3 invasive species that threaten the native nature of South Africa

Invasive species, for those who do not know, are those that were introduced into ecosystems that did not originally belong in their natural habitats. Due to the lack of natural predators, greater reproductive capacity or other adaptive traits, these creatures settle in the new area and can threaten biodiversity, human health and even the local economy.

This year, Cape Town, South Africa's legislative capital, has almost become the first major city in the world to run out of water. One of the causes that can be pointed to the catastrophe was the possible increase in the presence of invasive species in the region, including plants and insects.

In addition to the significant financial cost, estimated at about $ 450 million a year (just under $ 1.7 billion), the South African National Biodiversity Institute report finds that invasive species are responsible for a quarter of the country's biodiversity losses.

Non-standard headquarters

Exotic plants such as Black Acacia and some species of pine and shrub usually use more water than native plants in South African territory. This year's report estimates that invasive trees and shrubs, if left unchecked, could threaten up to one-third of the water supply to cities like Cape Town and consume up to 5 percent of the country's average annual rainfall runoff. Here are some examples of invasive species that threaten the country:

1 - The Argentine Ant

Another possible case of being an invasive species in South African lands is the popular Formiga Argentina, Linepithema humile, originally native to South America. The feeding and behavior of the insect - dark brown in color - prevents the correct dispersal of seeds from native plants of the region.

Argentine Ant

(The Diversity of Insects / Alex Wild)

2 - Not so harmless little plant

The legume Prosopis glandulosa, also originally from America, was introduced throughout Africa for animal fodder. It is a shrub that can grow more effectively than local plants, competing for resources and space. There is also evidence that the plant could attract Anopheles mosquitoes, responsible for the transmission of diseases such as malaria, for example.

Prosopis glandulosa

(Plant Master)

3 - The water hyacinth that grows to choke

So common in our lands, the water hyacinth ( Eichhornia crassipes ) also originates from South America. The problem is that outside its original habitat, it grows irregularly and is capable of stifling dams and canals as it did in Africa. southern.

Water hyacinth


* This text was written by Raquel Sanzovo, biologist and educator of the Education Department of Unesp Botucatu.


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