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
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 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).