Ouberg PNR is located at the confluence of three of South Africa's biomes : Succulent Karoo, Fynbos and Albany Thicket. It is approximately 1000 hectares in size and is situated in the Klein (Little) Karoo, Western Cape, South Africa. As a result of a combination of the geology, soils, topography, geographic location and climate, this old farm is home to an incredibly surprising diversity of plants (flora) and animals (fauna). Walking in the veld is never the same - every day, every month, every season reveals different flowers and plants, insects, birds and reptiles. Most of the mammals that occur on the farm are nocturnal or well hidden or shy, so camera traps have been a fantastic tool in revealing which species call our farm home, or are just passing through.

A BRIEF HISTORY

Ouberg was originally part of a much larger farm, still shown as Rietkuil on the topographical maps (1:50 000). Evidence suggests that for at least the last 100 years, the farm ran sheep and probably goats. Small areas that were suitable for cultivation were used to grow fodder including lucerne and oats. A few fruit trees were planted around the original farmhouse and it is believed that sultanas were also cultivated. The portion of Rietkuil we purchased in 2009 had since been stocked with a herd of springbok, about 60 strong at the time, a couple of Gemsbok, and a few sheep were grazed on the area occasionally. At the time of purchase, parts of the veld were pristine, while other parts, especially where the springbok, and clearly before that the sheep preferred to hang out, were severely degraded.

Even further back in time, we have found the cores of stone tools in certain areas on the farm, hinting at the use of the area by early herders and hunter-gatherers, probably the Khoikhoi people (www.khoisan.org). There is also the remnants of an ancient sheep kraal near a spring indicating that herders might have moved through the valley probably between the top of the Ouberg Pass into the Great Karoo and the fertile valley of the Little Karoo between Montagu and Ladismith. This is something we would like to try to find out about - we have not had time to research this, so this is just what we think may have been the case before European setters arrived in the area.

The original farmhouse is called Sandouw - an unusual name, and it seems may be of German origin from some very brief research. We think the original farmhouse, a rectangular building with mud and shale stone, with a thatch roof, was constructed around 1880, but again, a lot more research is required.

OUR AIM AND MISSION

Our aim is to conserve the biodiversity (plants and animals) on the farm through allowing the vegetation to recover, removal of alien and invasive plant species, and through rehabilitation of eroded and degraded areas. As soon as the veld is in a suitable condition, we would like to re-introduce animals, such as Cape Mountain Zebra, to complement the species that already occur on the farm and in the area. Research is key for this to be successful, therefore part of our mission is to make the property accessible to researchers from tertiary institutions and recognised NGOs to carry out projects concerning geology, hydrology, botany, zoology, ecology and other conservation disciplines.