The Succulent Karoo, including desert,
covers about 7.5% of the country (approximately 83 000 km2).
This biome covers the arid
western parts of South Africa, including Namaqualand and the
The region is extremely dry in summer and
the temperature often rises above 40oC. Rain falls in
winter and varies from 20 to 290 mm per year.
The Succulent Karoo has the largest number
plants in the world for a region of its size. Most of these plants
have succulent leaves, and many are very tiny, like the stone
Plants in the Succulent Karoo are adapted
to survive extremely dry summers. Succulent plants like small vygies
and crassulas and the large Quiver Tree store water in their leaves
and/or stems. Some trees have white bark to reflect heat. Annual
daisies and geophytes
remain dormant in summer and grow and flower after the winter rains.
Most wild animals are small, like the
Bat-Eared Fox, Suricate (Meerkat), Barking Gecko, birds and
invertebrates. Many are nocturnal
and hide in burrows in the ground during the day to avoid the hot, dry
Many parts of the Succulent Karoo are
famous for their spring flowers. Flower tourism is an important source
of income. Ostriches are farmed in the Little Karoo.
The Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Programme (SKEP)
has been developed to conserve this region. For more information go to