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A FIRST SYNTHESIS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL, BIOLOGICAL & CULTURAL ASSETS OF THE SOUTPANSBERG

Executive Summary

Introduction

Study Area

Geology

Climate

Archaeology

Rock Art

Sociology: Human Component

Living Culture and Creative Cultural Assets

Arts Heritage: A Case Study

Mission History

Vegetation

Botanical Diversity

Endemic Flora

Orchidaceae of the Soutpansberg

Medicinal Plants

River Health and Water Quality

Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)

Dragonflies

Spiders (Araneae)

Fishes

Reptiles

Indigenous Birds

Mammals

Private Game Reserves and State Reserves

Reptiles Down load PDF version

I. G. Gaigher
Lajuma Research and Environmental Education Centre

Sources of information

  • “Transvaal” Museum, Pretoria
  • National Museum, Cape Town - Atlas of lizard distribution in Southern Africa
  • Port Elizabeth Museum
  • Various other Museums
  • University collections and data sets
  • IUCN
  • Biodiversity data base of the Provincial Department of Nature Conservation in Polokwane.
  • National Parks Board collections
  • Private collections and data sets.

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.

Summary statistics

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
White lipped snake
Near endemic subspecies

Xenocalamus transvaalensis
Transvaal quill-snouted snake
Isolated population

Dasypeltis inornata
Southern brown egg eater
Isolated population

Chirindia langi langi and C. l. occidentalis
Lang’s round headed worm lizard
Near endemic subspecies

Monopeltis .sphenorhynchus sphenorhynchus
Slender spade snouted worm lizard
Isolated population

Typhlosaurus lineatus subtaeniatus and T. l. richardi
Cregoi’s blind legless skink
Endemic subspecies

Scelotes limpopoensis albiventris
Limpopo dwarf burrowing skink
Near endemic subspecies. Occurrence in Mountain to be verified.

Australolacerta rupicola
Soutpansberg rock lizard
Endemic species

Nucras lalandi
Delalandes sandveld lizard
Relict population (not restricted to the Mountain)

Cordylus vandami
Van Dam’s girdled lizard
Isolated population

Platysaurus monotropis
Orange throated flat lizard
Endemic to Blouberg

Platysaurus relictus
Soutpansberg flat lizard
Endemic species to the Soutpansberg

Platysaurus intermedius inopinus
Common flat lizard
Near endemic subspecies

Bradypodion cf. sp. transvaalensis
Transvaal dwarf chameleon
Isolated population. Revision of the group might show that it is a different species or subspecies

Colopus wahlbergii wahlbergii
Kalahari ground gecko
Isolated population

Homopholis mulleri
Muller’s velvet gecko
Near endemic

Lygodactylus nigropunctatus incognitus
Black spotted dwarf gecko
Endemic subspecies

Lycodactylus ocellatus soutpansbergensis
Spotted dwarf gecko
Endemic subspecies

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