Tankwa Karoo National Park

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 hoopoe

African pied starling

African pipit

African red-eyed bulbul

African reed warbler

African snipe

Alpine swift


Barn owl

Barn swallow

Black-chested snake eagle

Black-eared sparrow-lark

Black harrier

Black-headed canary

Blacksmith lapwing

Black stork

Black-winged stilt


Booted eagle

Brown-throated martin

Burchell’s courser

Cape bulbul

Cape bunting

Cape clapper lark

Cape crow

Cape penduline tit

Cape shoveler

Cape siskin

Cape sparrow

Cape spurfowl

Cape turtle dove

Cape wagtail

Cape weaver

Capped wheatear

Chestnut-vented warbler

Southern fiscal

Common quail

Common waxbill

Double-banded courser

Dusky sunbird

Egyptian goose

European bee-eater

European starling

Fairy flycatcher

Familiar chat

Greater flamingo

Greater honeyguide

Greater kestrel

Greater striped swallow

Grey-backed cisticola

Grey-backed sparrow-lark

Grey heron

Grey tit

Grey-winged francolin

Hadeda ibis

Helmeted guineafowl

House sparrow

Jackal buzzard

Karoo bustard

Karoo chat

Karoo eremomela

Karoo lark

Karoo long-billed lark

Karoo prinia

Karoo scrub-robin

Karoo thrush

Kittlitz’s plover

Kori bustard

Lanner falcon

Large-billed lark

Lark-like bunting

Laughing dove

Layard’s tit-babbler

Lesser honeyguide

Lesser kestrel

Little swift

Long-billed crombec

Long-billed pipit

Ludwig’s bustard

Malachite sunbird

Marsh sandpiper

Martial eagle

Mountain wheatear

Namaqua dove

Namaqua sandgrouse

Namaqua warbler

Pale-winged starling

Peregrine falcon

Pied crow

Pririt batis

Red-billed teal

Red-capped lark

Red-faced mousebird

Red-knobbed coot

Rock kestrel

Rock martin

Rufous-eared warbler


Sickle-winged chat

South African shelduck

Southern double-collared sunbird

Southern grey-headed sparrow

Southern masked weaver

Pale chanting goshawk

Southern red bishop

Speckled pigeon

Spike-heeled lark

Spotted eagle owl

Spotted thick-knee

Steppe buzzard

Three-banded plover

Tractrac chat

Verreaux’s eagle

Wattled starling

White-backed mousebird

White-necked raven

White-rumped swift

White-throated canary

Willow warbler

Yellow-bellied eremomela

Yellow-billed kite

Yellow canary