By Marc Alexander from his ‘In The Balance‘ series. Riverine Rabbit oil and gold leaf on canvas, 50cm by 40cm, (2015).
The critically endangered Riverine Rabbit has an estimated population of 250. Also known as the bushman rabbit, it is the 13th most endangered mammal in the world, being South Africa’s second most threatened species after the De Winton’s golden mole. This rabbit has an extremely limited distribution area, found only in the central and southern regions of the Karoo Desert of South Africa’s Cape Province. It occurs only in dense riverine scrub in the alluvial floodplains of the seasonal rivers in the central Karoo. This rabbit is easily identified by a distinctive white ring around each eye and a black stripe running from the corner of its mouth over its cheek. Contrary to what is commonly believed about rabbits, Riverine rabbits breed very slowly, only 1-2 young per year. Its main threat is loss of habitat. They occupy the flood plains of seasonal Karoo Rivers which are fertile and have therefore been ploughed extensively in some areas. They are also trapped or shot by farm workers.