Die Oog Conservation Area

  Caitlin von Witt     2020-10-20

Die Oog is a small conservation area located on what was once a dam on Bergvliet Farm. The dam was built sometime between 1716 and 1764 as a link to the Spanschemat furrow. It was later converted into a recreational lake owned by the Eksteen family, who used it to entertain their guests. The Eksteens even introduced swans to the lake, and created an artificial island.

Bergvliet Farm originally occupied most of the Constantia Valley, but was repeatedly subdivided into smaller patches of land. In 1982, a small remnant was designated a zoned public open space and named Die Oog. The City of Cape Town and the Bergvliet and Meadowridge Ratepayers’ Association provided fences, benches and planted indigenous trees and shrubs, and the Friends of Die Oog Conservation Area were formed to help maintain and improve the site. The Friends group successfully secured funding for signage, wheelchair-friendly paths, a viewing platform, and improvement of the amenities. They have also initiated environmental education programmes, and are managing a website about Die Oog.

Die Oog is one of the few remaining breeding sites for the Endangered western leopard toad (Amietophrynus pantherinus), and the ‘roaring’ of the toads when they arrive in Die Oog in August to breed, is one of the true wonders of nature. The site has five different biodiverse areas: granite fynbos, which turns into a sea of colour in spring; the dam itself; the artificial island, which is a major roosting site for cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis), reed cormorant (Phalacrocorax africanus) and sacred ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus); a seasonal wetland below the dam wall that leads to the Keyser River; and sanctuary and recreational areas planted with silver trees (Leucadendron argenteum) and ericas.

At night, the island sometimes hosts over 1 000 birds, such as coots, dabchicks (also known as little grebe; Tachybaptus ruficollis), moorhens, yellow-billed ducks (Anas undulata) and Egyptian geese (Alopochen aegyptiacus). Black sparrowhawks (Accipiter melanoleucus) are fairly common, whilst the Cape weaver (Ploceus capensis), the hadeda ibis (Bostrychia hagedash), reed cormorant and the dikkop are all breeding residents.

The Cape clawless otter (Aonyx capensis), water mongoose (Atilax paludinosusis) and porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis) have also been observed, and besides the famous western leopard toad, the common clawed frog (platanna; Xenopus laevis) and the clicking stream frog (Strongylopus grayii) add to the amphibians of Die Oog.

Invasive alien species are the main challenge for the site. The growth of aquatic weeds has to be contained, and indigenous geophytes and other plants are being re-established. Common carp (Cyprinus carpio), which is an alien fish species, had also presented a problem, but have been removed, and attempts are being made to reintroduce the indigenous Cape galaxias (Galaxias zebratus) and Cape kurper (Sandelia capensis).

ADDRESS: Lakeview and Midwood Avenues, Bergvliet
OPENING HOURS: 07:00-19:00 daily
SIZE: 1,2 ha
ACTIVITIES:Walking, birdwatching and quiet recreation. (Dogs, sports games and swimming are not allowed.) Guided visits can be arranged through the Friends of Die Oog.
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: For school learner programmes, contact the Friends of Die Oog.
FRIENDS GROUP: Friends of Die Oog
CONTACT: City Parks Tel 021 762 9180 & Friends of Die Oog Tel/fax 021 715 8665
E-MAIL: mppearce@lantic.net (Friends of Die Oog)
WEBSITE: www.dieoog.org.za


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.