2. Greater Richtersveld

The Greater Richtersveld includes the Gariep region which has a staggering 2700 plant species, 560 of which are endemic. Since 80% of the plant species are succulents, this is widely regarded as the area with the world's highest succulent diversity.

Many endemic plant species, such as the Bastard Quiver Tree (Aloe pilansii), occur only in small colonies on the highest peaks. Populations of this species have halved during the past three generations. Gariep also has the highest cover, density, and diversity of lichens in the world with 29 different species, many of which are associated with minute embedded succulents.

Richtersveld National Park, which conserves much of the Gariep, is leased to SANParks by the local community, who have retained their rights to communal grazing. Overgrazing and diamond mining scars are both very evident in the region. Other pressures include the illegal harvesting and poaching of game, removal of plants by collectors and poaching of marine resources.

Although there are no large herds of game in the Richtersveld, Klipspringers still grace the rocky slopes and Grey Rhebok, Steenbok, Duiker and a few Hartmann's Mountain Zebra still occur. Baboon, Vervet Monkey, Carcal, Jackal, Brown Hyena and Leopard are sighted from time to time. Birds are abundant, particularly along the river courses and scrubland and the mouth of the Orange River, which is a breeding ground for water birds, and a RAMSAR-designated wetland of international importance.

 Key facts

Highest succulent and lichen diversity in the world.

Flagship species

Bastard Quiver Tree, Aloe pillansii, Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Brown Hyena.

Famous places

Richtersveld National Park, the Gariep Rive,r and RAMSAR-designated wetland at the Gariep River mouth.


Overgrazing and diamond mining scars, Illegal harvesting, poaching, and off-road vehicles.

Additional information