Reptiles and amphibians of the karoo national park: A surprising diversity.
African journal of herpetology 36 (1):26-35.
The Karoo National Park, Beaufort West, straddles the old escarpment of the Nuweveldberge and southern plain of the Great Karoo. It has a wide variety of habitats, linked to the varied altitude and geology of the Park. It has turned out to be a herpetological treasure trove, with 67 species of reptiles and amphibians, including no less than eight amphibians, six chelonians, 35 lizards and 18 snakes. The paper lists these species, noting many important range extensions both in the park and adjacent regions. The escarpment edge and its associated micro-climate, combined with the varied topography and geology, have generated diverse vegetation types. This has permitted niche diversification of congeners and there are a number of interesting generic radiations, including eight species of thick-toed geckos (Pachydactylus), five skinks (Mabuya) and four sand lizards (Pedioplanis). There are also five species of land tortoise. The area forms an important biogeographic refugium, with relict populations of tortoises, frogs, snakes and lizards, associated with the moist, montane grassland of the escarpment edge, or regions of deep alluvial sands along the old river courses. Details of the diversity and zoogeographic importance of the Park are presented.