It has come NEAG’s attention that inaccurate information is being circulated that the endemic Cape Dune Mole rat is an imported species to the area and that only the golden mole is endemic.
This is certainly untrue and the reality is that the Dune Mole rat – it is not a mole at all – is very much an endemic species that only occurs in the SW Cape, between PE and Namaqualand.
More information on this fascinating species is available here
This is a fascinating species and although it is not threatened, its major habitat, lowland coastal fynbos, is amongst the most threatened biome locally. Therefore there is indirect threat to them.
Because they live underground a lot is still to be discovered about them;
It is evident that there is an active drive to get rid of these mammals from the Noordhoek area by horse riders and that the horse community has been active in spreading this inaccurate information about the Cape Dune Mole Rat. This was clearly the case on the common in justification for poisoning them there, a practice now thankfully halted. By poisoning these mammals we are inadvertently killing other non-target species, many of which are useful, such as the mole snake, which keeps rodents under control!
Finally we were also informed that the local mole snake – of which individiuals of at least 4 ft long, of significant girth have been seen- are not capable of attacking or eating these mammals. Again this is untrue. The mole snake is a constrictor and is a surprisingly aggressive snake – they are known to retaliate when moved around! – and is quite capable of attacking and eating mole rats. This is backed up by the Wikipedia article above as well as in this published paper.
While mole rats may be considered an economic pest, this is primarily because combine harvesters and tractors can fall into their brood chambers and sustain damage or overturn. They also love root vegetables. However if you are not a grain or vegetable farmer there is no reason to kill or remove these animals from this area. Like the baboons they were here first and we should be proud to share our territory with them. There are ways to garden with them and share our space and as far as horse riders are concerned, discretion is the better part of valour – same as when riding in the interior with the presence of meerkat burrows!