A popular tourist, the Garden Route National Park is home to a profuse array of mammals, birds, reptiles and marine animals and is a magical destination to explore for all nature lovers and bird watchers.
The Garden Route National Park is home to some 85 species of mammals with the most well-known of these being the Elephant. Visitors to the area can spend time with the Elephants at the Knysna Elephant Park. It was estimated in the 1880s that there were once between 400 - 600 Elephants roaming freely through the Knysna Forests but today these numbers have diminished, possibly to as low as 10 or less.
The forests are home to Bushbuck as well as Blue Duikers while Common Eland can be found on the slopes in the east of the nature reserve, and Common Duiker are sometimes seen in areas with clearing between thickets along the coast. Savanna Baboons and Vervet Monkeys are found throughout the region and have been known to be a menace at times. One of the most commonly seen mammals in the area, especially at Storms River Mouth is Rock Hyrax or Dassies.
The Garden Route National Park is one of the best locations for Whale watching, with no fewer than 15 species of Whales and Dolphins being found in the area. Plettenberg Bay is considered one of the best locations for watching Humpback Dolphins and Indian Ocean Bottle-nosed Dolphins and Long-beaked Common Dolphins are regularly seen all along the coastline. Southern Right Whales also make a seasonal visit between May and December to give birth to their young in the sheltered bays all along the coast.
There are 371 species of birds found in the nature reserve area of which 45 are vagrants and are not seen often. Some of these species include 15 species of Duck and Goose; Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Shovler and African Black Ducks to name a few. A rare resident is the African (black) Oystercatcher. In the Wilderness area the Langvlei and Rondevlei lakes are considered the best areas for bird-watching and there is an observation hide on the north bank of each location.
22 species of raptors have been counted here and special ones to lookout for include African Cuckoohawk and Crowned Eagle. The area is also an excellent location for spotting the Forest Buzzard and many visitors head into the forest and along its fringes in search of birds such as the Red-necked Spurfowl and the Tambourine Dove. Two of the most sought-after species are the relatively easily heard and sometimes seen, KnysnaTuraco and the Narina Trogon.
The nature reserve is home to 25 different snake species including Cape Cobras, while the most common snake in the area is the large and venomous Puff Adder. In the estuaries and fresh waters of the area one will find at least 26 different species of Fish and the Knysna Seahorse inhabits the Knysna Estuary. There are also a number of Shark and Shark-like species in the waters around the area including Great White Sharks, Spotted Ragged-Tooth Sharks and the rare and largest of the species, Whale Sharks.