The natural splendor of Cape Town extends beyond its breathtaking views into a realm abundant with wildlife of all kinds. For nature lovers, the city and its surrounds provide a unique range of experiences. Coastal dunes support specialised plant life that has evolved to sandy conditions, as well as a variety of insects and small reptiles, while wetlands and estuaries support waterbirds. Antelopes graze in the fynbos vegetation against the spectacular coastal backdrop of Cape Point, while the Cape Winelands, with its picturesque vineyards and estates, attracts an array of birdlife. So, let’s delve into the fascinating world of wildlife waiting to be spotted in and around Cape Town.
What Wildlife can be spotted in Cape Town?
Baboons can be seen in and around Cape Town, particularly on Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula. Baboons are not naturally hostile, but if they link humans with food, they can become brazen and potentially deadly. To minimise unwanted interactions, it is essential to avoid feeding them and safeguard food items. The Chacma baboon (Papio ursinus) is the most common species encountered. Chacma baboons are the southernmost baboon species, and they are well-known for their adaptation to different habitats, including coastal areas, highlands, and savannas. Chacma baboons are opportunistic hunters, capturing and eating small animals like birds, mice, and even newborn antelope.
The caracal, also known as the African lynx, is a medium-sized wild cat with tufted ears and a sleek, reddish-brown coat. Caracals can be found in a number of nature reserves, including those with savannas, woods, and mountainous terrain. They are adaptable to a wide range of conditions. Small to medium-sized mammals are the primary prey of caracals. Rodents, hares, and other tiny animals that are common in their habitats fall under this category. Caracals eat a lot of birds. Ground-dwelling birds like guinea fowl and francolins, as well as smaller bird species, may be targeted.
African Cape Clawless Otter
The Cape clawless otter is a semi-aquatic mammal distinguished by webbed feet and the absence of claws. They have a dark brown fur coat that is smooth. Otters are commonly found in freshwater environments such as rivers, lakes, and coastal locations. They are adept hunters and swimmers. The otter’s food primarily consists of fish, but they also consume crustaceans such as crabs and crayfish.
African Penguin also known as Jackass penguins due to their distinctive donkey-like braying, have made Boulders Beach their home. The breeding season for African penguins at Boulders Beach typically peaks from March to May. During this time, you may witness adorable scenes of penguin pairs engaging in courtship rituals and caring for their chicks. Visitors to Boulders Beach have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the penguins.
- Eland are the world’s largest antelope species. Their coat is tan to fawn in colour, and their horns are spiral-shaped and strongly ridged. They are adaptive creatures that can live in different habitats, including grasslands, forests, and semi-desert locations. They can be found in the Table Mountain National Park and Cape Winelands.
- Bontebok are medium-sized antelopes with characteristic reddish-brown to chestnut-colored coats and white face markings. They have horns that are formed like lyres and curl backward. Bontebok enjoy open grasslands, but can also be found in fynbos and on coastal plains.
- Grey rhebok are tiny to medium-sized antelopes with a characteristic grey-brown coat and long, straight horns. They like mountainous terrain and can frequently be seen at higher levels in the Cape mountains.
- Springbok are distinguished by their reddish-brown to tan coats with a white face and belly. They have a distinctive horizontal dark stripe on either side and both sexes have horns, although the rams’ (males) horns are thicker than the females.
- Steenbok are small antelopes with a russet coat and striking facial patterns, as well as straight, slender horns in the males. They are most commonly seen in savannas, grasslands, and open woodlands.
The dassie, also known as the rock hyrax (Procavia capensis), is a small mammal found in and around Cape Town. The dassie looks like a giant rodent but is not related. It has a stocky build, short legs, and a rounded, hairless face with small ears and tusks. Dassies have well-developed toe pads and damp, rubbery soles that are designed for traction on rocky areas. Dasies can be found in and around Cape Town on Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope, and several other rocky places along the coastline and highlands.
Birds of Prey
Raptors, often known as birds of prey, can be found in the Cape Town area, including African fish eagles, secretary birds, and hawks. Raptors are frequently found in grasslands, savannas, and coastal locations. African fish eagles are usually located near water sources, where they can hunt for fish.