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20,000 different plants and counting

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South Africa


  • Quick Facts:


    121,988 hectares (471,443 sq. mi.)

  • Key Landmarks

    1. Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park
    2. Cape Floral Kingdom
    3. The Vredefort Dome
    4. Kruger National Park
  • Animals

    Blue crane, Cape buffalo, elephant, lion, rhinoceros, leopard, kudu, cheetah, ostrich, black mamba, riverine rabbit

  • Primary Ecosystems

    Desert, savanna, montane grassland, forest

  • Population


    Tags: South Africa, Southern Africa, Limpopo, Elephant, Great Fish River, Rhinoceros, Buffalo, Cheetah, Kudu, Leopard, Lion

  • Limpopo Leopard Conservation Billy Dodson
  • Limpopo Leopard Conservation Billy Dodson
  • Limpopo Leopard Conservation Philip Muruthi
  • Limpopo Leopard Conservation AWF
  • South Africa
  • South Africa
  • South Africa Kathleen Fitzgerald
  • South Africa daryl and Sharna Balfour
  • Great Fish River

South Africa is one of the world’s biggest megadiverse countries.

The Republic of South Africa is in the southernmost region of the continent. Its long coastline stretches along the South Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean for more than 1,500 miles. While its coastline is lush, the rest of its geography is vast, flat, sparsely populated, and drier. More than 1,000 miles south of the mainland lie the Prince Edward Islands, a small sub-Antarctic archipelago.

South Africa has the largest economy in Africa. Tourism is one of the country’s greatest sources of revenue. Unlike other African nations, agriculture only accounts for 10% of the population’s employment. The land has so little water, only about 13% can be used for crops.

Megadiverse countries are those with a majority of our planet’s species. South Africa’s incredible biodiversity is ranked sixth out of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries. And, it has more than 20,000 different plants (or about 10% of our planet’s known species) and a wide variety of mammals, including the endangered riverine rabbit.


In 2012, 668 rhinos were killed. How many more will perish this year?

South Africa has lost some of its natural habitat from overpopulation and development. Invasive alien species also cause major threats to the rich biodiversity and the country’s scarce water. 

Deforestation is also a serious issue, with some areas reduced to small patches of forest. To help safeguard some of the country’s hardwood trees, like Real Yellowwood and Black Ironwood, they are under government protection.

South Africa is home to the largest population of rhinos on the continent, a fact poachers are capitalizing on. In 2012, a record 668 rhinos were killed in South Africa. Despite the government’s laudable efforts to combat rhino poaching, the crisis continues.

Priority Landscapes

Will you show South Africa your support?

With your help, African Wildlife Foundation is making a real difference in South Africa with efforts that include the Greater Kruger Leopard Conservation Science Project to better understand leopards, supporting conservancies that harbor critical rhino populations, and more. Donate for a cause that will help the people of South Africa, their lands, and their wildlife.

  • Limpopo Leopard Conservation Theodore Mattis
    Limpopo Leopard Conservation
    Studying leopards to ensure their future

    Little is known about the leopard’s conservation status.

    Leopards are solitary, nocturnal creatures that prefer to live in dense bush where their camouflage helps them...

    Read more
    All Projects

  • Great Fish river Rhino Conservation Fred Hoogervorst
    Great Fish River Rhino Conservation
    Protecting black rhinos in South Africa

    More than 75% of the world’s rhino population lives in South Africa.

    Black rhinos are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation...

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    All Projects

  • Rhinos at the rhino sanctuary at Hluhluwe iMflozi
    Rhino Sanctuary at Hluhluwe iMfolozi
    Protecting white rhino at one of their last remaining refuges

    Even protected areas are not completely safe from poaching. 

    Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, in South Africa, is one of the flagship protected areas of the Ezemvelo KwaZulu–Natal Wildlife,...

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    All Projects

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