South Africa is recognised as one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Although probably best known for Kruger National Park and its enviable populations of megafauna such as rhinos, elephants, giraffes and lions, South Africa has even more to offer thanks to its incredible diversity of landscapes.
One of its most remarkable – and best-kept – secrets is the incredible diversity of plant species found in the Cape Floral Kingdom (or the Cape Floristic Region) on the country’s Western Cape.
One of only six floral kingdoms in the world and unique to this small area, the region supports over 9,000 plant species, 70% of which are found nowhere else on the planet. These include exquisite species such as the king protea (South Africa’s national flower) and the exotic pincushion.
However, many of the critical habitats in the Cape Floral Kingdom (including the lowland fynbos and renosterveld habitats) are severely threatened by human development pressures on land. Ploughing of land for agriculture (arable, dairy farms) and conversion for viniculture and other industries endanger the region’s unique plants and the animals that rely on them.