The Cape Floral Kingdom, the Fynbos, boasts the richest and highest concentration of the plant species in the world. It is even more botanically diverse than its Southern American rainforests, which only possesses one-third number of plant species. Located at the tip of Africa, this fascinating floral kingdom also serves as the refuge of remarkable plant species that grow nowhere else in the world.
The Fynbos covers approximately 90 000 km2, represents less than 0.5% of Africa’s total range, but is home to one-fifth of the continent’s entire flora. The name was derived from an Old Dutch, which means “fine bush.” It pertains not only to a single species but includes all the flora found in the Cape region’s mountains, made of prehistoric, weather-pummelled sandstone, stretching from the Cederberg range in the Western Cape to the Grahamstown’s mountains in the Eastern Cape.
The Fynbox habitat is characterized by lush, fire-prone shrubs, thriving on nutrient-deficient soil. Ashes from drought-beater forests paved the way for its formation about a million years ago.
Looking at the Fynbos can be unimpressive from a distance as what you will witness is a treeless area, with low scrubby plants, fine bushes that are unkempt, and seemingly unfruitful. However, looking at it closely will reveal a mesmerizing diversity of numerous plant species like the country’s national flower and other familiar names, such as restios, ericas, irises, daisies, and orchids, flowering each month of the year. What’s even remarkable is that around 70 percent of the 9,600 plant species thriving are native to the region.
Aside from the stunning flora, the Cape also services as a home for many spectacular animal species, mainly reptiles, amphibians. One of which is the Geometric Tortoise, which is one of the most threatened species in the world. The rarest distinct, and endangered frog species, also occurs in the area. Other animals which South Africa is renowned for is also showcased by the Cape Floral Region. It ranges from insects, birds, to predators, benefiting from the varied and astonishing landscape the Fynbos has to offer. It boasts around 11,000 marine animal species, and 560 vertebrate species, some of which are endemic to the Kingdom.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is the smallest yet richest of the six floral kingdoms extant in the world today, but it is also the most threatened amongst them. Significant threats, such as frequent fires, alien species infestations, and urban and agricultural developments, are transforming its landscape.
With that, protecting this stunning and captivating plant kingdom has become a conservation priority. Restricted areas are common in the Fynbos, as any building any infrastructure or plowing any field may alter and put the entire population of these unique plant species into total oblivion.
Nevertheless, Fynbos serves as a vital gateway to a healthy environment, providing an unforgettable wildlife experience. Visting the flora and fauna diversity of this striking and one-of-a-king destination is guaranteed to be worth it.
OTHER VEGETATION ZONES
Arid Zone | Desert | Savannah Woodland | Savannah Grassland | Indigenous Forests | Swampland