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Swartkops on the edge

16 Jul 2018 - 10:00

The Plant Conservation Unit's (PCU) PhD student Kirsti Nghidinwa was among a team of Namibian botanists that recently undertook a trip to Tsau //Khaeb National Park (TKNP), as part of an initiative to develop a biodiversity monitoring framework for the newly proclaimed park. The TKNP was previously known as Sperrgebiet, which translates to “forbidden territory” in German. For nearly a century diamond mining regulations restricted access to the area.

  
Tsau //Khaeb National Park (Sperrgebiet) and Swartkops (adapted from Google Maps)


Namibian botanists on Swartkops (Photo by PV Mendes)

At the south-western end of the TKNP is Swartkops, a koppie (hill) situated in the Oranjemund townlands. Besides being a popular lookout spot the koppie has an unusual diversity of small succulents including geophytes, such as Cheiridopsis verrucosa. C. verrucosa is very rare and in Namibia the species is limited to a few outcrops along the Lower Orange River. While Swartkops has previously enjoyed protection there are concerns that this may change as Oranjemund transforms from a strictly controlled diamond mining settlement to a mainstream municipality accessible to anyone.

 
Left: A view from Swartkops overlooking Alexander Bay and the Orange River Mouth, a Ramsar wetland site. Right: Jewel in the rough - Cheiridopsis verrucosa on Swartkops. 

~ Article and images supplied by Kirsti Nghidinwa