Fauna & Flora
Witsand has been identified as possibly the only area of localised endemism in the Northern Cape. Two species, namely Valhalia capensis subsp. ellipticifolia and Pterothrix tecta have been classified as possible endemics. Brachiaria dura var. pilosa can be considered near-endemic to Witsand Nature Reserve. In all probability, the ongoing plant surveys conducted on the reserve could add to the list of endemic species found only here.
Conservation of this Unique Asset
Endemic plants and insects make it a truly unique area for conservation. The vegetation of the reserve is a complex convergence zone of three major vegetation types:
Karroid Kalahari Bushveld
This vegetation type is sparsely wooded, characteristically with Camel Thorn (Acacia erioloba) and Shepherd's Tree (Boscia albitrunca). Shrub cover is more developed with species such as the Thornkapok (Eriocephalus spinescens), Threethorn (Rhigozum trichotomum), Eriocephalus pubescens, Aptosimum spinescens and Rosenia humilis being typical. Grasses which are also sparse and typical of this zone would be the Small Bushman Grass (Stipagrostis obtusa), and Tall Bushman Grass (Stipagrostis ciliata).
Orange River Nama Karoo
Trees typical of this vegetation type are Black Thorn (Acacia mellifera), Buffalo Thorn (Ziziphus mucronata) as well as the Camel Thorn (Acacia erioloba) and the Shepherd's Tree (Boscia albitrunca). Threethorn (Rhigozum trichotomum) can occur in dense mass where over-utilisation of the land has occurred. Silky Bushman Grass (Stipagrostis uniplumis) forms the bulk of the grass cover in this type.
Kalahari Mountain Bushveld
Trees typical here are the Camphor Tree (Tarchonanthus camphoratus), Kunibush (Rhus undulata), Black Thorn (Acacia mellifera). Grasses occuring are the Broad-leaved Bluestem (Diheteropogon amplectens), Hairy Blue Grass (Andropogon chinensis), Iron Grass (Aristida diffusa), Lehmann's Love Grass (Eragrostis lehmanniana) and Finger Grass (Digitaria eriantha).
More than 170 species of Birds
The avid birdwatcher's skills will be put to the test by the abundance of LBJ's. Witsand offers an interesting combination of arid region and bushveld birds to keep from the complete novice to the compulsive twitcher happy. We have a well positioned sunken bird-hide from where one can watch birds (particularly Sandgrouse) and game at their level coming to drink at a waterpoint just a few metres away.
The hide has proven to be a great asset to the reserve.
The most significant birds are
• Pygmy Falcon (Africa’s smallest raptor)
• Sociable Weavers (with their huge nests)
• Kori Bustard (biggest flying bird in Africa)
• Secretary Bird
• Crimson-Breasted Boubou or Shrike
• Lilac-Breasted Roller and
• Three species of Sandgrouse
Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, Springbok, Duiker and Steenbok are abundant on the reserve. Since Witsand has enjoyed conservation status, a small herd of Kudu has established itself on the reserve. The reintroduction of additional species will be considered once the natural vegetation has recovered sufficiently. Nevertheless, some particularly rare and interesting species, such as Pangolin and Aardvark occur on the reserve, and the visitor to Witsand can never be sure of what he or she may be likely (or fortunate enough) to see! Many species show adaptations typical of species living in hot desert environments. This is particularly true of the many beetles and other insects found in the dunes.
Wildlife to spot in the daytime:
Springbok, Common Duiker, Steenbok, Gemsbok (Oryx), Red Hartebeest, Ground Squirrels and Suricate (Meerkat)
Wildlife to spot at night:
Ground Pangolin, Porcupine, Aardvark, Aardwolf, Bat-eared Fox, Cape Fox, Genet, Spring Hare and Owls