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.
It’s calmer on the False Bay side when the nor’westerly Atlantic swells push onto the coast; though the wave height may not be as high as along the western edge of the Cape Peninsula there is still power in the break. We watch with great anxiety for the otters and penguins as they exit the surging waters. Fortunately the Boulders’ penguin colony is sited in a sheltered sandy cove, with a defence of boulders breaking up the force of the water. Still these sturdy little creatures risk being tumbled in the surf. Once on land they head for shelter from the strong winds. Interesting to see the Cape cormorants happily hunkered down amongst the penguins. (Note the little penguin with the missing foot.)
Close by the Cape clawless otters (Aonyx capensis) maintain secret holts on land where they can hole up out of the rough seas. We’ve been fortunate to observe a pair which have returned to the area near our garden since the vegetation has regenerated after the devastating fires. Unlike the penguins’ sandy beach landing, the otters negotiate a rocky shore and often suffer from injuries. Pyjama shark is the catch of the day. If you’d like to read more details about the otters Wilf Nussey’s enthralling stories are here.
The welcome rain continues to bring relief to the parched veld and urban gardens. Within days new shoots are greening up and animals appear to be coping, if not revelling in the fresh rainwater. Though we have a long way to go before the strict water restrictions can be eased.
Interesting to note the animals’ fur ‘fluffled up’ to create thermoregulation which helps to insulate and retain body heat.
One tends to think of porcupine roaming in the wild but they are quite common here in the neighbourhood, though they not always welcome. For the keen gardener who prizes the display of flowering bulbs they can become pests. Being herbivores they are partial to a diet of juicy geophytes and digging up corms / bulbs is a nightly escapade.
The popular Cape Town cycle tour is to be held on Sunday (12 March) and as the participants and visitors arrive in preparation for the event the peninsula is abuzz. 35,000 cyclists are registered to take part. The lead up on the roads with the mix of cyclists, motorists, heavy vehicles, tour buses and wildlife sometimes result in dangerous situations. The stretch of road between Millers Point and to the top of the Smitswinkel rise has been particularly challenging especially with it’s blind rises and sharp bends. A couple of days ago, dodging cyclists and tour buses we came across this scene where a troop of baboons scattered across a section of road and motorists had pulled off to get a close-up viewing. Generally this troop’s movements are curtailed by appointed rangers, but this day they had given them the slip. What followed was inevitable, car windows were open and baboons being opportunistic went to investigate. A female baboon made off with a backpack, which fortunately she surrendered when chased. Luckier still is that the adult male baboon following behind did not challenge the man as he retrieved the bag. It’s doubly disappointing that careless motorists aren’t penalised or fined as this particular troop is being “conditioned” through the use of noise / pain deterence to prevent raiding behaviour. If motorists abided by the conservation laws and kept their car windows up and doors locked the baboons would have a better chance of not becoming raiders.