Tankwa Karoo National Park is a national park in South Africa. The park lies about 70 km due west of Sutherland near the border of the Northern Cape and Western Cape, in one of the most arid regions of South Africa, with areas receiving less than 100 mm of average annual precipitation, moisture-bearing clouds from the Atlantic Ocean being largely stopped by the Cederberg mountains.
Other low areas receive little more, as the Roodewerf station (coordinates: S32°14’27.9” E20°05’44.5”) with 180 mm of mean annual rainfall. In the hottest areas of the park, the mean maximum temperature in January is 38.9 °C, and in July the mean minimum temperature ranges from about 5 to 7 °C.
Before this Park’s proclamation, the only protected area of Succulent Karoo was the 2 square kilometre patch of the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve.
Succulent Karoo has, together with the Cape Floral Kingdom, been declared a Biodiversity Hotspot by Conservation International.
Tankwa’s area has been increased from an initial 260 to 1436 km2. It is bounded on the east by the Roggeveld Mountains, on the west by the Cederberg, to the north by the Kouebokkeveld Mountains and on the south by the scattered foothills of the Koedoesberge and Klein Roggeveld Mountains, and the Tankwa River.
The park’s headquarters are located at Roodewerf (GPS coordinates: S 32° 14’ 27.9” E 20° 5’ 44.5”). Distances from the nearest towns to the park’s headquarters are: Ceres (180 km), Sutherland (120 km), Calvinia (110 km) and Middelpos (52 km).
In 1998 Conrad Strauss sold 280 km2 of sheep farm to the South African National Parks. The park has started the reintroduction of game that used to be found naturally in the area. Research was done beforehand to ensure that introduced animals would survive on the overgrazed veld.
The vegetation in the park falls within the Succulent Karoo biome and has been described as very sparse shrubland and dwarf shrubland. Several unique succulent genera occur here, such as Tanquana, Braunsia and Didymaotus.
The park is home to a large variety of birds (188 species – 2015 figure), such as the black-headed canary, Ludwig’s bustard, and the black-eared sparrow-lark. Peak birding season is August to October.
List of mammals
Aardvark/Antbear (Orycteropus afer)
Aardwolf (Proteles cristatus)
Southern African wildcat (Felis lybica)
Bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis)
Black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas)
Cape fox (Vulpes chama)
Cape golden mole (Chrysochloris asiatica)
Cape hare (Lepus capensis)
Caracal (Felix caracal)
Chacma baboon (Papio cynocephalus ursinus)
Four-striped grass mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio)
Gerbil mouse (Malacothrix typica)
Grey duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia)
Grey rhebok (Palea capreolus)
House mouse (Mus domesticus)
Karoo bushrat (Otomys unisulcatis)
Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus)
Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros’)
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Meerkat (Suricata suricatta)
Cape porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis)
Ratel/honey badger (Mellivora capensis)
Rock dassie/hyrax (Procavia capensis)
Scrub hare (Lepus saxatilis)
Small-spotted genet (Genetta genetta)
Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis)
Steenbok (Raphicerus campestris)
Striped polecat/zorilla (Ictonyx striatus)
Yellow mongoose (Cynictis penicillata)
List of birds
Acacia pied barbet
African black swift
African pied starling
African red-eyed bulbul
African reed warbler
Black-chested snake eagle
Cape clapper lark
Cape penduline tit
Cape turtle dove
Greater striped swallow
Karoo long-billed lark
South African shelduck
Southern double-collared sunbird
Southern grey-headed sparrow
Southern masked weaver
Pale chanting goshawk
Southern red bishop
Spotted eagle owl