VEGETATION & FAUNA
The topography reflects the area’s position on the escarpment with Lesotho, and is mainly covered by grassland defined in Camp’s newer veld classification as Drakensberg foothills moist sourveld. The Nature Reserve is mainly composed of impressive rolling valleys and spurs running up to the escarpment. The road corridor climbs from East Griqualand grassland (vegetation type Gs12) dominated by tropical and temperate bunch grasses such as Themeda, which have been degraded through livestock pressure to become dominated by wire grasses and scattered Karroid shrubs (MDTP, 2008). At higher altitudes, the grasslands shift to become more alpine in nature, underlain by basalts with less grass cover and greater percentage of shrubby fynbos and karroid species, which have been allowed to increase through decreased grass competition from overgrazing. This has reduced soil cover and allowed an increase in erodibility, resulting in increased run-off and erosivity of rainfall.
A good representation of grassland flowering species occurs in the area, and was documented by studies undertaken by the Maloti Drakensberg Tansfrontier project (MDTP) in the early 2000s. Biodiversity is however threatened by the annual veldfires which sweep through the area, despite attempts by the Reserve to establish fire breaks and control wildfires.
The Reserve has a range of raptors and large birds, including the Bearded and Cape Vulture. There is no available bird list for the reserve, but the area provides a habitat for a combination of grassland and alpine species, including Orange throated longclaw, pipits, larks, chats, etc. These seed and insect eaters assist with pollination.
The Reserve has never been stocked with wildlife, but has provided a fairly safe habitat for existing species in the upper catchment, although poaching has been problematic. There is a limited representation of wildlife, however some successful breeding populations include Mountain Reedbuck, Grey Rhebok, duiker, hyrax/dassie, jackals, caracal / rooikat, water and grey mongoose, hares, porcupines, aardvark and baboons have left evidence of their activities. Some good birding opportunities exist – see activities section below.