Reptile Awareness Day Lettas Kraal

5 October 2021

Jean-Pierre Le Roux, former Field Officer, EWT Drylands Conservation Programme

The Western Cape is rich in reptile diversity, with 155 species and subspecies recorded in the province, of which 22 are endemic. The Anysberg lies within the Cape Fold Mountains, and the vegetation is transitional between mountain fynbos and typical Klein Karoo veld. The different vegetation types and altitudinal variations make it a prime area for reptiles. The Anysberg is home to 54 species of reptiles, many of which can be found on Lettas kraal Private Nature Reserve.

During the survey conducted in 2020, 31 reptile species were recorded on Lettas Kraal, some of the common species included Angulate Tortoise (Chersina angulata), Karoo Sand Snake (Psammophis notostictus), Western Sandveld Lizard (Nucras tessellate), Karoo Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion gutturale) and Bibron’s Thick-Toed Gecko (Chondrodactylus bibronii). Some species that occur in the are also of conservation importance, such as the Karoo Dwarf Tortoise (Chersobius boulengeri). This species is endemic to South Africa and is currently listed as Endangered by the IUCN.  Because of the size of Lettas Kraal (+- 7000 ha), it makes a considerable contribution to the protection of reptiles in formal conservation areas.

Reptiles encountered on Lettas kraal

From Left to Right

Cape Legless Skink (Acontias meleagris), Thick-toed Gecko (Pachydactylus geitje), Angulate Tortoise (Chersina angulata), Bibrons gecko (Chondrodactylus bibronii) and Rock Agama (Agama atra)

Given the importance of the area, we decided to host a reptile awareness day at Lettas kraal for landowners and farmworkers of the Anysberg area. The talk covered all the reptile families, identifying them, and which species to look out for. During the section on snakes, we focused on identifying the venomous species, busting popular myths, how to avoid getting bitten, the different types of snake venom, and what to do in a snakebite emergency. Given how far most of the farms are from medical facilities, we also included sections on the dangerous spiders and scorpions of the area. After the talk, we had a practical session where participants could look at some of the common species found in the area.

Other Species found

From Left to Right
Lizard’s tail (Crassula pyramidalis), Snake Flower (Ornithogalum maculatum), Riverine Rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis) and Cape Thicktail Scorpion (Parabuthus capensis).