The Himalayan Tahrs of Table Mountain
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Have you ever seen a peculiar, goat-like mammal trotting the slopes of Table Mountain? If so, you’ve stumbled upon the infamous Himalayan Tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus), a large ungulate (“hoofed animal”) native to Northern India, Southern Tibet, China and Nepal (ref). The story of how these exotic, ‘wild goats’ found themselves on Table Mountain is a colourful one. Way back in … Read More

The secret garden: 6 special spots in Kirstenbosch
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Kirstenbosch is no secret, that’s for sure. It’s considered one of the great botanical gardens of the world and without a doubt one of the Mother City’s most popular tourist attractions. Despite the status and grandeur it’s built up over the years, if you spend some time exploring its deeper nooks and crannies, you’ll find a secret garden: a warren … Read More

Saving Stripes – The Cape Mountain Zebra
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The Cape Mountain Zebra’s entire population is restricted to the southern mountains of the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces and at the turn of the century the species was at the brink of extinction, reaching a total low population of around ninety animals in the 1920s. The reason for their decline in numbers was as a result of hunting, habitat … Read More

Biodiversity importance of the Cape Floristic Kingdom
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One of the key values of protected areas is to ensure that the biodiversity of a biome is protected and allowed to function in accordance with natural processes. The Cape Floristic Kingdom is the richest of the world’s six plant kingdoms, proportional to size, and is an epicentre of diversity and endemism. More than 9000 plant species occur in this … Read More

Cape Point – Table Mountain National Park
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Pristine fynbos in full spectacular floral bloom and a vista of views across False Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is just a fraction of what can be expected when visiting the Cape Point section of the Table Mountain National Park. With a number of day-walks that range between an hour and five hours in length and a good road network … Read More

Namaqua National Park
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Fields splashed with floral diversity and colours are ubiquitous with the Namaqua National Park, but this special gem of a biodiversity hotspot has so much more to offer! It lies within the heart of the succulent Karoo and is home to 134 vegetation types of which about 40% are endemic. Gradients change from the rugged yet picturesque coastline through to … Read More

Robberg Nature Reserve
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Often referred to as the Cape Point of the Garden Route, Robberg Nature Reserve lies on the edge of Plettenberg Bay and forms a long narrow peninsula that stretches out for approximately 4kms into the sea. The terrestrial section of the nature reserve is bordered by a productive and critically important marine protected area that hosts whales, dolphins, seals, sharks … Read More

Goukamma Nature Reserve
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Goukamma Nature Reserve covers an area of about 2500has with an additional 14km long marine protected area that extends for 1,8kms offshore. Located in the Southern Cape, Goukamma forms part of the suite of CapeNature managed reserves and despite its relatively small size, a variety of habitats (that includes the fresh water Groenvlei, a productive estuary, coastal dune forest and … Read More

Bontebok National Park
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Lying just off the N2 highway on the outskirts of Swellendam, the scenically beautiful Bontebok National Park comprises of open landscapes of pristine fynbos that are ringed by the distant Langeberg Mountains and the tranquilly flowing Breede River. Bontebok National Park may be the smallest national park in South Africa, but it plays an important role in the conservation of … Read More

The Agulhas National Park
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The Agulhas National Park was originally proclaimed on the 23rd of September 1999 and started off as a 4 ha portion of land. It is situated at the southern-most tip of Africa where a rugged stretch of coastline has claimed many a ship through history. The species-rich biodiversity is based upon unique vegetation that includes mountain, coastal and limestone fynbos … Read More

Olifantsbos: Cape Point’s best-kept secret
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If you’ve been into the Cape Point reserve before, you may have noticed an enticing right turn a little way down the hill before you reach the point. Take it. This is the way to Olifantsbos, one of Cape Point’s best-kept secrets. At the end of the road, you’ll find a beautiful, windswept beach lined with pristine fynbos and dotted … Read More

Biodiversity Economy of the Cape Floristic Kingdom
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Biodiversity in the Cape Floristic Kingdom (CFK) is worth vast amounts to the South African economy. The wild flower industry alone is worth R150 million per annum – 80% of this as foreign exchange. The Cape deciduous fruit industry, that is worth R1 billion per annum and provides 80 000 jobs, is dependant on bees for pollination. In turn these … Read More

Top birding hotspots in the Western Cape
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The Cape Floristic Kingdom, with its unique floral and habitat diversity, is one of South Africa’s most picturesque and most popular birding areas. Although the Fynbos does not have the large variation of bird species that the bushveld does, several endemic and highly sought after species do occur. Below is a selection of five favorite birding locations all within easy … Read More

