Post Fire Scenes at Cape of Good Hope

Returning home after some weeks away, the first order of the day is catching up on local events and life round the neighbourhood.  These scenes at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, are of the area impacted by a ravaging fire in early March and are so devastatingly familiar.   This is an area where we often cycle and part of the cycle track goes right through the middle of this desolation and we’re gripped both by a sense of loss and awe.  That the fynbos vegetation which forms part of this extraordinary Cape Floral Kingdom, is sustained and flourishes in such nutrient poor soil is remarkable.  Stripped of the green foliage, the revealed soil looks much like beach sand (from quartzite).  Parts look like wastelands, but in some areas green shoots  are already appearing attracting browsers like buck and zebra.  The geophytes, such as the red Candelabra lilies (Brunsvigia orientalis) are flowering profusely and against the burned vegetation look quite stunning.  With climate change affecting local weather patterns, predictions for Cape Town are that total rainfall will decrease by between 10% – 30% over the next 50 years.  Fire frequency and intensity will undoubtedly increase, putting post fire vegetation reseeding under further pressure. We’re hoping this year that the seasonal rainfall over the winter months will break the current drought cycle.

22 thoughts on “Post Fire Scenes at Cape of Good Hope

  1. Beautiful captures Liz, but oh, so sad that the Cape has suffered yet another blow. I feel for the animals there and really hope you get the rains needed this year. How is it going with the water shortage?

    1. Thanks for the commiseration Jude. Miraculously it looks as though Day Zero has been averted for the time being. Praying for the winter rains; we’re restricted to 50l per person per day and it’s tough going. Fortunately we have rainharvested tank water to supplement the daily allowance. City is preparing alternate sources – drilling into the aquifers and setting up desalination plants. Would you believe thieves have stolen valuable equipment and materials which have set back the roll out dates!

  2. Fire in the Canadian Rockies leaves terrible devastation, and yet new life soon thrives in its wake. I fear that your land is far more fragile in its ability to recover. And even our mountains are not safe from the effects of climate change.

    1. Many thanks for your comments, Jo Ann. That aspect and the power of nature’s regeneration is quite marvellous. Those forest fires where the loss of mature trees are involved must be devastating but thankfully as per your comment new life thrives. I’ve been reading about climate change where glacier melt is radically changing the course of rivers …. and altering the landscape. Yes sadly the Cape Floral Kingdom is a hotspot for losing species, and the too frequent fires are not helping.

  3. One can hardly ‘like’ this (although I have!) for the devastation caused by fires is awful to witness – yet, some plants need fire to thrive, as strange as that may seem. I cannot help comparing it to the desert-like conditions in the Kruger National Park during the severe drought there and the lushness of that veld after rain. Rain is the key to our future – we too have stringent water restrictions that make one take note of the preciousness of rain.

  4. The stories you tell through words and pictures are so compelling. Ash is one of the best fertilizers, so hopefully you will get that break in the drought, so the rain can wash all those nutrients into the poor soil and the vegetation can come back stronger than before. Hopefully, we, as humankind, can find some ways to reverse the damage we’ve done so places like this won’t suffer like the predictions say! Thanks for sharing this message!

  5. Oh, terrible, terrible. And then people stealing the equipment as well. May the rain come to you – I would gladly send some of our downpours, but sadly this is all climate change. We are soon into April, but it keeps snowing. When the sun warms up for an hour or two, some hedgehogs and other animals believe it will be spring – we don’t know if they can fall asleep again. If not – they are lost.

    1. Isn’t it all so scary A-C! We’re seeing change and the unforeseen impacts effecting nature like the creatures being caught by unseasonal changes. That climate change is happening and with such destructive impact across the globe make ecosystems and the ecology all so vulnerable.

  6. So sad to see the devastation there, Liz! While the animals do seem to survive and the fynbos will recover, it will depend on the amount of rain Cape Town gets this winter …

    1. It is sad particularly that the plants were flourishing, looking so good this last flowering season. It covers a huge swathe of land too. Praying for rain! To add to the worry of a continuing drought are the too frequent fires. The fynbos species recovery are dependent on how frequent the fires are to regrow and reset seeds before the next cycle – 12 – 15 years optimum.

  7. Despite the apparent destruction, what a wonderful opportunity now to study and document the resilience of the fynbos of the Cape of Good Hope, on the assumption of course that the rains falls as they ought to in order for that process to run its natural course.

    1. So true, Dries. The opportunity for finding the fire-flowering species particularly will be exciting. The timing now coming to the rainy season bodes well too. So interesting to see the baboons foraging – digging to find corms and bulbs and it’s amazing that they’re successful. Guessing that they have a memory for where certain stands of plants grow. In these scenes they were making their way to the beach and the tidal pools. Canny creatures supplementing their diet with marine options.

    1. It is a forlorn scene – especially as little zebra is on his own and no longer part of a family group. From his markings he is the male foal, now young adult having to fend for himself. But take heart Gilly – there is hope as already new green shoots are sprouting and zebra will range through to the unravaged bush areas for better grazing.

    1. True, and with climate change added to other threats the Cape Floral Kingdom is seriously vulnerable. more than1400 fynbos plant species are featured in the Red Data Book. Scary stuff.

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