Local biodiversity facts

Cape Sugarbird | ©Arne Purves
Cape Sugarbird | © Arne Purves

  • South Africa has the second highest number of plant extinctions in the world.
  • 70% of the Cape Floral Kingdom’s 9 600 plant species are found nowhere else on earth. About 20% of these are Red Data listed.
  • Cape Town itself is home to about 3 000 indigenous plant species, 190 are endemic, 318 are considered threatened and 13 are extinct or extinct in the wild.
  • The Cape Town Lowlands area supports more than 1 466 plant species in 1 874 km² of which 76 are endemic and 203 are considered threatened.
  • The Cape Town Lowlands area has the highest concentration of threatened plants per area of remaining vegetation in the world.
  • The Cape Peninsula Mountain Chain supports 2 285 plant species in 471 km², of which 158 are endemic.
  • 83 mammal species remain in Cape Town, 24 Red Data listed and three recently extinct.
  • 361 bird species live in Cape Town – ten are endangered, 22 are Red Data listed and at least three species have become extinct in recent years.
  • There are numerous invertebrate species in Cape Town, approximately 111 of them are endemic in the Cape Peninsula Mountain Chain alone.
  • There are 27 amphibian species in Cape Town of which ten are listed as Red Data species.
  • 57 reptile species, of which five are Red Date species and three are locally extinct, are found in Cape Town.
  • 24 fish species are dependent on Cape Town’s estuaries.
  • There are 18 different national terrestrial vegetation types found in Cape Town. 14 of these are threatened owing to habitat transformation.
  • Cape Town contains remnants of the nationally most-threatened vegetation types: Lourensford Alluvium Fynbos, Swartland Shale Renosterveld and Swartland Silcrete Renosterveld.
  • Many globally important horticultural plants originate in Cape Town and the Cape Floral Kingdom in general. These include geraniums, gladioli, freesias, ixias, pincushions and gazanias.The Western Cape is also a world centre of bulb diversity.

Endemic: only found in the particular area referred to, e.g. Cape Town Metro Area.
Red Data List: a national list, based on internationally recognised criteria, of species threatened with extinction.

source: SMART Living Handbook

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