THE HAARWEGSKLOOF RENOSTERVELD RESERVE
WWF-SA (World Wildlife Fund, South Africa) purchased this farm in late 2013 and handed it to the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust for management and care-taking.
The ORCT has since renovated infrastructure on the homestead and established the first-ever Renosterveld Research and Visitor Centre, as well as self-catering accommodation.
“The beautiful Renosterveld Reserve known as Haarwegskloof is a very special place: it forms part of the largest and most contiguous stretch of Renosterveld left in the world and it contains many rare and endemic species.”
Dr Odette Curtis, Director of the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust
STAY IN THE RENOSTERVELD RESERVE
We are extremely proud to share this incredible gem with you. Enjoy the natural surroundings – the rich plant life, the animals and birds, and the crystal-clear country air. And contribute to the important work we are doing here. The Reserve is also close to De Hoop Nature Reserve and you can also take a trip down to visit our partners at Sijnn Wines on the Breede River at Malgas, where they are also conserving Renosterveld.
We have two accommodation options for you on the Reserve. Our Old Dairy offers self-catering accommodation, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, braai facilities and much more. The Renosterveld Research and Visitor Centre accommodates up to 14 people. It’s ideal for a fun group get-away into the Renosterveld, and with its herbarium and large workspace, is ideal for students and researchers.
THE CONSERVATION SIGNIFICANCE OF HAARWEGSKLOOF
Haarwegskloof, together with its two neighbours, Luiperdskop and Plaatjieskraal, comprises the largest and most contiguous extant lowland Renosterveld that remains in the Overberg and therefore on Earth. Together these three properties comprise about 1500 ha Eastern Rûens Shale Renosterveld. Haarwegskloof is about 500ha in size, with about 80% being virgin land, the remainder being previously ploughed (recovering) lands. The Reserve contains a substantial diversity of species and particularly, many rare and threatened birds and plants.
Three of the 6 recently discovered endemic plants are found on the Reserve and one, Polhillia curtisiae, is only known to grow here. Many other rare and endemic species, particularly those occurring only in quartz outcrops, grow on Haarwegskloof.
See birds like the Black Harrier, listed as Endangered, and the Denham’s Bustard, listed as Vulnerable. Their numbers have declined significantly over the years, due to habitat loss and other challenges. Our Renosterveld offers the perfect habitat for these and a host of other birds. In fact, we’ve found three pairs of Black Harriers breeding on the Reserve.
The Reserve hosts a variety of wonderful and secretive mammals. Like the Aardwolf – an elusive mammal that looks like a small hyena, but eats only insects. This animal has been affected by habitat loss in the Overberg, and is now very rare in our region.
HISTORY & BACKGROUND
Haarwegskoof farm was historically owned by the Lourens family. In late 2013, WWF-SA purchased the farm in order to ensure its protection in perpetuity. The Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT) has been elected as the Management Authority on this property and Fauna and Flora International in the UK (FFI) provided funding for the initial management planning and interventions, as well as the Nature Reserve declaration (through CapeNature’s Stewardship Programme).
In 2014, the ORCT raised sufficient funds to restore the existing homestead and establish the first-ever Renosterveld Research & Visitor Centre. This Reserve and Centre is now a flagship locality for renosterveld conservation in the Overberg and the world. The Centre is a hub for post-graduate students to carry out research on the Overberg’s renosterveld, while also providing ecotourism and education opportunities which will i) grow awareness about the plight of renosterveld and ii) generate an income for the ORCT so that management becomes more sustainable.
“As a Getaway it is superb. As a place to be surrounded by nature it is grand. The facilities and the accommodation are of the best available and I was delighted by the atmosphere. The peace and quiet offered is amazing.”
Don Evans, visited Feb 2016
The Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for aiding with the collection of these data and the preservation of this biodiversity hotspot.
for funding camera traps, field equipment, contributing towards the establishment of the Centre and management interventions on Haarwegskloof.
for purchasing this reserve and entrusting it into our care.
Individuals who contributed to the compilation of species lists on the reserve and provided traps, time and expertise included:
Clifford & Suretha Dorse, Keir & Alouise Lynch and Barry & Rozelle Rose, Jannie Groenewald & Odette Curtis.
“I have the great fortune of being involved in wonderful conservation projects in the United States and all around the world, but I consider the work of OCLT to be the most important – OCLT’s work to conserve a highly diverse and endangered ecosystem that is globally outstanding and a unique World Heritage Site is truly amazing – but equally amazing is how they involve local communities and farmers to pitch in and work together hand in hand to make magic happen.” David Houghton