Monday, January 10, 2011

Wildlife at the Cape Peninsula

Most tours to Cape Town include a trip along the Cape Peninsula to reach Cape Point/Cape of Good Hope. Some travel literature continues to claim that here, the Indian & Atlantic Oceans meet - whilst in fact, that happens at the southern-most tip of Africa = Cape Agulhas (= more than 100km further east from the Cape of G.H.).

A look from the parking area at Cape Point towards the Cape of Good Hope - with 2 Eland males grazing peacefully. Our "visit" to this Nature Reserve today is "dedicated" to some of the wildlife found here instead of the scenic beauty, for which the Cape Peninsula is more famous.

A closer look at the 2 Eland males = the largest antelopes found in Africa. Although it has a heavy & humped appearance, the Eland is very agile - it can jump with ease over a 2m-high fence. Although the Eland are more commonly found in the drier parts of SA or in the mountainous Drakensberg region, they aren't restricted to certain vegetation. A water supply for this wild animal is also not essential, because it can obtain all the moisture it needs from what it eats.

Similarly Ostriches are associated with desert or semi-desert regions, but also easily adapt to other conditions - & it certainly isn't an uncommon sight to see this biggest & most fleet-footed bird in the world near the sea in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. It's a "distant relative" of New Zealand's kiwi, Australia's emu & South America's rhea.

Larger game like Mountain zebras & Bontebok also have a "home" in this Nature Reserve, whilst amongst the reptiles, tortoises are common as well various lizards - of which this Rock agama is a fine example. [Also SEE: Different Lizards & Different Chameleons on this blog, Friday, 31 & Monday 27 Dec 2010]

And then there are the baboons - hardly any visitor to the Cape Peninsula leaves without a sighting of these primates, who many inhabitants in this region have come to view as a pest. In contrast this male Chacma baboon appears to "think" he's the "King of the Castle" . . .

. . . or is that the "King of the Jungle"? This baboon male certainly looked as fierce as a lion!!?

Less fierce yet also with wide-open beaks, these African penguins (formerly known as Jackass penguins) are "suffering" as the result of a heat-wave, which often occurs at this time of the year around the Cape Peninsula, where at Boulders Beach, these otherwise island-based inhabitants have found a home.

In contrast to the hot weather, the water of the Atlantic Ocean is always cold, and near Houtbay on the Cape Peninsula, a colony of Cape Fur Seals are at home on a small, rocky island. The fur seal is also known as a sea-lion, but gets its more common name from the pelt (of the pups), which are coveted in the fur trade.

Talking about Houtbay - after a visit by boat to the seal colony, visitors are usually "welcomed" back to the harbour by these Kaapse Klopse [SEE: previous entry on this blog = below].

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