Drylands Conservation Programme

The Endangered Wildlife Trust Drylands Conservation Programme’s mission is to maintain ecosystem conditions in the drylands that can support biodiversity, including threatened species such as Riverine Rabbit, whilst simultaneously ensuring socio-economic benefits to landowners and communities.

Conservation status of the Riverine Rabbit
The Riverine Rabbit (scientific name: Bunolagus monticularis) is also known in Afrikaans as the Oewerkonyn, Doekvoetjie, Vleihaas, Boshaas. Historically it was referred to as the Pondhaas because not long after its discovery, Captain G. C Shortridge, the curator of a museum in King Williams Town, offered a pound (the currency at the time) for each rabbit brought to him.
The Riverine Rabbit is one of southern Africa's most threatened mammals and is listed as Critically Endangered. In the eighties it was suggested that the remaining suitable habitat might support a maximum of 1400 rabbits in the Karoo. However, new isolated populations have since been found (in 2003) in the Western Cape near Montagu and Touwsriver. At present the EWT-DCP is trialing new innovative camera trap census technique in order to find a way to count these elusive creatures of the Karoo plains.  Only a small proportion of Riverine Rabbit habitat is protected within provincial nature reserves or national parks and the majority of the species distribution range is private Karoo farmland or private reserves, such as the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve.

Distribution range, habitat and threats of the Riverine Rabbit
The Riverine Rabbit is endemic to the semi-arid Great Karoo and parts of the Klein Karoo region of South Africa. The Riverine Rabbit functions as the flagship species as well as an indicator species for the river ecosystems of the Karoo as its regional extinction in many areas of its former natural distribution range is indicative of the degraded status of the riverbanks along the perennial Karoo rivers.

How to distinguish a Riverine Rabbit from other South African hares and rabbits
Rabbits and hares belong to the order Lagomorpha and to the family Leporidae. In the Karoo there are two hare species, the Cape Hare Lepus capensis and Scrub Hare Lepus saxatilis and two rabbit species, the Hewitt's Red Rock Rabbit Pronolagus saundersiae and the Riverine Rabbit Bunolagus monticularis. Rabbits are born blind, hairless and immobile and are therefore totally dependent on their mother after birth. Hare offspring are born with open eyes, fully furred and active within 48h after birth...Download our pamphlet: (sightings information form / contact details / information on Rabbits & Hares.Download pdf.


 

How can you assist the EWT-DCP in saving the Riverine Rabbit from extinction?
Please contact us if you see a Riverine Rabbit or you thought you saw one. It would be important to us to receive detailed information from you on date, time and locality of your sighting.
Should you find a carcass of a Riverine Rabbit in the veld or perhaps on the back roads of the Karoo please keep it refrigerated (don’t freeze it) and contact us immediately. We need any sample of the species we can get for our genetic analyses. (But please do not kill any rabbit for this purpose).

  • Please help us to increase awareness on this unique mammal and its threatened habitat in South Africa by informing your family, friends and colleagues about its unique place in the Karoo ecosystems
  • Please consider supporting us financially – even a small donation goes a long way. Make a contribution through GivenGainwebpage.
  • If you think you might have Riverine Rabbit habitat on your farm or smallholding, think about purchasing a camera trap to put out in suitable habitat and please send us any pictures that might be one of these beautiful bunnies

Contact us:

Cobus Theron: Programme Manager cobust@ewt.org.za
Bonnie Schumann: Senior Field Officer bonnies@ewt.org.za
Esther Matthew Field Work Intern email
Insauf De Vries: Assistant Intern insaufd@ewt.org.za