Rabbit indicates environment damage

2012-11-14 11:30
The Riverine Rabbit is endemic to SA and critically endangered. (Eric Herrmann)

The Riverine Rabbit is endemic to SA and critically endangered. (Eric Herrmann)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


Cape Town - Humans have a direct responsibility to protect the environment, especially when habitats have been destroyed by mankind, an environmental organisation has insisted.

"Nature isn't about survival of the fittest when humans have come in and destroyed most of the habitat. So we have an obligation to save every species," Christie Bragg, Riverine Rabbit programme manager at the Endangered Wildlife Trust told News24.

The EWT runs a programme to protect the critically endangered Riverine Rabbit and its habitat in the Karoo, and Bragg said that the rabbit was an environmental health indicator.

"Through the Riverine Rabbit programme, we're actually using the rabbit as a flagship. The rabbit is an indicator of good veld condition."

The Riverine Rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis) is critically endangered and only occurs near river areas in the Karoo. Because of unchecked land use in the past, much of the rabbit's habitat has been destroyed.


"If you save the rabbit and you're protecting its habitat in that area, you're not only protecting the rabbit, you're protecting all the communities of plants, of insects, of other biodiversity and, through our rehabilitation programme, we're actually provisioning ecosystem services," said Bragg.

The EWT works to restore ecosystems in Riverine areas which has a direct benefit for people, Bragg asserted.

"If you keep your ecosystems services sustainably healthy and functioning, you're not only protecting biodiversity, you're also protecting humans from climate change impacts."

The programme has broad ambition to conserve the habitat and the EWT employs locals to run a nursery for Karoo shrubs which are then transplanted into the Riverine habitat.

Farmers are central to the strategy to protect the rabbit, as the species occurs on private farmland.

"Because the rabbit only occurs on farmland, we work very closely with farmers - we've been in the Loxton community for more than 10 years now. Our stewardship programme is specifically aimed at working with farmers, providing incentives to them for managing their Riverine Rabbit habitats sustainably," Bragg said.

There is about 350 000ha in farmland conservancies where farmers are working to protect rabbits, she added.


Despite the efforts, the main threat to the rabbit is through loss of habitat through cultivation of the sensitive areas, rather than feral dogs, which are common to rural towns.

"The main threat is habitat loss through cultivation," said Bragg.

She conceded that it was difficult for the public to have empathy for the rabbits because they were so reclusive and even in the environment, it took Bragg eight months before she saw her first Riverine Rabbit in the wild.

"For the public to empathise with the rabbit they often have to see it for themselves, or at least see more images of it. So this is the nice thing about a camera trap trial - we're going to have lots more images so we can start to get people to envision in their mind what these rabbits look like."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    kimberley  |  environment

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Saturday Cape Town - 07:38 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
  • Saturday Cape Town - 07:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Inbound
    ACCIDENT after Jan Smuts Drive
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Tab P7500 10.1" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 gives you a better experience for...

From R4999.00

I'm shopping for:


Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.