An historic account of the extinct high rainfall grasslands of the Soutpansberg, South Africa.
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It has been estimated that approximately 30% of the grassland biome of South Africa has been permanently transformed. An account of the demise of these high rainfall grasslands of the Soutpansberg, which occurred on soils derived from weathered basalt using historic accounts and photographic records, is given. This article also strives to quantify the extent of these extinct high rainfall grasslands using the concept of a climatic N-value in correlation with the underlying geology of the area. Historic as well as photographic records show the rapid demise of these grasslands with the main period of transformation occurring between the 1920s and 1950s. Modelling the extent of the extinct grasslands using a combination of basalt distribution and climatic N-value has shown that they covered approximately 10% of the Soutpansberg. Regional habitat change in combination with over exploitation has led to the localised extinction of 14 mammalian herbivore species, nine of which were specialized grazers. The contributing factors to the demise of these grasslands are complex and usually entail an interaction of various influences. Most of these contributing factors are as a direct result of anthropogenic activities.