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Last updated : 01/04/2007

This page is indexed on our home page under Aspect: 10. Natural Environment and the Section: Threats to Indigenous Reptiles

Development, humans and loss of Habitat

Human Encroachment and Loss of habitat

We have all had personal experiences of the changes in the environment in which we live. When my Dad grew up in Hout Bay the 5 or 6 Km walk to the beach was down a dirt track and he would pass 8 Farm houses. Today this is just one continuous mass of houses.

The same thing is happening in Table View which must be one of the fastest developing urban areas in South Africa. Fourways in Gauteng has also experienced massive development, in the last 15 years. In an area that used to be small holdings, there are now shopping centers and luxury housing estates.

All the wild animals in these areas are either destroyed when construction and building starts, by heavy construction equipment, buried under tons of land fill or killed by construction workers. If the animals survives this onslaught they are forced to seek alternative habitat. This may or may not be open veld it could also happen to be another developed area, where once again they will be under attack.

Then there is intensive agriculture, open cast mining, roads, and pollution which destroys habitat.

The animals do not stand much chance.

Futher Reading

The impact of construction on our environment by Ian Dewsbury

The Seductive Language of Development or Development Drivel    Article 1  In Environmental Forum

A typical Environmental Impact Assessment Report - Hawaan Forest Estate ( Look for "Python" and "Chameleon")

Mining: Alluvial diamond mining

Indiscriminate slaughter of snakes.

Education is severely lacking in schools. Our natural fear of snakes and lizards results in them being killed irrespective of them being harmless ie Mole Snake, little Slug Eater or even an aggressive House Snake. Secondly, people love their chickens, pigeons, and so do snakes, which results in a clash of interest. 

Road Kills

Reptiles have to cross roads in fact all animals do and they are often killed in the process. Snakes have the habit of warming themselves on the road and this just increases the risk of them being run over.

Bush and veld Fires

If a fire is slow burning some reptiles will be able to seek refuge in rock crevices and in old termite mounds etc. But if the fire is fast, few will escape and as for the poor tortoise, they stand very little chance. The recent fires in the Cape on Table Mountain and in the Overberg (Feb 2006) must have destroyed thousands of reptiles, if not hundreds of thousands.

Inbalance in nature

Caused by humans who protect one species, which results in an imbalance in the natural state. This could increase a predatory species that preys on a protected species such as Badgers and wild dogs on reptiles.

Predation on Turtles and Tortoises by a "Subsidized Predator"

Reptiles in game parks

The high concentration of animals in a relatively small area, increases the risk of predation.

African Rock Python used for Bush meat.

There is link which purports to show how indigenous people catch an African rock python which would be funny if it where not for the fact that the poor African Rock python suffered what appears to be a termination of life. So preparing yourselves for this please feel free to view the PowerPoint presentation if you so wish. Careful observation will show that their are some inconsistencies in the sequences. Download.

Poverty Driving Africans to Eat 'Bushmeat'    Article 1Article 2, Article 3

Skin Trade

The trade statistics reveal that massive volumes of reptiles skins are used in the leather trade. Some of these are commercially farmed, such as Crocodiles, ball pythons and Monitors, and some are not. Either way, the ethical dilemma of whether it is ethical to use reptiles for this purpose or not is best left to the activists and other interested parties. Suffice to say, if I was a baby monitor and I had a choice, I would rather take my chance and be stuffed in a box and be shipped off to a pet shop, and hope that some kind person would feed me and look after me for the rest of my life, than be fattened up on a commercial farm only to be slaughtered for my hide.


Further reading

50/50 Fact sheet on reptiles

White Paper on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa's Biological Diversity

What is Biodiversity?

Vanishing reptiles prompt concern

Bitter Sweet Sugarbirds pay the price of perfection By Jennifer Freeman, Africa Birds and Birding ...example of the impact of Agriculture.

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Last update : 01/04/2007