South Africa is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world. Biodiversity refers to the variety of life around us, from a Southern Right Whale to a tiny wildflower. South Africa has about 240 species of mammals, more than 700 species of birds, almost 500 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 630 species of butterflies.
Biodiversity is crucial to our survival. It provides us with clean air, food, economic opportunities, medicine, soil for agriculture and recreational enjoyment. It is the biological and social capital that supports the entire human race.
But human activity continues to threaten the earth’s inter-dependent ecosystems. The Western Cape’s biodiversity is in a constant state of flux as it responds to natural forces and human activity. Our vast natural resources are threatened by population growth, climate change, pollution, escalating development, the illegal trade of plants and animals, and the invasion of introduced species.
We ensure that local communities work with us to conserve biodiversity by providing the public with legal advice and support; administering licences, leases and permits; contributing to environmental policies and laws; and investigating biodiversity crimes in partnership with the South African Police Service.