The African Penguin – Fading away to Extinction!
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When Vasco Da Gama first rounded the Cape a few hundred years ago, African Penguins numbered in their millions. Today, the global population stands at around 30 000 pairs and with the population of this iconic seabird falling at 20% per annum (equating to a loss of 200 pairs per week over a period of 100 years), the African Penguin … Read More

Cape Gannets: Indicators of the state of our oceans?
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The global population of Cape Gannets has decreased by over 20% in just three generations! This is largely as a result of overfishing in the small pelagic fisheries off the South African and Namibian coastlines. Other threats to the species include oil pollution, climate change (that brings increased risk to diseases) and predation from seals. With a reduction of food … Read More

Strikingly beautiful and misunderstood
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Photo Credit: Peter Chadwick To celebrate Reptile Awareness Day we look at one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet, a reptile that strikes fear into the hearts of most mortals. Sharing a top spot with spiders, there are few things, if any, that terrify humans more than snakes. The reality is that most snake encounters occur when snakes … Read More

Estuaries of the Cape Floristic Kingdom
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Even more productive than both the rivers and the oceans that influence them, estuaries are some of our most important coastal ecological features. They are a transition zone where fish, animals and birds congregate to feed, find refuge and grow to adulthood. They are unique places, where land, river and sea merge into a dynamic natural complex and rank along … Read More

Marine Protected Areas within the Cape Floristic Kingdom
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The Cape Floristic Kingdom is blessed with some of the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet. It is where the cold nutrient rich waters of the Benguela current upwell and mix with the warmer tropical Agulhas current. It is also where cold polar seas push northwards in huge storms during the winter months. Together these three ocean forces drive … Read More

Dassies – our little energy efficient herbivores
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Dassies (Procavia capensis) are a common sight when hiking in the Table Mountain National Park. More closely related to elephants than the guinea pigs that they superficially resemble, dassies are one of four living species in the order Hyracoidea, and the only living species in the genus Procavia. When seen on Table Mountain dassies are usually lazing around on rocks … Read More

The Blue Crane – South Africa’s vulnerable national icon
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Last week, while driving through the Swartland’s lush wheat fields, I was met with a spectacular sight, at least 20 Blue Cranes were wandering through the green fields. It was enough to cause a minor traffic jam as day tourists pulled over to photograph our national bird. While those of us in the Cape appreciate this beautiful sighting, we don’t … Read More

The Wild Almond – a little piece of South Africa’s history
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As we celebrate Heritage Day it is fitting for us to think back across the centuries to what has shaped our nation. We have a diverse and often volatile history which has seen a number of wars, generally disputes over land between indigenous people, settlers and colonisers, fought on our soil over the centuries; but have you ever wondered how … Read More

Species in Focus – Cape Sugarbird:
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The Cape Sugarbird is one of two endemic sugarbird species to be found in South Africa and is restricted to the Cape Floristic Kingdom between the Cedarberg Mountains and the Buffalo River near East London, where its distribution is linked to the occurrence of Protea species. It is an altitudinal migrant during summer and winter and when it is not … Read More

Seabird Islands of the Western Cape:
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Critical breeding grounds for African Penguins, Cape Gannets, gulls, cormorants and tern species, the guano islands that lie off the coastline of the Western Cape of South Africa protect seabirds from disturbance and predation from land-based predators. Sadly, the populations of many of these seabirds are in rapid decline due to a variety of human induced pressures and these islands, … Read More

Species in Focus – The Bontebok:
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Historically confined to the coastal plains of the Western Cape, the Bontebok was almost brought to extinction by overhunting. With a remaining population of less than 20 animals, a few farming families on the Agulhas Plain near Bredasdorp started to protect it in the mid 19th century and populations have now slowly recovered to over 2500 animals. The largest single … Read More

Species in Focus – Orange-Breasted Sunbird:
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Measuring in at only around 15cms in length the Orange-Breasted Sunbird has to be one of the Cape Floristic Kingdom’s most attractive endemic species. The male’s spectacular coloration of metal-green head and neck, blue collar and orange belly make it unmistakable, while the female is a much drabber olive-green in color. It is mainly found in dense stands of proteas … Read More

Flagship Species: The Southern Adder
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Southern Africa has an incredible diversity of reptile fauna with a minimum of 517 species that have so far been described. These include 151 snakes, 338 lizards, 27 tortoises and one crocodile. Many more species are still awaiting description in the scientific literature and, sadly, many of these reptiles have largely been ignored in conservation management plans and require special … Read More

The real value of nature-based tourism in the Cape Floristic Kingdom
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The marriage of conservation and human development has never been a happy one; historically the one has usually been accomplished at the expense of the other one. Conservation has excluded human development and has sometimes compromised it, while human development has often been achieved at the expense of non-renewable natural resources. In the past protected areas have been considered a … Read More

