The Nama Karoo is the third largest biome
in South Africa, covering about 20.5% of the country or more than 260
000 km2. It stretches across the vast central plateau of
the western half of the country.
It is a semi-desert that receives a little
rain in summer. Rainfall varies from about 200 mm per year in the west
to 400 mm per year in the north-east. Summer is very hot and winter is
very cold with frequent frost.
Most of the plants are low shrubs and
grasses. Many plants are deciduous.
Trees like the Sweet Thorn (Acacia karoo) are usually only
found along rivers or on rocky hillsides.
Common animals include the Bat-Eared Fox,
Ostrich, Spring Hare, tortoises and Brown Locust. The Riverine Rabbit
is a threatened species found in the Nama Karoo.
The Nama Karoo never had the variety
of wildlife that you find in the Savanna Biome. But in the past vast
herds of Springbok used to migrate through the region in search of
water and grazing. These herds were destroyed and replaced with sheep.
The Nama Karoo is famous for sheep and
goat farming. In the main river valleys, people also farm olives,
citrus and deciduous fruit.