The Karoo veld is not only about small shrubs, sheep, grass and stone. There is food and shelter here for a myriad of mostly small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and arachnoids. There is a wealth of succulent species and rare Karoo plants concealed in grass or under shrubs for most of the time, showing themselves at bloomtime to those coming close.
One has to spend time quietly, watching carefully for introductions while avoiding disruption and destruction. Some people that live here know and value nature as manifested in the unexpected Karoo diversity and beauty. Many have learnt to tread carefully and to live lightly enough for conserving the natural treasures in a personal share of custodianship. This is why the fights over development projects and inroads into pristine veld, recently focussed on fracking, are here so fierce.
The carrying capacity of economically active people in the Karoo is low, particularly if conservation counts for something. Many children of the Karoo leave to make their living elsewhere. However, once a Karoo kid, always a Karoo kid. They return to visit, sometimes only ruins, graves and long drives. They keep photo albums, scrimp and save for Karoo landscape paintings and these days grow digital files for reliving memories, retaining their Karoo roots.
Later generations know less about these things, although the succulents in patio and stoep containers or garden rockeries may still generate stories about ancestral farms where the plants originated from and may still grow in the wild. And when the memories become vague enough, all can share in adventitious Karoo roots, whether an ancestor harked from there or not.