Drakensberg

The Drakensberg is located in South Africa.

The name by which it is now known is Drakens Mountain, or Mountain of the Dragons. The Drakensberg escarpment stretches for over 1,000 kilometres (600 miles). The Great Escarpment reaches its greatest elevation in this region – 2,000 to 3,482 metres (6,562 to 11,424 feet).

 

 
The high treeless peaks of the Drakensberg (from 2,500 m (8,200 ft) upwards) have been described by the World Wildlife Fund as the Drakensberg alti-montane grasslands and woodlands ecoregion.

These steep slopes are the most southerly high mountains in Africa, and being further from the equator provide cooler habitats at lower elevations than most mountain ranges on the continent.

The high rainfall generates many mountain streams and rivers, including the sources of the Orange River, southern Africa's longest, and the Tugela River.

 

These mountains also have the world's second-highest waterfall, the Tugela Falls (Thukela Falls), which has a total drop of 947 m (3,107 ft).
The climate is wet and cool at the high elevations, which experience snowfall in winter. Meanwhile, the grassy lower slopes (from 1,800 to 2,500 m (5,900 to 8,200 ft)) of the Drakensberg in Swaziland, South Africa and Lesotho constitute the Drakensberg Montane Grassland, Woodland, and Forest.

 

The mountains are rich in plant life, including a large number of species listed in the Red Data Book of threatened plants.

The flora of the high alti-montane grasslands is mainly tussock grass, creeping plants, and small shrubs such as ericas.

These include the rare Spiral Aloe (Aloe polyphylla), which as its name suggests has leaves with a spiral
shape. Meanwhile, the lower slopes are mainly grassland but are also home to conifers, which are rare in Africa, the species of conifer found in the Drakensberg is Podocarpus.

The Drakensberg area is "home to 299 recorded bird species"'.

 

 

 

 

The lower slopes of the Drakensberg support much wildlife, perhaps most importantly the rare southern white rhinoceros (which was nurtured here when facing extinction) and the black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou, which as of 2011 only thrives in protected areas and game reserves).

The area is home to large herds of grazing and antelopes such as eland, reedbuck, mountain reedbuck, grey rhebok, and even some oribi. Chacma baboons are also present. Endemic species include a large number of chameleons and other reptiles.

There is one endemic frog, forest rain frog, and four more that are found mainly in these mountains; long-toed tree frog, plaintive rain frog, rough rain frog , and Poynton's caco.


The high slopes are hard to reach so the environment is fairly undamaged. However, tourism in the Drakensberg is developing, with a variety of hiking trails, hotels and resorts appearing on the slopes.

Most of the higher South African parts of the range have been designated as game reserves or wilderness areas.

Of these the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park was listed by UNESCO in 2000 as a World Heritage site. The park is also in the List of Wetlands of
International Importance (under the Ramsar Convention).

The Royal Natal National Park, which contains some of the higher peaks, is part of this large park complex. Adjacent to the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site is the 1900 ha Allendale Mountain Reserve which is the largest private reserve adjoining the World Heritage Site and is found in the accessible Kamberg area, the heart of the historic San (Bushman) painting region of the Ukhahlamba.

There are numerous caves in the easily eroded sandstone of Clarens Formation, the layer below the thick, hard basalt layer on the KwaZulu Natal-Lesotho border. Many of these caves have rock paintings by the San (Bushmen).

This portion of the Drakensberg has between 35,000 and 40,000 works of San rock art and is the largest collection of such work in the world.

Some 20,000 individual rock paintings have been recorded at 500 different caves and overhanging sites between the Drakensberg Royal Natal National Park and Bushman's Nek.

 

Grey Rhebok  author: Bernard DUPONT

Grey rhebok is a species of antelope native to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and Swaziland. The specific name capreolus is Latin for 'little goat'.

Confined to the higher areas of Southern Africa, they typically inhabit grassy, montane habitats - for example, sourveld - usually 1000 m above sea level, and carry a woolly grey coat to insulate them from the cold.

 

 

Reedbuck   author :  Yathin S Krishnappa

 The reedbuck is 60 up to 90 cm. Its color is reddish brown.  Reedbuck is a common name for African antelopes from the genus Redunca.

 

 

 
 Black Wildebeest  author: Bernard DUPONT

 Black wildebeest are mainly active during the early morning and late afternoon preferring to rest during the hottest part of the day. The animals can run at speeds of 80 km/h (50 mph). When a person approaches a herd to within a few hundred metres, the wildebeest snort and run a short distance before stopping and looking back, repeating this behaviour if further approached. They communicate with each other using pheromones detected by flehmen and several forms of vocal communication. One of these is a metallic snort or an echoing "hick", that can be heard up to 1500 metres (1 mile) away. They are preyed on by animals like lion, spotted hyena, Cape hunting dog, leopard, cheetah and crocodile. Of these the calves are targeted mainly by the hyenas, while lions attack the adults.

 

 

White rhinoceros author : Ikiwaner

The white rhinoceros is the largest extant species of rhinoceros. It has a wide mouth used for grazing and is the most social of all rhino species.

White rhinoceroses are found in grassland and savannah habitat. Herbivore grazers that eat grass, preferring the shortest grains, the white rhinoceros is one of the largest pure grazers. It drinks twice a day if water is available, but if conditions are dry it can live four or five days without water. It spends about half of the day eating, one third resting, and the rest of the day doing various other things. White rhinoceroses, like all species of rhinoceros, love wallowing in mudholes to cool down.

 

 

 

Klipspringer  author: Munificent

The klipspringer is a small antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. The klipspringer inhabits places characterised by rocky terrain and sparse vegetation.

Typically nocturnal (active mainly at night), the klipspringer rests during the midday and at late night; the animal tends to be more active on moonlit nights. It basks in the morning sunlight to warm itself. A gregarious animal, the klipspringer, like the dik-diks and the oribi, exhibits monogamy to a much greater extent than other antelopes; individuals of opposite sexes form pairs that might last until one dies.The mates tend to stay as close as within 5 metres (16 ft) of each other at most times; for instance, they take turns at keeping a lookout for predators while the other feeds, and face any danger together. The klipspringer will hop a few metres away from the danger. Other social groups include small family herds of 8 or more members or solitary individuals. Klipspringer greet one another by rubbing cheeks at social meetings.

       

Common eland author : Yathin S Krishnappa

The common eland, also known as the southern eland or eland antelope, is a savannah and plains antelope found in East and Southern Africa.

Common elands are nomadic and crepuscular. They eat in the morning and evening, rest in shade when hot and remain in
sunlight when cold. They are commonly found in herds of up to 500, with individual members remaining in the herd anywhere
from several hours to several months. Juveniles and mothers tend to form larger herds, while males may separate into smaller
groups or wander individually. During estrus, mainly in the rainy season, groups tend to form more regularly. In southern
Africa common elands will often associate with herds of zebras, roan antelopes and oryxes.

Common elands communicate via gestures, vocalizations, scent cues and display behaviors.

 

 

Drakensberg rockjumper     author : Donald Macauley

 

The Drakensberg rockjumper is a medium-sized insectivorous passerine bird endemic to the alpine grasslands and rock outcrops of the Drakensberg Mountains of southeastern South Africa and Lesotho.

This is a ground-nesting species which forages on rocky slopes and scree. It frequently perches on rocks. Breeding is often cooperative; one or two additional individuals, usually a pair's offspring of the preceding breeding season, may assist the parents in territorial defence and alarm calling, and in the feeding of nestlings and fledglings.

 

 

Buff-streaked chat   author : Derek Keats

 

 

source : Wikipedia.org

The nearest  airport to Drakensberg