Quenching Thirst in Kammanassie
CapeNature’s Kammanassie Nature Reserve(KNR) in the Klein Karoo, between Uniondale and Oudtshoorn have been very concerned about the possibility of animals dying of thirst. Fountains, rivers and streams have dried up due to the severe drought caused inter alia by climate change.
Many farmers have been left with no other choice but to accept water from neighbouring farms to assist.
Amongst the animals in dire need is the precious herd of 42 Cape mountain zebras in the reserve. The small population in Kammanassie Nature Reserve is one of three relict Cape mountain zebra populations. Although the genetic diversity of this population is low, it is genetically distinct from the other two populations, namely, the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve and Mountain Zebra National Park populations, and thus vital for the future conservation of this iconic animal.
Indications are that the future survival of the Cape mountain zebra metapopulation in the wild and within its natural distribution range may require, among other, the mixing of at least some animals from the three relict populations to avoid genetic bottlenecks, but growth of the KNR population is negatively impacted by habitat availability, frequent wildfires, reduced rainfall and subsequent reduced water availability in the reserve. Cape mountain zebra are heavily dependent on water to drink on a daily basis. Mountain Fynbos covers more than 80% of the reserve but of this, only the Arid Restioid Fynbos and Waboomveld habitats are preferred by mountain zebra. The suitability of these habitats for mountain zebra is, however, highly variable and impacted by these elements.
Given the recent fires on the Kammanassie Mountain in January and February this year, the population will continue to experience slow growth due to the burning of many hectares of young veld.
The Cape Hunters and Gaming Conservation Association, better known as Kaapjag, have intervened and generously donated to CapeNature a solar pump for the Kammanassie Nature Reserve. In addition to this, Kaapjag managed to arrange a 5000 litre water tank sponsored by Roto Tank, situated in Moorreesburg.
Kaapjag conservation official Gustav Smit says, “We decided to get involved because we are not only hunters but care for the environment as well and conservation has played a role in Kaapjag’s activities since our establishment 34 years ago.”
Now these zebras and other animals on the reserve will have enough water to drink and there should be no thirst-related deaths once these structures are put up in the coming weeks.
“This is a fine example of a conservation partnership in action. As the conservation authority in the Western Cape, we value partnerships which add value to the conservation of our valuable and unique biodiversity,” says CapeNature CEO Dr Razeena Omar, and adds “The donation is an invaluable contribution to the survival of these unique zebras, and we thank Kaapjag for this.”