The Little Karoo ecoregion is a centre of diversity and endemism for reptiles and many invertebrates. Of the ecoregion’s 50 scorpion species, 22 are endemic. Monkey beetles, largely endemic to southern Africa, are concentrated in the Succulent Karoo and are important pollinators of the flora. So, too, are the Hymenoptera and masarine wasps, and colletid, fideliid, and melittid bees.
The Succulent Karoo is notable for the world's richest flora of succulent plants, and harbours about one-third of the world’s approximately 10,000 succulent species. The region is extraordinarily rich in geophytes, harbouring approximately 630 species.
Approximately 15 amphibians are found in this ecoregion, including three endemics; among the region’s 115 reptile species, 48 are endemic and 15 are strict endemics. The Sperregebiet region is a hotspot for an unusual tortoise, the Nama padloper. Endemism is present, but less pronounced, among the Succulent Karoo’s bird and mammal populations
Vanwyksdorp falls within the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve which is South Africa’s newest member of a group internationally designated as ‘UNESCO Biosphere Reserves’ – and the first in Africa to be designated as a ‘Cluster Biosphere Reserve’. These are internationally-recognized regions dedicated to sustainable development in the 21st century. While socially and environmentally different, they each face a similar challenge: How to accommodate and manage growth and development for the well-being of their human communities, while strengthening agriculture and natural resource conservation in ways that put ‘sustainability’ in practice.
The former ‘Gouritz Initiative’ is proud of its new emerging status as the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve, and is busy reorganizing itself to meet these new challenges.
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