The tortoise is a reptile that lives on land. South Africa has 13 species of tortoise and eight are found in the Western Cape alone.
Tortoises are very slow, so they struggle to move away from danger when crossing busy roads or when there is a fire. The geometric tortoise is endangered, which means it is at risk of becoming extinct (dying out). It eats very specific plants, so when farmers use a tortoise’s home for farming, it can’t find the food it needs.
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Water evaporates from the surface of oceans into the atmosphere, forms clouds, falls onto the land as rain, travels through wetlands, rivers, lakes and underground, before returning to the ocean. The water you drink from a tap comes from lakes, rivers or ground water such as boreholes or wells.
More than half of the water we drink in the Western Cape comes from mountain catchment areas – these are areas of land that are “natural sponges”, which catch water when it rains and feed it to rivers.
These mountain catchment areas are threatened by fires and invasive alien vegetation – plants from other countries that do not naturally grow in South Africa.
Biodiversity is the different kinds of life on earth, including animals and plants, the places they live and their surrounding environments. “Bio” means life and “diversity” means variety.
Biodiversity gives us the clean air we breathe, the water we drink and the natural beauty around us. We need it to survive.
Our home – South Africa – is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. We have about 240 species of mammals, more than 700 species of birds, almost 500 species of reptiles and frogs, and 630 species of butterflies.
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