It rained on New Year’s eve here in Cape Town and we awoke at dawn on the morning of the 1st to the gentle patter of raindrops still falling. Now five days later it’s back to parched earth and the dam level aggregate has dropped to 29.1%. We are worried; very worried. The City Council warns that Day Zero could happen as early as 18 March – that is when the taps will be switched off and citizens will have to queue for water at designated collection points.
Meanwhile the summer season is in full swing; beaches, scenic sights, vineyards, restaurants are all buzzing with festivities and happy visitors. At times residents feel overwhelmed and scuttle off to the lesser known spots. Or get up early to beat the queues to the beach or nature parks.
This past week the mornings have been sweetly scented and cool and as we’ve set out to hike or cycle through our favourite nature reserve we’ve tended to see animals on the move, generally moving through an area foraging. Recent sightings of five different baboon troops highlight how their behaviour changes when their territory overlaps with the park’s recreational areas or how the attractants in town, like the refuse bins lure them off the mountain. For most of the year the baboons forage on natural vegetation or in the rock pools. Come summer and the picnic spots draw them like bees to a honeypot.
Below the Buffels troop check out the barbecue area for scraps.
In contrast the baboons in the photos (below) of the Kanonkop troop like to forage in natural vegetation.
Chacma baboon picking sourfigs.
The fruit of the sourfig is high in vitamin C
Seaching for sourfigs.
Baby rides jockey style.
A favourite scene – juveniles with a baby picking the berries from Rhus crenata.
Sister is playing nursemaid and keeping an eye on baby while mum forages.
So intent on eating his meal of Leucodendron cones.
Chacma baboons in restio field.
There’s always time for a bit of rough and tumble.
On the Atlantic side of the Peninsula, another troop – probably the Olifantsbos troop dash across the beach in a strong breeze to get to the rock pools to forage for mussels and other shellfish delicacies.
Beach scene when the wind was blowing.
Heading to the rock pools.
The dash across the beach.
The sand was stinging that day.
The Smitswinkel troop are generally kept off the road by the conservation rangers, but this season we’ve found them on the road several times – a hazardous situation for both baboons and motorists.
Smitswinkel troop on the road.
Every piece of plastic is a target for inspection by the baboons.
The contents of a refuse bag.
Baboons from the Waterfall troop sometimes make excursions into town to raid the rubbish bins –
Bin raid in Simons Town
Bread has a high calorie reward for a baboon.
Street bins are not locked and the lids easily knocked off.
There’s a good reason for motorists to pay attention to the warning signs which dot the roadside along the Cape Peninsula’s scenic drive: Beware the baboons – keep car doors locked and car windows closed!
The message here is if we paid a little more attention to disposing rubbish responsibly, stopped littering in conservation areas and secured refuse bins carefully wildlife such as the Cape’s Chacma baboons would be less inclined to raid bins for leftover food. Foraging in the wilds for roots and shoots is far healthier and natural food choice rather than the detritus left by humans.
“Stats” haven’t really been too much of a motivation for me, that is until this past week when my site unexpectedly started ‘pinging’. Topics relating to the Cape Storm got great press pushing up the visitor numbers to an all time high. Then came a further boost with a shout out from Ben Huberman on Discover: Editor’s picks.
I feel quite overwhelmed by the response and would like to post a hearty welcome to all the new followers.
To Ben and the WordPress team, i send a big thank you and a gift of virtual flowers – protea repens. The birds love them for their rich sugary nectar and are also known as the sugarbush protea.
This week, the worst storm in thirty years hit Cape Town and the Western Province wreaking havoc on the peninsula and inland. How crazy to go from drought conditions to flooding; with snow on the inland mountains and fires down the coast in the Knysna area. Galeforce winds gusting up to 100km/hour, uprooted trees, damaged roofs and houses. The shack dwellers in the informal settlements were hardest hit and nine deaths have been reported.
During a lull between advancing squall lines and the torrential rain we managed to get out to check the surrounding area and to the Good Hope Nature reserve to see how the animals were faring. The wind gusts were ferocious and most animals were hunkered down or had found shelter out of the wind. A most unusual scene was a Cape Mountain zebra galloping along a beach to get to the lee of the land.
Opportunistic baboons were out foraging mostly taking advantage of the moist soil to dig for corms/bulbs while the Plateau Road troop appeared to be finding grubs in an area where there were old wood piles.
The wild sea conditions were truly a sight to behold, the breaking waves on the Atlantic side came thundering through with such powerful thrust that huge banks of sea foam built up way above the tide line. We’ve been warned that not much rain fell in the catchment areas and the dam levels remain critically low.