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August 2011 057

Pringle Bay and the Kogelberg Biosphere in Overberg

Pringle Bay is situated in the Kogelberg Biosphere. A Biosphere is a specific type of landscape designated by UNESCO and accommodates both the natural environment and communities. The Kogelberg Biosphere is the only reserve in South Africa to be proclaimed by UNESCO. It is run according to internationally accepted principles of a biosphere reserve, where a core sensitive area of 18 000 hectares remains wild and pristine, maintaining a high level of biological diversity. The Koegelberg Nature Reserve consists of 100 000 hectare, running along the costal area from Gordon’s Bay to Kleinmond, and is filled with generous mountain peaks, craggy kloofs and valleys. The Kogelberg is known as the “heart of fynbos” and it is home to an incredible 1712 different plant species (of which 150 are endemic), making it one of the world’s riches sites of plant diversity. There are also several animal species like leopard, caracal, baboon, variety of small antelope, birds, fish and smaller creatures. The mountain landscape offers some of the most spectacular sceneries in the Western Cape. The region’s complex system of folded mountains is better illustrated than anywhere else. The Hangklip Mountain (c.800metres ASL) occurs at the western extremity of False Bay and a hike takes a couple of hours. There are several hiking trails in the Koegelberg. During winter white water kayaking is permitted on the Palmiet River. Do not miss a visit to the beautiful Harold Porter Botanical Garden nestled between the mountains and the sea only 5 minutes drive from Pringle Bay (in Betty’s Bay). Go for a walk or hike and discover the beauty of the landscape and plants.

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South Africa's Unique Fynbos

Fynbos, or the Cape Floral Kingdom, is the smallest of the world’s six plant kingdoms only covering 0,4% of the earth’s surface. According to its size it is the most species-rich plant kingdom, boasting 8600 species, of which 68% occur nowhere else in the world! The two main habitats of fynbos are mountains and lowlands (coast). Fynbos is the common name for the fine leafed, thick, shrub-like vegetation which occurs in the winter rainfall area of Western Cape. There are three main plant types: ericas, restios and proteas. There are also a variety of bulbous and tuberous plants, legumes, buchu’s, renostebos, slangbos and everlastings that form part of the fynbos. Although the fynbos appear lush and green it is quick to burn. Fires are therefore restricted to designated safe sites. The biggest threats to fynbos are veld fires, alien vegetation and injudicious harvesting and development.

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Animal Life in Kogelberg Biospere

Baboon_finding_seedsBaboon_eatingPringle Bay has its own Chacma Baboons. The baboons are frequently seen all over town, in the surrounding mountains, roads and occasionally on the beach. Do not feed them under any circumstances - the best approach is to observe without interfering in any way! The Southern Right Whale frequents the coast along Western Cape waters between June and November and can be viewed with ease from land. There are several favorite areas and the Clarence Drive Road (R44) will most likely offer sightings of both whale and dolphin pods. The Cape coast is a natural habitat of Abalone, know in South Africa as 'Perlemoen'. Perlemoen is protected and cannot be harvested and the fines for illegal harvesting are high. In Kleinmond there is a herd of Wild Horses. You can view a big variety of birds in Pringle Bay and surrounding areas. Sunbird, sugar bird, gulls, cormorants, Egyptian Geese, Little Egrets, Cape Wagtails, swallows, Cape Bulbul, Rameron Pigeon, Speckled mouse-bird, Grass bird, Black Eagles, Martial Eagles, Black Sparrow Hawks, Jackal Buzzard, Steppe Buzzard, Black Shouldered Kites, White Fronted Plover, Terns, penguins and African oystercatcher are just some birds you might sight. Oyster_catcherThe African Black Oystercatcher is a large wader and is a resident breeder on the rocky coasts and islands of southern Africa. It is a large and noisy plover-like bird, with jet black plumage, pinkish/red legs and a strong broad dagger-like red bill which it uses for smashing or prying open mussels. The eyes and eye rings are red. The African Oystercatcher is listed as an endangered bird with a population of less than 5,000 adults. The Jackass Penguins (African Penguin) can be viewed in Betty's Bay at one of the few land based penguin colonies in continental Africa. It can live for 17-23 years and mate for life, eat Pilchards and Anchovies and drink the salt water since their salt glands above their eyes are able to extract highly concentrated salt from their blood. They breathe above water but can dive up to 130 meters deep and hold their breath up to 150 seconds. Once every year the penguins molt (they completely lose and replace all the feathers), lasting 4-5 weeks. During this time they stay on land since it is difficult for them to maintain their body temperature in the water. The penguins can be found by following sign posts from the R44 in Betty's Bay. The Cape Clawless Otter is also present in the Pringle Bay area.


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