Cape Agulhas National Park Wildlife
Located on the southernmost tip of Africa where the Atlantic and the Indian oceans meet, the Cape Agulhas National Park has jagged landscapes, crashing waves, shipwrecks, a towering lighthouse and beautiful panoramic vistas.
What awaits you at South Africa's southernmost national park, the Cape Agulhas National Park
Stretching from Struisbaai in the east and almost to Pearly Beach in the west, the Cape Agulhas National Park covers 22 700 hectares and is 72 km (44.64 miles) long. Located at the most southern tip of Africa where the Atlantic and the Indian oceans meet, the park incorporates 45 km (28 miles) of sandy beach and 60 km (37.2 miles) of rocky shoreline.
History of the Cape Agulhas National Park
It has a human prehistory and history dating back more than an million years. Stone tools, stone fish traps and shell middens are all evidence of the predecessors that once roamed the shores of the area in search of shelter and food. Europeans arrived in the area in the early 1770s and by the 19th century the land had already been effectively utilised with many farms being established just inland from the shores.
The lighthouse was built in 1849 as a way to warn passing ships of the treacherous shoreline and the reserve, although much smaller at the time, was inaugurated in 1999 and has since been increased in size to its current parameters.
What Wildlife can I see in the Cape Agulhas National Park?
While the area has never been a big game area, Common Eland, Red Hartebeest and other nomadic species have definitely always roamed the area. Bontebok, Cape Grysbok, Steenbok and Grey Rhebok are all resident along the coastal plains area. It is also an important habitat for Honey Badger, Cape Clawless Otter and Caracal.
There is a breeding colony of Cape Fur Seals just 3 kilometres (1.86 miles) off of the shore on Geyser Rock and Fur Seals are commonly seen in the waves just offshore and occasionally on the mainland beach. Otter tracks are also occasionally seen on the beaches although the animals themselves are seldom seen. Southern Right Whales can be spotted off the coast between July and September and Dolphins are regularly viewed playing in the waves, especially in the more sheltered areas along the coast.
Dyer Island and Geyser Rock, though offshore are both included in the marine protected area and are important breeding locations for Kelp Gulls, African Penguins and a number of species of Cormorants.
Vegetation of the Cape Agulhas National Park
There are eleven distinct vegetation zones within the area; each sharing some plants but also having some that are unique to themselves. The plains are the largest storehouse of lowland heathland or fynbos and renosterveld, with around 2 000 species of plants being found here. A prominent and easy to spot plant is the Bot River Protea that is identified by its beautiful rich pinkish-red flower that blooms between April and July.
The National Park is working very hard to eradicate all alien plant species in the area and is currently removing Port Jackson willows and Rooikrans or Red Eye trees.