June to September is Whale Watching time in the area. Do not be surprised to see lots of cars suddenly stopping at a viewing point off Clarence Drive to watch a Southern Right Whale that just has given birth to her calf. This is an experience that people pay thousands for, yet it is right on our doorstep. The whole coastline up to Hermanus has proven to be an ideal spotting area for this experience during these months.
Pringle Bay and its immediate surroundings (Rooi Els, Betty’s Bay and also Kleinmond) are located in a Biosphere reserve. It is a specific type of landscape designated by UNESCO and benefits and accommodates both the natural environment and communities. The Kogelberg Biosphere reserve compasses the entire area from Gordon’s Bay to the Bot River Statuary and inland to Grabouw and the Groenland Mountain.
The Kogelberg is also known as the ‘heart of the fynbos’ and is home to an incredible 1712 different plant species, making it one of the world’s richest sites of plant diversity. There are also an incredible amount of animal species like leopard, caracal, and baboon (Pringle Bay has its own friendly troop that visits and destroys), a small variety of antelope and a large variety of birds.
The area aims to support the conservation of all plants and natural features in the biosphere reserve and the Kogelberg Biospheres Reserve Company was established here to enhance opportunities for employment, tourism and any developments that are to the advantage of local communities. They also support indigenous gardens and environmentally friendly homes for a healthy and sound environment of residents.
For more information please visit www.capenature.co.za.
Only 12km away the Harold Porter Botanical Garden is home to a wide variety of Fynbos such as the King Protea and Disa and the nearby town of Betty’s Bay hosts the Jackass Penguin Colony. A one hour drive from Cape Town with Hermanus, Stellenbosch and the Wine Route 45 minutes away – Pringle Bay is an ideal destination for nature lovers and a perfect base from which to explore the rich and diverse landscape of the Western Cape.
Tel: 028 272 9311
Fax: 028 272 9333
An abundance of activities and hiking trails in the area gives the nature lover a great day out. Swim, surfing and kiteboarding can be done at the numerous safe swimming beaches.
Guided tours: Klem Dunstan on 083 298 0654 or 028 271 366
Permits are available at Kogelberg Nature Reserve at the Oudebosch office tel: 028 271 5138 or visit www.capenature.co.za
Kayaking, Kloofing and White Water Rafting on the Palmiet River
The 9-hole golf course at Kleinmond
The 18-hole golf course at Arabella Country Estate outside Kleinmond.
The area’s seashore, wetlands and mountains are home to a great variety of birds. You will find Black Oystercatchers on the rocks and beach of Pringle Bay, Black Eagles nesting high up Hangklip Mountain, a variety of swallows, swifts, Egyptian Geese and King Fishers near the Palmiet River by Kleinmond. The Harold Porter National Botanical Garden near Betty’s Bay is home to a variety of birds including the famous Cape Sugarbird.
The African Black Oystercatcher is southern Africa’s second rarest coastal breeding bird. The total population is less than 5 000 birds. The Oystercatcher’s glossy black plumage, bright red eyes, beak and legs, and plaintive piping call make them a distinctive and very appealing species. These birds occur along the coast and off-shore islands from Namibia to the Easter Cape. They are usually found on sandy or rocky shores and are often seen on the rocky shores of Rooi Els and the sandy beach of Pringle Bay. They almost always occur in pairs or small groups. The breeding season is from September to March. Usually, two eggs are laid, of a greenish or buff stony colour with dark brown spots, which provides an effective camouflage against predators. The name Oystercatcher is misleading as they feed mainly on mussels, limpets, whelks, crustaceans and various worms, rarely if ever taking oysters!
Oystercatchers are very sensitive to disturbance by beachgoers, fishermen, dogs and vehicles. They are also threatened by coastal developments with destroying their habitat. Breeding adults are easily stressed and they may even desert their nests if they are disturbed too often. The disturbance may create an opportunity for kelp gulls to pray on eggs or chicks. Try not to step on the well-camouflaged nests, eggs and chicks.
In the Cape Peninsula, especially Rooi Els and Pringle Bay, baboons are a major attraction, amusing tourists with their roadside antics. Unfortunately, because people feed them, these baboons have lost their fear of humans and may become aggressive in pursuit of food offered (or not) by visitors. In the interest of public safety, aggressive individual baboons are culled, which in turn disturbs the social structure and behaviour of the troop.
Rooi Els and Pringle Bay have their own troops that live in the area and have become very accustomed to homeowners’ rubbish bins as an easy target to find food. These animals are very intelligent and many residents can tell you stories of how they just walked into your house to get a bunch of grapes that they could see through the window. Most homes in the area are ‘baboon proofed’ by special bars of electric fencing that keep even the smallest baby baboon out. Although these baboons look very tame, it is always advisable not to approach or feed them. They are wild animals and we are living in their territory, not the other way around.
Baboons are wild animals and should be treated with caution. Please follow the guidelines for your own safety and to help protect the future of baboons:
- View the baboons from the safety of your car
- Keep windows and doors closed
- Do not feed baboons
- Do not entice baboons into your car
- Do not approach troops of baboons on foot
More information is available at Baboon Matters Trust, see the website link below.
Photo credit Ursula Van Tonder