State of Biodiversity: Western Cape Province, South Africa Mammals
The Western Cape Province (W.C.P.) of South Africa, one of nine provinces forming the country, is generally regarded in South African terms as being “poor” with respect to the number of its mammals when compared to the other eight provinces. This misconception has its origin in the fact that the Western Cape, essentially a winter rainfall region, lies adjacent to one of the richest spots in the world in terms of mammalian diversity, namely the summer rainfall region of the rest of South Africa. In fact only when compared with the rest of our own country can the Western Cape be regarded as having a “poor” mammofauna in terms of biodiversity. However, some of the other Western Cape vertebrate and many of the invertebrate groups do reflect higher levels of biodiversity, as do the plants; and almost all groups show higher levels of endemism. The misconception regarding mammalian diversity in the Western Cape is partially exacerbated by the relatively low biomass mainly due to the low nutrient status which is fairly characteristic of the fynbos biome. The historic distribution of the larger mammals within the W.C.P. is probably better documented than that of any other faunal group in South Africa (see Skead, 1980; Skead, 1987; and Rookmaker, 1989) and the role that mammals played in the development of nature conservation in the W.C.P. is well summarized by Hey (1977).
- Miscellaneous