Project Team: Alwyn Lubbe (EWT), Christy Bragg (EWT), Bridget Corrigan (EWT), Martine Jordaan (CapeNature), Mandy Schumman (DENC) and Bruce Paxton (FRC)

The Cape Critical Rivers (CCR) Project is a ground-breaking initiative that aims to bridge biodiversity conservation with water resource management in the Western Cape, South Africa  in original ways.  Supported by the Save Our Species (SOS) fund, the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s (EWT) Drylands Conservation and Source to Sea Programmes are working with project partners, CapeNature, the Department of Environment and Nature Conservation, Northern Cape (DENC) and the Freshwater Research Centre (FRC) towards protecting threatened freshwater ecosystems and species in the Cape Floristic Region (CFR).  Its primary objective is to support the implementation of Biodiversity Management Plans (BMPs) for two endangered CFR freshwater fish species: the Clanwilliam sandfish and the Barrydale redfin.  One of the gaps identified during public consultations was that there are insufficient resources among the local authorities to implement the BMPs.  This project aims to fill that gap and capacitate the authorities to protect Cape rivers and the endangered species they support. 


The CCR Project aims to:

- Actively engage municipalities, Water User Associations (WUAs), landowners and conservation authorities on water resources management issues in three critical Western and Northern Cape catchments: the Huis River in Barrydale, the Kouebokkeveld near Ceres and the Oorlogskloof River in the Northern Cape;

- Collect quantitative hydrological data from these catchments and use this data to review and reconcile water resources use and abstraction in each of the relevant catchments;

- Ascertain whether the Ecological Reserve (i.e. the environmental flow allocation) is being met in key catchments - and if not, to suggest water conservation or re-allocation measures that will ensure that it will be met in the future;- Communicate and provide information on the risks of translocating alien fish species to landowners and assist conservation authorities in developing translocation policies for indigenous fish species;- Assess the current status of Doring River populations of Clanwilliam sandfish and establish at least one additional breeding population in a selected tributary that is free of alien fish. 


To date, six loggers have been installed in the focal project areas.  These will enable us to estimate instantaneous, daily, monthly and annual flow volumes in key rivers for the lifespan of the project and beyond.  This information will be critical in verifying the quantities estimated for the Ecological Reserve and for providing WUAs and municipalities with data on water availability and use.  Following IUCN guidelines on re-introducing fish into areas where they would previously have occurred, we are investigating translocation and/or breeding programmes for the Clanwilliam sandfish to boost their populations and re-introduce them to rehabilitated areas that fall within their former historical distribution ranges.

If you would like more information on the project, please don’t hesitate to contact the Dr Bruce Paxton  ( ;