Velds: The temperate grasslands of South Africa are called the velds. These lie in the southern hemisphere.
Landscape: The velds are rolling plateaus with varying heights ranging from 600 m to 1100 m. To its east, it is bound by the Drakenburg Mountains and to its west lies the Kalahari Desert. ‘High velds’ are located on the north – eastern part. These attain a height of 1600 m in some places. The tributaries of the rivers - Orange and Limpopo, drain the region.
Climate: The climate in the velds is mild due to the influence of the Indian Ocean.
Flora: The vegetation cover is sparse. Red grasses grow in bush velds. In the high velds, acacia and maroola are seen to be growing.
Fauna: The animals of this region are mainly leopards, lions, kudu and cheetah.
The people of this region are involved in the following occupation:
Cattle Rearing: Sheep rearing is the most important activity of the people. Sheep is bred mainly for wool and this has given rise to the wool industry in the velds. Merino sheep is a popular species and their wool is very warm.
Dairy Farming: This is the next important occupation. Cattle are reared in the warmer and wetter regions and the dairy products like butter and cheese are produced both for domestic supply and exports.
Mining: The velds are known for cattle rearing (as mentioned above) and mining. They are rich in mineral wealth. This rich mineral area has a well-developed network of transport. The mining activity includes the following:
Agriculture: In places where the soil is fertile, crops are grown. The main crops are maize, wheat, barley, oats and potato. Cash crops like tobacco, sugarcane and cotton are also grown. In many places, the soil is not very fertile due to the presence of discontinuous grasses exposing barren surface.
Combine: It is a machine used for agricultural purposes. As the name suggests, it is a single machine that can ‘combine’ the tasks of sowing, ploughing and treshing. It is, in other words a ‘three – in-one’ machine.
Chinook: It is a hot wind that blows in winter in the prairie region, thus raising the temperature within a short time. This increase in temperature leads to the melting of snow, thus making pasture land available for the grazing of animals.
The grasslands of Prairies were the home of the native Americans, also known as the ‘Red Indians’. They were the actual habitants of the continent. The prairies were home of the other tribes also like the Apache, the Crow, the Cree and the Pawnee.
The name ‘veld’ was given by the Dutch settlers before South Africa was colonized by the British.
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