The Tygerberg Nature Reserve lies in the northern suburbs. Proclaimed in 1973, it supports one of the last remnants of the highly threatened Swartland Shale Renosterveld vegetation. Its 300 ha area boasts 429 different plant species. Of these, 12 are threatened with extinction, eight are endemic to Cape Town, and three endemic to Tygerberg itself. The diversity of species found here is vast, with some 21 different mammals, 131 bird species, 22 different reptiles, 7 types of frogs, and numerous different butterfly species.
On the western side of the mountain, the Plattekloof Dam is being restored to a natural wetland with the addition of indigenous water plants and fish. This will help to improve the water quality, and provide food, shelter and nesting material for animals.
The view from the top of the reserve’s hill is magnificent, and emphasises just how meagre the patches of natural vegetation are amid the urban sprawl. The hill is covered in renosterveld, and spotted with paler circles of grass in summer.
A SPOTTED TIGER?
From a distance, the blotches visible on the hills of the Western Cape reminded Dutch settlers of a leopard’s skin, and in 1657, the hills became known as Luipaerts Berghen (‘Leopard’s Mountain’). This was changed to Tijgerberghen (‘Tiger Mountain’) in 1661, and is now known as Tygerberg. These regular round patches are called ‘heuweltjies’ or small hills. Many scientists think that these hills are the remains of ancient termite nests. Harvester termites bring plant material into their burrows, and over time, they change the nature of the soil. As a result, the plants growing on the hills differ from those in the surrounding veld. Animals such as ant bears (‘aardvark’; Orycteropus afer), porcupines (Hystrix africaeaustralis) and bat-eared foxes (Otocyon megalotis) often make their burrows in these hills.
ADDRESS: Totius Way, Welgemoed
OPENING HOURS: Summer 07:30-18:00 (weekdays), 07:30-19:00 (weekends and public holidays); winter 07:30-17:00 (weekdays), 07:30-18:00 (weekends and public holidays)
SIZE: 300 ha
ENTRANCE FEE (2020): Adults R20.00; children (3-17 years), students and senior citizens R10.00; children under 3 years free (for annual permits, special rates and updates, visit www.capetown.gov.za/naturereserves)
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Taxi or bus
ACTIVITIES AND FACILITIES: Hiking, picnic sites, birdwatching, panoramic views
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: The Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre is a well-run, popular venue, and contains a resource centre with a library and a herbarium. Lessons on a variety of topics, including geography, town planning and ecology, are offered. Booking is essential.
FRIENDS GROUP: Join the Tygerberg Bird Club, the Friends of the Tygerberg Hills or CREW (Custodians of Rare and
Endangered Wildflowers) for lectures, hikes, birdwatching, rare plant surveys and alien plant hacks.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
CONTACT: Tel 021 444 8971
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.