A plant or animal that is confined to a certain area is called endemic. Some organisms are endemic to the African continent and are therefore, not found anywhere else in the world.  There are many organisms endemic to small regions and these plants and animals are extremely vulnerable as any change to their habitat could cause their extinction, as there would be no other populations in other areas to continue the race.

 

The Woodbush to Wolkberg area has a high level of endemicity. For example, Eastwood´s Longtailed Seps occurred only in certain habitats around Haenertsburg and nowhere else in the world. It was therefore, endemic to Haenertsburg. These habitats were modified by man and the seps could not survive such changes and became extinct.

 

Montane and highveld grasslands are mostly classified under a single grassland biome. However, the wet summer to cold, dry winter climatic conditions on the high altitude mountains cause a very different floristic composition, with an exceptionally high biodiversity including many rare, endemic plant and animal species. The high species diversity and high levels of endemism indicate a long evolutionary history of these grasslands, which developed during the last Glacial period, 18 000 years ago. The development of the timber industry and the invasion of alien woody species has transformed large tracts of grassland since the early 1900’s. The grassland biome is one of the most threatened in South Africa, with 60-80% irreversibly transformed, while only 2% is formally conserved.

Species diversity found in the grassland eco-region

Taxonomic Group

No. of Species

No. Endemic Species

% En-denism

Critical

Endangered

Vulnerable

Mammals

89

18

44%

0

1

8

Birds

349

31

58%

5

3

17

Reptiles

84

17

20%

0

0

4

Amphibians

36

18

29%

1

1

2

Invertebrates*

?

?

?

0

0

16

·          Assessment includes only butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies, some molluscs,

the Colophon beetles, and some of the freshwater crustaceans.