Tygerberg Nature Reserve lies in the northern suburbs of Cape Town. Proclaimed as a Local Authority Nature Reserve in 1973, it supports one of the last remnants of the critically endangered Swartland shale renosterveld vegetation type. The reserve covers an area of 309 hectares and boasts 562 different plant species. Of these, 23 are threatened, eight are endemic to Cape Town, and three endemic to Tygerberg itself.
The diversity of species found here is vast, with some 24 different mammal species, 137 bird species, 22 different reptiles, 7 types of frogs, and numerous different butterfly species. The view from the top of the reserve’s hill is magnificent, with a 360 degree view of the City and emphasises just how meagre the patches of natural vegetation are amid the urban sprawl. The eastern slope of the reserve consists of old ploughed fields that are in the process of being restored, while the Western slope is close to pristine Swartland shale renosterveld.
A spotted tiger?
From a distance, the blotches visible on the hills of the Western Cape reminded Dutch settlers of a leopard’s skin, and in 1657, the hills became known as Luipaerts Berghen (‘Leopard’s Mountain’). This was changed to Tijgerberghen (‘Tiger Mountain’) in 1661, and is now known as Tygerberg. These regular round patches are called ‘heuweltjies’ or small hills and are most noticeable during summer. Many scientists think that these hills are the remains of ancient termite nests. Harvester termites bring plant material into their burrows, and over time, they change the nature of the soil. As a result, the plants growing on the hills differ from those in the surrounding veld (see photo).
Key information - Tygerberg Nature Reserve
||Main gate: Totius Way, Welgemoed Map directions|
Secondary gate: Meyboom Avenue, Plattekloof (GPS coordinates: S22.214.171.124 E18.35.00.87)
||07:30-18:00 (weekdays), 07:30-19:00 (weekends & public holidays except Christmas Day/Good Friday)|
(Jul 2014-Jun 2015)
|- Adults (18+) R13, Children (aged 3-17), students and senior citizens R6,50 (proof required), Children under 3 free entry|
- Learner/student groups: R5,50 per learner (pre-booked; discounts may apply)
- 'Friend' of this reserve: free entry (proof of Friends group membership required)
- Season Ticket (annual): Adults (18+) R120, Family R185 (parents & any 4 children up to 17 years), Senior citizens R62 (60+ years). The season ticket provides unlimited entry into the following nature reserves for 365 days from date of issue: Helderberg (excl. vehicle fee), Tygerberg, Table Bay (Rietvlei: excl. vehicle fee), False Bay (Rondevlei) and Blaauwberg (excl. vehicle fee) Nature Reserves. The ticket includes access outside official opening hours only where permitted
||Taxi or bus|
|Activities and facilities
||Nature appreciation, hiking, trail running, birdwatching, picnic sites, panoramic views|
The Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre is a popular well-run venue and contains a resource centre with a library and a herbarium. Lessons on a variety of topics are offered, including geography, town planning and ecology. The hall is also available for hire. Booking is essential on Tel 021 444 9263
||Tel 021 444 8971; Fax 086 201 2916|
|- Friends of the Tygerberg Hills www.tygerberghills.co.za, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tygerberg Bird Club www.tygerberg-bird-club.yolasite.com, E-mail: email@example.com
- Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wild Flowers (CREW) for lectures, hikes, birdwatching, rare plant surveys and alien plant hacks. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image gallery (click on image to enlarge)
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