Some of the world’s most important archaeological sites are located in the Central Karoo, particularly the Beaufort West and Nelspoort areas with their multitude of stone-age sites and petroglyphs, rock engravings, done by the earliest hunter-gatherers. The Great Karoo is integral to the work of the world’s scientists, botanists, archaeologists, geologists, palaeontologists and ecologists. For those who care to look, the story of the evolution of mammals from reptiles is here recorded in stone. And the story is 190 to 500 million years old.
Game animals to whom these plains and mountains are home makes the Great Karoo an outpost of nature where man’s intrusion is still but a light touch. Here are found many species of plains game, hyrax, Hartman mountain Zebra, fallow deer, wild ostrich, guinea fowl, the Egyptian goose and lynx. Bird life is abundant. The endangered black rhinoceros and the riverine rabbit have also been re-established in the Karoo So has the quagga, a species once extinct, but which has now been regenerated from portions of its genetic code found in tissue samples taken from mounted museum exhibits.