Rainforest Trust announced that its local partner, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), purchased a vital parcel of land in South Africa’s Soutpansberg Mountain Range which has an extraordinary variety of important and unique habitats for vulnerable species.
Resident species also reflect that diversity, ranging from small endemic species to large, wide-ranging predators, like the vulnerable African Leopard. Tragically, wildlife poaching, agricultural expansion and sand-mining threaten the future of the region’s ecosystem and animals.
The new purchase of the 3,298-acre property takes another important step towards connecting a network of reserves in this unique and biodiverse landscape.
Besides purchasing land for conservation, the project involves local landowners in biodiversity stewardship to combat the poaching of leopards and other threatened species in South Africa.
Oldrich Van Schalkwyk, the EWT SPA manager, said the reserve “will work with existing landowners and local communities to make one large protected area with the aim of saving species and habitats, providing critical ecosystem services, such as clean water, and developing climate change resilience.
“Our strategy is to protect expansive mountain range habitat and curb the poaching of precious wildlife,” Rainforest Trust’s Africa Conservation Officer Katie Pugh, said in a statement. “Connecting this property to other important biodiversity sites is critical to bolster protection for a wide range of threatened and endemic species.”
Researchers are still assessing the new property’s unique biodiversity value. But many of the range-restricted species found nearby, such as the Endangered Southern Mountain Reedbuck, are likely to live in this parcel. The Soutpansberg Protected Area will safeguard large swaths of land vital to the reedbuck, rare reptiles and threatened species.