Encountering Wild Cats when Hiking in Cape Town
Adapt or die is the way of the world and nowhere is it more evident than in the hills close to Cape Town, where wild species have learned to adapt their ways in order to fit in with changing circumstances.
This adds yet another attraction for those who love hiking in Cape Town and close by.
Spotted in the Piketberg
In recent years, leopards have been making an appearance in the Piketberg mountains near Saldanha Bay, just over 100 km from Cape Town. Researchers know little about this elusive member of the Big Five, where they came from, or just how many roam this area.
Now, thanks to the efforts of the Cape Leopard Trust, leopards have made an appearance on screen at 58 out of 63 camera trap locations scattered over 1 500 square kilometres. Other sought-after species seen in the area include aardvark, yellow mongoose, and bat-eared foxes.
Cape Town’s Urban Caracals
Meanwhile, in Table Mountain National Park, caracals play a starring role at camera traps placed strategically in the natural surroundings.
Urban caracal Hermes is the star attraction on Table Mountain, along with several other named caracals that regularly appear on screen and in the sights of hikers in out-of-the-way places, like Cape Point’s hiking trails.
Hermes first made his presence known as the victim of a road accident. After a stint at the Tamboerskloof Veterinary clinic, this urban caracal was back on track, much to the delight of regular hikers in the area.
Hermes is easily identified by his light blue and green ear tags as well as his hop along gait due to one leg being shorter than the other. He’s quite used to two-legged intruders in his domain and non-aggressive.
Keeping Up With the Cats
The Urban Caracal Project’s camera and tracking studies have revealed interesting insights about caracals, especially regarding territorial squabbles which can sometimes result in tragedy for the weaker animal. As if life on an urban mountain wasn’t difficult enough, autopsies have also revealed that rat poison plays a major role in the demise of caracals in this urban area.
Although the Urban Caracal Project’s findings present some threats to the caracals of Cape Town, it’s allowed concerned residents to find alternatives for controlling unwanted rodents, like prophylactics, and mechanical controls.
Likewise, the studies have sparked public interest in these cats and a renewed urge to conserve them.
How to Go Hiking in Cape Town With the Cats
You, too, can enjoy these once-in-a-lifetime feline sightings on hikes and walks in these scenic areas while visiting the Western Cape or hiking in Cape Town.
Like these cats, you might need to adapt to ongoing challenges if you want to feed your wanderlust.
As time goes by, safety measures for travellers have improved and increased to ensure you can still travel safely. At first, these measures may seem restrictive and time consuming but they’re a sign of changing times.
So, book your Cape Town hiking vacation, get past the restrictions, and keep your eyes on the prize rather than focussing on the red tape.
With an experienced southern African travel expert by your side, you’ll negotiate these challenges without a hitch.