South African Grasslands

Interested in South African grasslands? Learn more about the South African grasslands and subtropical woodland…

There are two basic South African grassland ecosystems, which include the Bushveld and the Maputaland-Pondoland grasslands. Bushveld has been classified as the eco-region in South Africa’s richest subtropical woodland. It covers majority of the province of Limpopo in some parts of the North West Province while extending all the way to the west of Botswana and south of Zimbabwe.

The region has elevations that range between 750 to 1400 m. It experiences an annual rainfall averaging 350 mm on the Western front and all the way up to 600 mm in its northeastern parts. The three distinct mountain ranges, which are considered very important to the area include the Drakensberg escarpment forming the eastern border of the Bushveld as it spreads from the north in Tzaneen to the south ending in Belfast; the stunning Waterberg range stretching from Mokopane at the east to the western end in Thabazimbi; the Soutpansberg range, which lies roughly north of Louis Trichardt. The north most mountain range in South Africa is, in fact, the third one on the list.

Flora and Fauna in South African Grasslands

It has very grassy plains that are covered with thick clusters of tall shrubs and trees. The grassland turns yellow and brown, which is the dry season in South Africa. There are a few undisturbed areas in this habitat, which include the Waterberg Biosphere. It is home to much of the wildlife in South Africa and includes the black rhino, the white rhino, the giraffe, and antelope species along with the kudu, blue wildebeest and impala. In terms of its geology the region is very rich in minerals. That makes it a very complex sausage shaped formation in terms of its geological structure. It stretches over 50,000 square kilometers and has in fact the highest amount of the world’s mineral reserves for chromium, platinum, andalusite, fluorspar and vanadium. The region also has the Merensky Reef considered the largest source of platinum and its group metals.

Farming in South African Grasslands

A dry region is home to game and livestock rearing. Only drought resistant plants like millet or sorghum are cultivated if irrigation is available.

The second kind of South African grassland ecosystem is located in Maputaland-Pondoland. It is actually a shrub land ecoregion, which has bush and grasslands both. It lies near the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains and covers a total area of 7500 mi.² in the provinces of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

It is blessed with a very dry and subtropical climate with rainfall ranging between 450 mm to 800 mm annually. In fact, three quarters of the rain falls in the summer months, which are quite warm. The time for rainfall is generally from October and March. There is very rare chance of frost because a moderating influence is provided by the Indian Ocean. There are lovely and dense green shrubs with thickets of six meters in height. The eco-region transitions between dry and moist and has lowlands and mountainous regions both.


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