It’s fitting, I think, that we end our Easter Eco Fact posts with one on our only real rabbits in South Africa, the Riverine Rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis). We love Briony Chisholm’s description of this beautiful Rabbit as “Easter Bunny’s second-cousin-twice-removed-by-habitat.”
The Riverine Rabbit is beautiful. Eyes outlined with white, a distinctive black stripe stretching from mouth to cheek, great big ears that are a soft pink on the inside and a coat of sof grey-brown fur make it irresistibly cute.
The real Riverine Rabbit would not be found in nature, on forest floors, with plenty of compost, mulch and Plectranthus ciliatus as our Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery Bunny was pictured in the retail nursery. It in fact has a very specific area that it occurs in – only along rivers in Nama and Succulent Karoo areas, in the Central and Small Karoo.
In other parts of the country, you will find hares, which are related to the Riverine Rabbit. They are Natal Red Rock Hare, Jameson’s Red Rock Hare and Smith’s Red Rock Hare and Hewitt’s Red Rock Hare, Cape Hare, African Savannah Hare and Scrub Hare.
It is said that the Riverine Rabbit is the rarest animal in South Africa. This is not only due to its very specific habitat and slow reproductive rate, but mostly due to human interference by way of habitat destruction and degradation. As it is so rare, extremely shy and sits very still (making it super-camouflaged) it is very seldom seen. Luckily, the use of camera traps has changed this, and many of these rabbits have been captured going about their everyday life.
In efforts to boost Riverine rabbit numbers and create further awareness of them, The Endangered Wildlife Trust has set up the Drylands Conservation Programme in Loxton, which coordinates efforts to save Riverine Rabbits. The programme works closely with farmers, helping to revegetate the dry river banks, and in so doing, improving habitat health and thereby boosting rabbit numbers.
We hope you've enjoyed this little Easter promotion. Remember to watch our social media pages for details of the actual Treasure hunt which will still take place when we open again. We'll post these as soon as we can.
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