The Fauna of the Baviaanskloof

The Baviaanskloof is an area of natural abundance, which only contributes further to its somewhat-mysterious beauty and appeal. Situated deep within the province of the Eastern Cape, the Baviaanskloof boasts a floral diversity all its own. Naturally, this provides the ideal habitat for an impressive array of animal species, which range from reptiles and insects to mammalian predators and beautiful birds.

A massive 23 of the 56 reptile species in the Baviaanskloof are endemic to this country, with three species being found only in this specific region. There are also several amphibian and fish species to be found here. The tent tortoise can be found here and is endemic to the Cape region. There are also terrapins and leopard tortoises in the Baviaanskloof. Four of the 24 identified snake species here are endemic to this country. The Cape cobra and the puff adder present the most danger to campers, hikers and walkers, but are shy and prefer to be left alone.

Amongst the mammals, there is a fabulous array of fauna. Sadly, in centuries past, animals like the black rhino, elephant and lion were hunted to extinction, but the rhino was reintroduced in recent years. In addition, mammals of the Baviaanskloof include many antelope species; such as the buffalo (usually more active in the dense greenery of the valley slopes during the night), red hartebeest (common on the high grassy plains and on the mountains), eland, grysbok, grey rhebok, duiker, mountain reedbuck and bushbuck. There are also Cape Mountain zebra to be found grazing the plains, as well as bushpig, aardvark, the Cape clawless otter, and the aardwolf. In the lower-lying plains and valleys, kudu and the Cape grysbok can also be found. Some species, like the zebra and reedbuck, manage to traverse large areas of the landscape as they roam around and graze peacefully.

There are also predators here, including the caracal and the elusive leopard, which remains a shy animal that avoids human contact as much as possible. For this reason, it is very exciting when one is spotted, and visitors are urged to keep their eyes peeled for these exquisite hunters.

The Baviaanskloof area is famous for its baboons (from where the name actually comes). These Chacma baboons are present in abundance, and can often be heard calling to and seen interacting with one another. Visitors are requested not to feed the baboons, as this leads to their becoming tame and causing problems, both in terms of their own safety and that of the local residents and tourists.

The avian species of the Baviaanskloof number around 300; promising an impressive display for bird-lovers from around the world. Raptors include the crowned eagle, sparrowhawk, and martial eagle. Fish eagles, the African finfoot, herons and kingfishers can be spotted around the rivers and streams that wind through the mountainscapes, while the more densely vegetated areas are home to exciting species like the Knysna loerie, red-chested cuckoo, olive woodpecker, Rameron pigeon and the Klaas’ cuckoo. The paradise flycatcher, brown-hooded kingfisher, red-billed wood hoopoe, and six different species of weaver visit the area when the local trees produce the sweet fruits that these birds love. The plains boast Cape rockjumpers, sugarbirds, orange-throated longclaws, and Greyling falcons, amongst others, while the more arid areas are the habitat of choice for goshawks, Namaqua doves, and black-breasted snake eagles. Threatened species that can be found in and around the Baviaanskloof are the Stanley’s bustard, African marsh harrier, blue crane, protea canary, black stork and peregrine falcon.

Those with a passion for nature are invited to experience the untouched splendour and variety of the magnificent Baviaanskloof.