|A FIRST SYNTHESIS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL, BIOLOGICAL & CULTURAL ASSETS OF THE SOUTPANSBERG|
I. G. Gaigher
Sources of information
This information is readily available but human resources are required to access and collate it.
Information in this synthesis is based on Branch (1998). Because his maps are of a general nature it was in some cases difficult to know whether a species has actually been collected from the Soutpansberg. Uncertain localities were discarded so the list might be conservative. Also, the reptiles of the Soutpansberg have not been surveyed thoroughly so it is highly likely that new distribution records and even new species may be found in future.
Based on this information, a total of at least 116 reptile species have been recorded in the Soutpansberg. This biodiversity is remarkably high for such a small area and makes up 36% of the total number of reptile species that have been recorded in South Africa. This is roughly the same number of species (119) that occur in the Kruger National Park. The diversity is high compared to biodiversity hotspots of the world and the species diversity per unit area is higher than that of most of these hotspots. Most of the species (92 or 79%) are either catholic or occur in savannah or bushland. Nine species (8%) are mainly restricted to grassland, the same number are associated with forests and five (4%) occur in wetlands. Twelve species show a distinct preference for rocky outcrops.
The following eighteen species are of particular conservation importance:
Amblyodipsas micropthalmus nigra
Chirindia langi langi and C. l. occidentalis
Monopeltis .sphenorhynchus sphenorhynchus
Typhlosaurus lineatus subtaeniatus and T. l. richardi
Scelotes limpopoensis albiventris
Platysaurus intermedius inopinus
Bradypodion cf. sp. transvaalensis
Colopus wahlbergii wahlbergii
Lygodactylus nigropunctatus incognitus
Lycodactylus ocellatus soutpansbergensis
Due to a lack of information the conservation status of these species in the Soutpansberg is not known. Two of the three endemic species and at least one of the endemic subspecies seem to be well protected on private reserves in the Western Soutpansberg. The dwarf chameleon seems to be extremely rare. Habitat loss in the eastern part of the mountain is of concern for this species.
Major studies and publications
None on the Soutpansberg as such.
General publications on South African reptiles:
BRANCH, B. 1998. Field guide to the snakes and other reptiles of southern Africa.
BROADLY, D. G. 1990. Fitzsimons snakes of Southern Africa. Delta Books (Pty) Ltd, Johannesburg.
Recommendations for priority studies
A detailed distribution survey to update the check list and to record distribution patterns and habitat preferences.
DNA analysis to determine the taxonomic status of groups such as the dwarf chameleons and flat lizards.
Hot spots of particular importance
Due to a lack of information it is not possible to determine hot spots for rare species. The best approach would be to concentrate conservation efforts on biotopes that are under most threat such as forests, wetlands and montane grassland.
|Copyright: © Soutpansberg—Limpopo Biosphere Initiative|