The 36 ha Bracken Nature Reserve is a core botanical site located in the heart of the Brackenfell residential and industrial area. The hill overlooking Brackenfell from the reserve is called Kanonkop (‘Cannon Hill’), as in the 1700s, a cannon would signal from the hill to the farmers when ships were approaching. The farmers took this as their cue to bring their produce to the harbour. Between 1950 and 1970, a granite quarry was operating on the hill, and when it closed, the quarry was turned into a landfill site. An indigenous garden is being developed at the main entrance. Footpaths are designed to enhance visitors’ experience with breathtaking views and a vibrant birdlife.
The vegetation types conserved in this reserve consist mainly of Swartland Granite Renosterveld and Cape Flats Sand Fynbos. Both vegetation types are poorly conserved and severely threatened with species extinction. Bracken Nature Reserve has a rich and unique diversity of succulents, geophytes, orchids, mosses and lichens. More than 160 different indigenous plants have been listed, 10 of which are endemic to Cape Town and threatened with extinction. Important species include: Antimima aristulata, cowslip (Lachenalia aloides), canary yellow vygie (Lampranthus glaucus) and carrion flower (Orbea variegata). Plenty of small mammals live on the site, like the Cape dune mole rat (Bathyergus suillus), the small grey mongoose (Galerella pulverulenta) and a myriad of rodents. Birds like the black-shouldered kite (Elanus caeruleus), sacred ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), red-capped lark (Calandrella cinerea) and the greywinged francolin (Francolinus africanus) are frequently sighted in the reserve. Reptile species include the Cape dwarf chameleon (Bradypodion pumilum), the parrot-beaked tortoise (Homopus areolatus), the Cape skink (Trachylepis capensis) and the Cape cobra (Naja nivea). The reserve also supports amphibians like the Cape sand frog (Tomopterna delalandii) and the Vulnerable Cape rain frog (Breviceps gibbosus).
The former landfill is being rehabilitated with suitable soils from nearby sites, and planted with indigenous plants. Gas extraction pipes have to be laid down under the covered waste, to allow the potentially hazardous methane to escape as the waste decomposes. Habitat degradation, agriculture and urban sprawl remain constant threats to the reserve.
ADDRESS: 2 Reservoir Road, Brackenfell
OPENING HOURS: 07:30-16:00 (weekdays only)
SIZE: 36 ha
ENTRANCE FEE (2020): None
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Taxi
ACTIVITIES AND FACILITIES: Picnic areas, walking trails, birdwatching, wheelchair-friendly trail
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: Brackenfell Environmental Education Centre (booking essential)
FRIENDS GROUP: The Friends of Bracken and CREW (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers) arrange walks, birdwatching, plant surveys and alien clearing.
CONTACT: Tel 021 444 0380; fax 021 982 7135
PERDEKOP – A WORLD OF BIODIVERSITY IN ONE PRECIOUS PATCH
This jewel of 2,2 ha is a satellite site to Bracken Nature Reserve. It is well renowned among botanists and conservationists for its rich biodiversity and high number of endemic species. Perdekop is situated east of the Brackenfell suburb, adjoining Protea Village. More than 240 plant species have been recorded on the site, which conserves the severely threatened Swartland Granite Fynbos and Cape Flats Sand Fynbos. It is also home to the rare, protected shrub mountain dahlia, which had never been seen on the Cape Flats until City of Cape Town staff discovered it there in 2006. Also known as the orange nodding head (Liparia splendens), the plant is protected under the Western Cape Nature Conservation Laws Amendment Act, 2000. It grows to 2,5 m tall, with simple, oval leaves. The flowers are orange and densely clustered into round flower heads, which nod downwards at the end of the branches. Perdekop can be accessed from Kruin Street in Brackenfell upon prior arrangement, and the site also offers a short walking trail. Each year, Perdekop hosts a spring festival on the first Saturday of September. For more information, send an e-mail to Thea Weyers at email@example.com, or phone the management of Bracken Nature Reserve on 021 982 1323.
Source: City of Cape Town (2010) City of Cape Town nature reserves: A network of amazing biodiversity. City of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.
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