5 reasons to visit De Hoop NR

by CapeNature

Located on the southern Cape coast, De Hoop is one of CapeNature’s flagship reserves, and is famous for its variety of wildlife, vegetation (including a host of endemic fynbos).  In this article, we highlight five reasons why you simply must visit this fascinating and beautiful reserve.

1) Cape Vultures

More than 260 bird species have been recorded at De Hoop but arguably the most well known is the only remaining breeding colony of Cape Vultures in the Western Cape which is found high in the Potberg Mountains on the reserve.

The Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) is the most important avian threatened species on the reserve. The Potberg colony is unique in that it is the only colony within the winter-rainfall region and the only colony still in existence within the Western Cape Province. The number of birds at Potberg is currently increasing. Active banding of Cape Vulture nestlings was re-established in 1999 and is currently undertaken on an annual basis.

2) Rock pools

The almost 50-km long marine protected area (MPA) of De Hoop is known for its countless rock pools, sheltered bays and endless sandy beaches. The incredible shoreline stretches to the world famous Koppie Alleen, which has the best wave-cut platforms for rock pooling of any reserve.

Make sure to take a walk along the shore at low tide when the sand underfoot is firm and the coastal limestone formations are clear to see. The limestone platforms are usually covered in muscles, barnacles and reef worms, and if you stay long enough, you’ll be able to watch the rare and endangered African black oystercatchers feed on the rocks.

3) Marine Protected Area (MPA)

The De Hoop MPA is an area of the coastline that has been protected by law, limiting or prohibiting consumptive use within the designated boundaries of the area. In short, this means that fishing, and other exploitation of the marine resources is kept to a minimum, or in some cases prohibited entirely.

De Hoop Nature Reserve - Western Cape - South Africa

The benefits of this are clear to see – from ensuring the protection of threatened and vulnerable species resident in the area, to allowing the fish species to breed without being overexploited, which has a knock-on effect on the surrounding ocean area.

4) Animal sanctuary

De Hoop supports a diversity of animal groups. The reserve has 86 mammal species, most notably the rare bontebok and Cape mountain zebra, as well as eland, grey rhebuck, baboon, yellow mongoose, caracal and the occasional leopard.

Cape Mountain Zebra, CapeNature, Scott Ramsay

5) Penguin colony

Birdlife South Africa and CapeNature are working together to create a new penguin colony at De Hoop. In the mid-2000s, African Penguins naturally attempted to establish a colony at the very eastern edge of the reserve but unfortunately, before they could be adequately protected, predation by a leopard caused them to abandon the site. This natural colonisation attempt, supplemented with evidence that there are adequate food resources in the area provided some of the impetus to choose this site.

After a lengthy engagement with penguin and predator experts, including conducting a risk assessment, CapeNature approved BirdLife South Africa’s proposal and management plan for the colony in August 2018. Since then, preparations have started at the site to protect it from predators by putting up a fence and attempting to establish the colony by using passive attraction techniques. These attempt to convince penguins that that there are already birds breeding at the site, using call playback and decoys (model penguins) to help simulate an existing colony. If the passive attraction techniques prove to be unsuccessful after a year, then the process of physically translocating penguins will begin.

African Penguin

De Hoop is one of the largest natural areas managed by CapeNature and this beautiful reserve is a favourite for hikers, cyclists, and bird and whale watchers. So the next time you’re planning to explore the Western Cape Province be sure to stop by the reserve which is just three hours from Cape Town, in the Overberg region.

If you’d like to overnight in the reserve, please visit http://www.dehoopcollection.com for accommodation options.

 

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