The Leopard Tortoise

It seems that people tend to name animals by their spots, if they have them; Leopard toad, Leopard tortoise …. A game ranger once related the tale of how he took some naïve tourists on a game drive and, on spotting a Leopard tortoise explained that it is so named because it drags its prey […]

Remarkable Raptor

Reportedly at least three African Harrier Hawks (Polyboroides typus – previously called Gymnogenes) have recently been shot in the Greater Hermanus urban area. Why would anyone perpetrate such senseless killings? I can only hope that it was through ignorance of the hunting habits of these birds and not through malicious bloodlust. Let me state it […]

Africa’s Little Bambi

Have you ever taken a hike in the beautiful Cape Fold Mountains and got the feeling that you are being watched? Well, you probably are. Just drag your eyes away from the splendid vistas and the overwhelming biodiversity of plants at your feet, and cast your eyes up to the rocky ledges above. If you […]

The Ostrich

We all know ostriches (Struthio camelus) and have no doubt all been gladdened at the sight of these impressive birds in their wild habitat. There is much about them that is fascinating – for example, did you know that ostriches are among the scant three percent of all birds in which the males have penises? […]

Autumn Beauties

During the hot, dry summer months of the Cape Floral Kingdom, we don’t see many spectacular flowers, although flowers there are indeed – mostly those whose small size reduces their heat stress. Geophytes (bulbous plants) are supremely adapted to these conditions – they simply lie low underground in a resting state – a bit like […]

Magic Moments

It is well known among conservationists that the best way to enthuse people about the environment is to give them a ‘magic moment’ experience in nature. Among the many attractions that Hermanus offers, there is always the possibility of an unexpected encounter with wildlife. We are charmed by garden Acraea butterflies and their spiky caterpillars, […]

Iconic Cape Woods

Photo: Stinkwood linen press c1860 – The Crown Collection Do you remember the masterly crafted wooden furniture that graced the homes of our parents and grandparents? Each piece was magnificent, created by craftsmen who understood and loved the special properties of the woods they used. These iconic pieces of late 19th century and early 20th […]

Why Do We Have Ticks At All?

My favourite little tuxedo cat died a year ago. I should have picked up that all was not well when he stopped saying “Woe!” whenever he came into the kitchen. By the time he stopped eating, it was too late to save him. ‘Little Black’ (his brother was ‘Big White’) died of Babesiosis – a […]

Wattle Bagworm

Anyone living and driving in the vicinity of Hermanus will have noticed the proliferation of Black Wattle (Acacia mearnsii) trees, especially in the Onrus River catchment at the entrance to the Hemel en Aarde Valley. Despite being a beautiful evergreen tree, they are definitely not welcome. They are nasty invasive water-sucking aliens from Australia. We […]

The Hadeda and the Parktown Prawn

When I moved to Hermanus some 25 years ago, I didn’t notice any Hadedas. They are hard not to notice. Of course, coming from Gauteng, we were all too aware of their raucous, onomatopoeic calling as they took off from or returned to their overnight roosts in trees. Hadeda ibis – eBird They were cursed […]