Biodiversity - Flora and Fauna

As part of the Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve, the BHRC serves as a buffer zone to protect and maintain the rich biodiversity of the area. The conservancy contains some of the very few remaining Renosterveld tracts of land close to the Cape Town Metropole.


Located at the southern tip of Africa, the Cape Floral Region (CFR) is by far the smallest of the world’s six floral kingdoms. It has also been listed as one of 34 internationally recognised biodiversity hotspots. The CFR is one of the richest parts of the world in terms of floristic diversity and endemism. Around 9 000 plant species occur within an area of 87 892 square kilometres and around 70% of these are endemic, meaning that they are found nowhere else on earth. This degree of endemism is among the highest in the world.

Along with Fynbos, Renosterveld is a dominant vegetation type in the CFR and the most threatened. While Fynbos grows on sandy nutrient-poor soils, Renosterveld tends to grow on more fertile and fine-grained shale, granite or silcrete derived soils where rainfall is a moderate 350 to 650 mm/year. At rainfall levels above about 800 mm/year soils are leached and Renosterveld vegetation becomes dominated by Fynbos elements. Where the rainfall is less than 250mm, it is replaced by one of the Succulent Karoo vegetation types. Both vegetation types are characterized by very high species diversity.

The Bottelary Hills Renosterveld Conservancy flora is primarily made up of Renosterveld, characterized by the dominance of members of the Daisy Family (Asteraceae), specifically one species Renosterbos (Elytropappus rhinocerotis), from which the vegetation type gets its name. Although Renosterbos is the ( characteristic dominant, many other plants are also prominent – the Daisy Family (Asteraceae): Eriocephalus, Felicia, Helichrysum, Pteronia, Relhania; Pea Family (Fabaceae): Aspalathus; Gardenia Family (Rubiaceae): Anthospermum; Cocoa Family (Sterculiaceae): Hermannia; Thyme Family (Thymelaeaceae): Passerina. All these shrubs are characterized by their small, tough, grey leaves.

Another feature of Renosterveld is the high species richness of geophytic plants (chiefly in the Iris Family (Iridaceae) and Lily Family (Liliaceae), but also in the Orchid Family (Orchidaceae).


Because of its high soil fertility, herds of large game once roamed in Renosterveld. Only the Mountain Zebra and Leopard survived (by fleeing to the mountains) with the Bontebok just surviving near Bredasdorp. All the other species became extinct in the Fynbos Biome although many have been introduced into conservation areas from outside the region.

Game such as caracal, grysbok, grey duiker, porcupine, bat-eared foxes, cape foxes and otters still roam naturally in the Bottelary Hills. Many animal species remain dependant on the existence of Renosterveld habitat. The endangered reptile species such as the Diamondback tortoise, which is only to be found in Renosterveld areas and more than 110 bird species have been identified in the BHRC.