Like the resource it seeks to protect, wildlife conservation must be dynamic, changing as conditions change, seeking always to become more effective.
Haarwegskloof and the Renosterveld Nature Reserve
Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve
Haarwegskloof Farm lies north of De Hoop Nature Reserve and is accessed from the Baatjieskraal road off the R319, the road between Bredasdorp and Swellendam (click HERE for directions). This special piece of land of about 500 ha in size falls within a cluster of Renosterveld that spreads across several farms, but collectively makes up the largest area of Eastern Rûens Shale Renosterveld that remains today.
In fact, this area is essentially the largest contiguous stretch of remnant lowland Renosterveld remaining on Earth and for this reason, the securing of Haarwegskloof for conservation in perpetuity is hugely significant. This beautiful reserve, about 80% virgin Renosterveld and the remainder being previously worked lands, was purchased by WWF-SA in late 2013 and given to the ORCT to manage.
This piece of Renosterveld will receive nature reserve status in the very near future and we are now working towards engaging with additional landowners in the area for either outright purchase or conservation easements, in order to expand the amount of Renosterveld falling under protection.
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
The Haarwegskloof Reserve is significant as it contains some of the best quality Eastern Rûens Shale Renosterveld remaining, as well as many rare and endemic plants, birds and mammals occur on the reserve. We are currently compiling a species inventory of the reserve, but some of the exciting finds thus far include:
Aardwolf is an elusive mammal that resembles a small hyena, but only eats insects, especially termites. This species has been detrimentally affected by habitat loss in the Overberg and hence is extremely rare in the region. We have recorded it on our camera traps at Haarwegskloof.
Linking with De Hoop Nature Reserve
De Hoop Nature Reserve, also declared Marine Protected Area (MPA) and World Heritage Site, is situated just south from Haarwegskloof on the southern coast of the Overberg. Until recently, none of the catchments feeding into De Hoop Vlei RAMSAR site had been afforded any form of protection.
De Hoop already contains populations of endemic Bontebok, Eland, Hartebeest, and Mountain Zebra, and therefore opportunities for linking De Hoop and the Renosterveld exist, potentially enabling more inland-coastal movement of wildlife.
Protecting these habitats and linking inland-coastal systems is not only important for large fauna, but is critical for maintaining the ecosystem integrity of the Renosterveld habitats and conserving bird species, such as the Black Harrier, Southern Black Korhaan, and Cape Vulture (all Vulnerable).