across the Swartland and Overberg wheat-growing belt of South Africa’s Western Cape province. Fewer than 50 of these cover more than 100 hectares (247 acres). In the Overberg region, just over 65,000 hectares (160,000 acres) of natural renosterveld remains, much of it degraded, from an original extent of more than 470,000 hectares (1.1 million acres). “People used to say what’s left is safe from the plow because it’s too steep or rocky, but technology and the size of machines has become so much more advanced that farmers are still able to take out new areas,” said Odette Curtis-Scott, director of the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust, an environmental nonprofit. When Mongabay spoke to her, she had just returned home after a…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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