Tygerberg Nature Reserve

Tygerberg Nature Reserve

Tygerberg Nature Reserve - Southern Africa : To document the fauna, flora and fungi of this reserve Tygerberg Nature Reserve is on the Tygerberg Hills in the City of Cape Town's northern suburb. It was proclaimed in 1973 and currently is about 390ha in size. The reserve is not only the largest p

To document the fauna, flora and fungi of this reserve

Tygerberg Nature Reserve is on the Tygerberg Hills in the City of Cape Town's northern suburb. It was proclaimed in 1973 and currently is about 390ha in size. The reserve is not only the largest piece of Swartland Shale Renosterveld conserved - and, in fact, remaining - but is also an important water catchment area, ecological corridor for animals, and a “green lung” for the City of Cape Town. There was an old cannon at the top of the hill which dated to the 1700s: for a while it was fired on some public holidays and special occasions.

Tygerberg Nature Reserve supports one of the last large remnants of Critically Endangered Swartland Shale Renosterveld - which used to extend from here to beyond Piketberg. It is not surprising therefore that it contains 23 are threatened Red List plant species, 8 endemic (found nowhere else on earth) to Cape Town, and 3 endemic to Tygerberg
itself.

Some 562 plant species, 137 bird, 24 mammal, 22 reptile and 7 frog species, are recorded from the reserve. Butterflies feature prominently too, with 27 species (2 extinct taxa from the reserve's vicinity).

The eastern slopes are old ploughed fields, that were mismanaged (bushcut) for Rain Diasies in the 1980s, and are in the process of being restored to Renosterveld.
The western slope comprises near-pristine Swartland Shale Renosterveld.

The view from the top of the hill is magnificent and gives visitors a 360° view of Cape Town, and especially Table Bay and Table Mountain and - in winter - the snows of the Hottentots Holland to the east as far north as Groot Winterhoek. It also emphasises just how extensive the urban sprawl of Cape Town is and how little flats vegetation has been preserved. Historically the Swartveld to the north supported huge herds of game (Eland, Hartebeest, Zebra), and in the last few thousand years large herds of Khoi Cattle. The Fynbos to the south was waterlogged in winter, and the old road to the interior skirted it on the edge of the Swartveld at Haardekraaltjie (the end of the first day's travel from Cape Town by wagon) just to the south.

The park hosts the Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre with its library and resource centre. This is a popular venue for school excursions and education programmes.

The name Tygerberg (“Tiger Mountain”) derives from the appearance of the hills as a dark silhouette with pale spots resembling a Leopard. The pale spots occur on “heuweltjies” in summer. These heuweltjies are termitaria, which - in this area - are covered by annual grasses in spring; these turn turn straw-coloured during the dry summers whereas the Renosterbush between them remains dull grey (or 'black' - hence Swartveld or Swartland). The name Tygerberg is therefore apt, and refers to Leopards, which used to occur here, and not Tigers as many people believe! Interestingly, the hills were known as Luipaerts Berghen (‘Leopard’s Mountain’), but became Tijgerberghen (‘Tiger Mountain’) in the 1660s. Many farmers still call Leopards "tier" after the "tyger" used by early Dutch settlers for the Leopard.

Disturbed areas are dominated by Klaaslouwbos and Hairy Hookleaf Pea.
In spring the vegetation changes from a dull grey colour to show off its abundance of incredible annual flowers such as Daisies, Suurings and the numerous bulb such as Bloodroots, Viooltjies, Capestars and Kalkoentjies.
The natural shrub component is dominated by Renosterbush, Wild Rosemary, Everlastings and Wild Olive.

Mammals include the Cape Fox, Honey Badger and Striped Weasel.

Trails:
Dogs are not allowed. There is a wheelchair trail. A map is available at the Welgemoed entrance.
There are many trails through the reserve, ranging from short to traversing the entire reserve. All the trails are well marked.
There are two main entrances: Plattekloof and Welgemoed.

Golden Mole: 3.6 km
Ukhetshe: 3.2 km
Watsonia: 2.7 km

Duiker: 1.6 km
Grey Rhebok: 1.4 km
Tortoise: 1.3 km
Induli: 1.0 km

Caracal: 800 m
Striped Weasel: 700 m
Peregrine: 600 m
Honey Badger: 450 m
Wheelchair: 500 m
Wild Olive: 200 m

Sources and links:
http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/EnvironmentalResourceManagement/Pages/NatureReserve-Tygerberg.aspx
http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/EnvironmentalResourceManagement/Documents/Integrated_Reserve_Mngt_Plans_FINAL/Tygerberg_IRMP_Jun2011v02_Final.pdf (Integrated Management Plan 2011)

Apparently this site is out of date: http://www.tygerberghills.co.za/reserve_info.php

13 Jan 2016
Tony Rebelo