WPC: Tour Guide – Let’s find the penguins

Playing tour guide, my first stop is this vantage point overlooking the splendid vista of False Bay.  Simon’s Town lays at the foothills, and way in the distance on the opposite side is Cape Hangklip.  The small town bustles with a distinct naval ‘air’ having been established as a naval base by the British in 1799 and where today the SA Navy is stationed.  We’ll pass through it, as we’re on our way to visit Boulders to see the African penguin colony.

The Boulders area is dotted with impressively sculpted granite rocks sheltering discreetly placed sandy coves.  Here a colony of African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) have found a comfortable nesting area.   From just two breeding pairs in 1982 the population numbers have increased to about 2200 in recent years.

We will venture down the boardwalk to see the main nursery.

As you will note the houses are quite nearby – this is as close to an ‘urban’ colony as can be imagined.  The area is fenced off, but often the penguins stray beyond the boundaries and care must be taken driving or parking to check if all is clear.

Sadly the African penguin is listed in the Red Data Book as an endangered species, and the birds are in considerably more trouble than rhinos.   With the decline in shoal fish such as pilchards and anchovy they could be heading for extinction in the not too distant future.

To end the tour, a nod to the eminent granite Rock Stars, all of 540 million year old. A pathway follows along the coast for a nice leisurely stroll and swim to top off the experience.

WPC: Tour Guide

Cape Grysbok

Cape_Grysbok_Raphicerus_melanotis

It’s almost a year since a devastating fire rushed down this section of the mountain in a destructive path.  The vegetation is recovering well and how wonderful it is to see this shy and timid species of endemic buck, the Grysbok on this rainy, drizzly-wet morning.   All the more remarkable is that it is so close to the suburban edge.  They are solitary animals, except during the mating season when they are found in pairs and here we see that this is a female (the male bears horns).    This is one of the smaller species of antelope – it weighs in between 9 – 12 kgs.  Residents in this area have occasional sightings and these close encounters leave the viewer with a sense of awe for these secretive little creatures.

A retrospective journey

I reached a milestone just the other day – five years of blogging!  Although initially i was a reluctant blogger and got off to a slow start i’m now hooked by the WordPress community spirit.

Thank you to my fellow bloggers who’ve followed, commented, liked, engaged in topics and made it all worthwhile. I enjoy the connection to this virtual world where i can pop over to the far corners of the globe, discover all manner of information; get involved in ‘conversations’ and be inspired so that my bucket list of destinations grows ever longer.

Those who follow my posts will know that my interest is documenting the activity on the urban edge, the overlap between humans and wildlife.

My story really started with Fred and this is the shot which kicked it off –

Baboon_Fred_takes_charge

It was during the summer season of 2008 that Fred, the alpha-male of the Smitswinkel baboon troop came to the attention of residents and motorists in the area for his emboldened raiding of houses and cars.  He was to become quite an urban legend and even has an entry in Wikipedia.

This scene is a classic “Fred” shot  but one which is overlaid with much pathos.   While we laugh at the situation, it smacks of a sense of  failed ‘conservation awareness’.   Why would baboons want to raid cars, what was the attractant?   Was this learned behaviour and who are the real culprits in these scenarios?

Hope you’ll watch out for further posts as i dig through the archives on my”Retrospective Journey”.

 

 

Cape Vulture: Mr Bones

 

Meet Mr Bones, a juvenile Cape griffon or Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) who resides at Radical Raptors, a rehabilitation center close to Plettenberg Bay.  He came out to be fed in a magnificent display of ruffled feathers,loudly cackling and hissing; all the while adopting a submissive posture.

It’s a rare privilege to get so close to a bird of this nature; out in the wilds they are less approachable, unless studied while scavenging on dead carcasses. The species is endemic to southern Africa but their population is sadly declining and listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN.

Generally they nest on cliff faces and rely on the rising air currents for uplift preferring to ride the thermals than to fly short distances as pictured here.  Note how he battles to get above the height of the grass.

The center is a non-profit organisation playing an important role in educating the public, and with the aim of releasing the rehabilitated birds back to the wilds.

Kill poaching

A lot of press is being given to the question – “Have we reached the tipping point for the survival of the remaining rhino population?” I’m reblogging Wilf Nussey’s hard-hitting article on taking a tough stance on poaching. If you too feel strongly, please re-blog this article ….