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On the tragic morning of 26 February 1852 a disaster struck – which gave rise to the Birkenhead Drill “Woman and Children First”. Under the command of Captain Robert Salmond the Birkenhead Troopship left Portsmouth in January 1852, on route to East London South Africa. On-board an estimated 643 people of which 7 were women…

Between Vermont and Onrus a few African Clawless Otters have made a home. These animals are also known as the Cape Clawless Otter. They are nocturnal and have half webbed feet – hence the name clawless. Their biological name refers to this. Aonyx Capensis – aonyx means clawless and capensis? Capensis means belong to the…

The Cape fynbos is one of the wonders of the world. Although it is the smallest of the world’s six plant kingdoms by far, it is second because of its great diversity with 9000 different species in 90 000 square kilometres. 6190 of these species are exclusive to Cape Flora. To help put these figures…

The Southern Right Whales come to the shores of the Cape Whale Coast in about June each year to mate and calve in the shallow waters. Hermanus has gained the reputation of offering the best land-based whale watching in the world because of the excellent vantage points that the cliffs along Walker Bay provide. Many…

Scientific name – Cinnyris chalybeaCommon name – Lesser Double Collared Sunbird, Klein-rooibandsuikerbekkie (Roberts 783) Description Male: The head, throat and back is metallic green, with a small blue band separating the throat from the bright red breast. The tail is black, edged grey. Female: brownish grey above and yellowish grey below. Forages in bushes and…

The Cape has more than half of South Africa’s frog species. Of the 62 different frogs occurring here, 29 are endemic being found nowhere else on earth. Below are just some of the frogs occurring in fynbos. Frogs are found in a wide variety of habitats – from low-lying coastal areas, mountain tops, forests, desserts,…

The African black Oystercatcher is South Africa’s second rarest coastal breeding bird. The total population is less than 5 000 birds. Their glossy black plumage, bright red eyes, beak and legs, and plaintive call make them a distinctive and very appealing species. African black Oystercatchers occur along the coast and off-shore islands from Namibia to…

Fynbos cannot support herds of large mammals since the nutrient poor soils on which it grows do not provide enough nitrogen for the protein requirements of large mammals. However, smaller mammals common to fynbos are chacma baboons, klipspringers, grysbok, dassies, mongooses, and the striped mouse. Fynbos does not support high numbers of birds, but all…

Most of us are aware of and some of the readers may even be participants in the world wide pastime of bird watching – I am referring to birds of the feathered kind, of course! It is a fascinating, low-cost pursuit enjoyed by people of all ages and all walks of life. It brings people…

Like many of our Fynbos species, the Marsh Rose was described from a twig purchased from a flower seller in Adderly Street, Cape Town during the early 1800’s. As a cut flower, the Marsh Rose is esteemed for its exceptional lasting qualities in a vase: an inflorescence will keep perfectly for over a month. Consequently,…

Unlike the true fishes, sharks don’t have internal bone, but instead have a cartilaginous skeleton (Chondrichthyes). Carcharidon carcharius is one of the largest species of sharks. It has a conical, relatively short snout, long gill slits and a large dorsal fin. The second dorsal fin is small, and it has a big curved caudal fin….

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