Habitat Transformation of the Cape Floristic Kingdom
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Habitat transformation in the Cape Floristic Kingdom (CFK) has been extreme since the time when Jan van Riebeeck landed in South Africa in 1652. As much as 31% of the CFK has already been completely transformed, with the major threats being agriculture, alien plants, afforestation and urbanisation. Although urbanisation is responsible for the smallest area of transformation, the ecological consequences … Read More

Bird Island – Lamberts Bay
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Lamberts Bay, along our west coast, is best known for Bird Island and the 10 000 strong population of breeding Cape Gannets. It attracts thousands of visitors each year who come to view and photograph these charismatic seabirds from the carefully designed viewing hide and to also enjoy the magical vibe of a west coast fishing town. Several other seabird … Read More

Water is Life!
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Without water, the human race would not exist and although much of our planet is covered with water, only 1% of it is usable to us, with 97% being salty and the remaining 2% being trapped in the ice caps. Despite this scarcity, we take water for granted, wasting and polluting it while nearly one billion people in the developing … Read More

Eland – The World’s Largest Antelope
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The eland is the world’s largest antelope and gained its name from the Dutch word ‘eland’ which means ‘elk’. It is one of the most adaptable of the antelopes – equally at home in savannah, sub-desert, woodland and mountainous areas up to 4600m.  In the Western Cape, it is able to survive within the low-nutrient fynbos and herds of up … Read More

West Coast National Park and Langebaan Lagoon
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With incredible picturesque landscapes, vast fields of spring flowers and a high level of endemism, the West Coast National Park is a must see destination. As the only non-estuarine tidal lagoon in South Africa, Langebaan Lagoon forms the central core of this 27600-hectare National Park and it protects about 32% of South Africa’s saltmarshes. Hundreds of thousands of Palaearctic migrant … Read More

De Mond Nature Reserve – Home to the Damara Tern
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Managed by CapeNature, the little known De Mond Nature Reserve lies along the southern Cape coastline almost halfway between Arniston and Struisbaai. The Heuningness River that bisects the reserve widens here before entering the sea, forming a tranquil lagoon that is popular with fishermen and birdwatchers and on clear weather days has an almost tropical feel to it that will … Read More

Fire & Fynbos
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Fire season is on hand, as has just been witnessed by the fires that have been raging across the peninsula from Signal Hill through to Fish Hoek. While these fires are devastating and place human life and property at risk, it must be remembered that the Fynbos vegetation needs regular burning for its persistence.   The smoke from these fires … Read More

Jewel of the Fynbos: De Hoop Nature Reserve
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Probably best known for the vast numbers of Southern Right Whales that come to calve and mate within its protected waters De Hoop Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area is considered one of the flagship nature reserves of CapeNature. From the tops of the expansive white dunes at Koppie Alleen and between the months of April and October, these whales … Read More

Last Remaining Colony of Cape Vultures within the Western Cape
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The only remaining colony of Cape Vultures in the Western Cape is situated in the Potberg Mountain of De Hoop Nature Reserve, where the colony roosts and nests in a deeply incised gorge. They have managed to climb back from an all time low of around 30 birds in the 1970s to between 175 – 200 birds at present. They … Read More

Pollination in the Fynbos
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Insects, birds and mammals are crucial pollinators of fynbos plants! Recent studies have shown that these plants will go to extreme lengths to attract the attention of pollinators and this is particularly apparent amongst the geophytes that bloom just after fire when pollinators are particularly scarce. It has been found that around 430 fynbos plant species are pollinated by birds … Read More

Flagship Species: The Black Harrier
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It is estimated that less than 100 Black Harriers are protected within formally conserved areas and that outside of these protected areas, the birds are reliant on remnant patches of natural vegetation, feeding in agricultural landscapes. As the worlds most range restricted continental harrier with an estimated global population of between 500 and 1000 breeding pairs, they are a southern … Read More

Endemic Bird Species Hot Spots
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  Falling within the heart of the globes smallest floral kingdom, the Cape Peninsula is host to 40 of South Africa’s 160 endemic bird species. The area is not known for its quantity of birds but rather its quality and although there are around 300 bird species having been recorded on the peninsula, the majority are waterbirds or seabirds that … Read More

The Cape Floristic Kingdom
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The Cape Floristic Kingdom (CFK) is located in the southern tip of South Africa and stretches from Niewoudville in the north across to Port Elizabeth in the east. Oceans bound it to the south and west and the arid Karoo to the north and east. It covers only 90 000 square kilometers, but contains the highest diversity of plant life … Read More