THE REINTRODUCTION OF LITHOPS SCHWANTESII SUBSP. SCHWANTESII VAR. RUGOSA INTO THEIR NATURAL HABITAT ON THE FARM SINCLAIR IN SOUTHERN NAMIBIA.
Lithops schwantesii subsp. gebseri are rare plants in habitat. The type locality some 40km NW of Helmeringhausen in southern Namibia contains a small population believed to be less than 50 adult plants at present. A second colony of these plants, about 3km from the type locality on the farm Aubores seems to have disappeared from habitat in the late 1980's when they were last seen by the then farm owner who had been monitoring the population for many years prior to this. In 2016 theLithops Research & Conservation Foundation reported on the presence of a colony of Lithops s. schwantesii rugosa plants some 40km south of the type locality and in the typical mixed sandstone and calcrete rubble habitat that was seen at Aubores. The population here is also quite small at present, with only 15 adult plants widely spread in a vast area of suitable habitat.
After exhaustive searches on the farm Sinclair no var. rugosa plants could be found and plans we put into place to reintroduce these plants back into their natural habitat.
With the permission of the owner of the farm Aubores, a seed capsule of one of the plants at the type locality was collected and the 18 seeds recovered from the seed capsule were sown in the nursery at the Cole Lithoparium in 2009. The plants grown from this sowing flowered well from 2013 onwards and large numbers of seeds were harvested. In March 2015 the first seeds from this harvest were sown specifically for the purpose of producing young plants that could be reintroduced into their natural habitat on the farm Sinclair.
The new owner of the farm is very enthusiastic about the reintroduction of Lithops schwantesii schwantesii rugosa on his farm. With the first batch of young plants ready to be reintroduced into their former habitat, the plan is to carry out the field planting early in 2018 or as soon as good rain has fallen in the area.
Planting of Lithops schwantesii subsp. schwantesii var. rugosa at Sinclair
After good rains in the area on 28 and 29 March and again on 15 April 2018, we decided that the first planting of L. schwantesii s. rugosa into its former habitat on the farm Sinclair was on the cards. On 19 April 2018 the first 104 three-year-old plants were established in the area on the farm where they used to grow. The young plants were planted in groups of four in the semi-shade of small bushes in the habitat. After planting, the introduced plants were watered weekly for a few weeks during the initial establishment phase. On 19 May 2018, one month after the planting, the introduction site was re-visited and 100 of the plants were found to be in good condition and growing well indicating an early success with this re-establishment project. Another batch of young plants will be introduced into habitat in 2019.