Wildlife of the Western Cape

Wildlife of the Western CapeWildlife of the Western CapeWildlife of the Western CapeWildlife of the Western CapeWildlife of the Western Cape
Wildlife of the Western CapeWildlife of the Western CapeWildlife of the Western CapeWildlife of the Western CapeWildlife of the Western Cape

Although Cape Town and the Western Cape are probably not the best places to experience a safari (Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces are better known for that), it is possible to have an encounter with South Africa’s big game not far from the Mother City.

Aquila Private Game Reserve

Located in the arid Little Karoo, the four-star Aquila Private Game Reserve enjoys year-round sunshine, making it ideally suited to game viewing. Several safari options cater for even the most demanding travel itinerary:

  • Day game drive safari – morning and evening in open 4x4 vehicles with rangers
  • Day horseback or quad-bike safari – two hours
  • Day combo safari
  • Standard overnight safari
  • Fly-in safari (one day)
  • Fly-in safari (two days)

Fairy Glen

The closest Big Five, malaria-free safari venue to Cape Town is Fairy Glen, an hour’s drive from Cape Town. This private game reserve is set amid indigenous fynbos vegetation, and offers visitors game drives, bush safaris and the opportunity to view Khoisan rock art.

Complementing the famous Big Five at Fairy Glen are blue wildebeest, giraffe, eland, zebra, lynx, oryx and the endangered bontebok. Smaller species include klipspringer, nyala, rhebok, steenbok and a variety of African birds species like the endangered Verreaux’s eagle (also sometimes known as the black eagle or “aquila”, after its scientific name, Aquila verreauxii.

Game drives, nature walks and horseback safaris take guests closer to resident wildlife and a provide a memorable African bush experience. Meals are included in basic game safari charges. Overnight guests may choose between standard and luxury accommodation in combination with game drives. Children aged 5-12 are catered for at half price.

Inverdoorn Game Reserve

The four-star Inverdoorn Game Reserve is set at the gateway to the Karoo, a vast expanse of arid South African landscape in the hinterland.

Inverdoorn’s air-conditioned bungalows come with mini-bars and private terraces, while thatched guesthouses are better suited to families. Inverdoorn also offers a shop, quad bikes, a golf range, pool, internet access, television, visits to rock art sites, conference facilities and a helicopter pad.

Drakenstein Lion Park

At Drakenstein Lion Park visitors are afforded the once-in-a-lifetime experience of sleeping among the lions! The park provides lifetime care to captive-born lions and takes in lions in distress.

The park lies half-an-hour from Cape Town and is open daily from 9h30-17h00, but is closed on Christmas Day. Admission is R45 for adults and R25 for children. Group rates are available on request for pre-booked groups.

Lions generally spend a great deal of time sleeping. However, they do become quite active at feeding times on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 16h00. After spending time with Africa’s largest felines, you may feel the urge to help these beautiful creatures. With this idea in mind, Drakenstein Lion Park will gladly accept donations that contribute towards a portion of the care costs for your adopted lion. Each adoptive “parent” is acknowledged on the information board at the park and on the park website. Adoption fees are R1000 (approximately: $US135, €95, £85), renewable annually. A once-off donation allows you to adopt a lion for the rest of its life.

Clara Anna Fontein

Clara Anna Fontein private game reserve and country lodge stakes its unique claim as the only game reserve within the greater Cape metropolitan area.

This 20ha private game reserve in the Durbanville wine valley is 30 minutes away from Cape Town. It’s home to some of the Western Cape’s last remaining indigenous renosterveld vegetation, where zebra, bontebok, wildebeest, eland, ostrich, blue wildebeest, springbok, African wild cat and grey rhebok are found.

Game drives depart at 10h00 and end with a brunch in the bush deli.

You could opt to spend a few nights in one of the reserve’s 18 luxury tents in the camp and watch the game grazing a stone’s throw from your “front door”. All tents have en-suite bathrooms too! Four country cottages or eco-cottages with spectacular views over the dam and vineyards are provided for those who prefer more sturdy accommodation. The venue is also perfect for corporate functions, conferences and team-building activities.

Table Mountain National Park

Table Mountain National Park in South Africa’s south-western corner takes its name from the iconic Table Mountain, backdrop to the city of Cape Town.

Table Mountain National Park hosts 4-million visitors every year and stretches from Signal Hill in the north to Cape Point in the south. It operates as an open-access park and conservation fees are only payable at Cape Point, the penguin colony at Boulders and Silvermine.

The park’s Cape of Good Hope/Cape Point region is home to a variety of pelagic birds, zebra and eland, reptiles, baboons and smaller mammals. The marine biodiversity on each coastline is distinctive and governed by the difference in temperature between the warmer Indian Ocean and colder Atlantic Ocean.

Cape Point offers visitors a choice of quaint bays, beaches, hills and valleys to explore. For a bird’s eye view, take the funicular railway to the top of the point and walk to the lookout point. There are many hiking trails around the point where a host of bird species and flora thrive.

Giraffe House Wildlife Awareness Centre

Stellenbosch’s famous Giraffe House Wildlife Awareness Centre is home not only to giraffe, but also offers shelter to more than 50 other African fauna species, providing visitors with instant access to a variety of wildlife and bird species.

Privately-owned Giraffe House is an ideal venue for outdoor family outings, during which children and adults are educated about indigenous animals and the importance of protecting them. School groups and guided tours are catered for by prior arrangement.

Top 10 Wildlife wonders in the Western Cape

A major highlight on any trip to the Western Cape is seeing the southern right and humpback whales. Whale season runs from May to early November.

The beautiful beach at Boulders is famous not only for its turquoise tidal pools and giant granite boulders, but for its colony of more than 3000 African penguins.

The Western Cape is renowned for sightings of great white sharks, particularly in areas like Gansbaai and False Bay, where the past-time of cage diving with sharks has become extremely popular.

A land mass located off False Bay known as Seal Island is home to a huge number of Cape fur seals and a wealth of bird life. Because of the dense population of seals, Seal Island also attracts predators - most notably great white sharks.

About 100 metres offshore from Lambert’s Bay is Bird Island - one of only 6 sites world-wide where Cape Gannets breed. It is also the only breeding site easily accessible to the public.

In 2010, the Karoo National Park introduced 8 lions to the reserve, which is also home to various species of antelope, around 20 pairs of black eagle and 5 different tortoises (the highest density of species per equivalent area in the world) as well as Cape mountain zebra.

Rugged mountainous terrain covering 71 000 hectares, The Cederberg Wilderness Area is renowned for the spectacular landscapes and rocky outcrops. The local mammal population includes leopard, baboon, grey rehbok, dassie, duiker and honey badger.

This nature reserve is situated across 14 kilometres of coastline, covering 2 500 hectares in total. View Southern right whales and dolphins and sight land creatures such as grysbok, bushbuck, bushpig. Goukamma has more than 220 species of birds.

At De Hoop you’ll find the rare bontebok, eland, baboon and occasional leopard. Marine mammals such as seals, dolphins, and southern right whales are plentiful. In fact, this is a favoured spot for whales to give birth to their calves.

Situated in Plettenberg Bay this eco-tourism sanctuary is the world’s first multi-species free-roaming sanctuary. All the monkeys have been born in captivity and now leap around this large indigenous forest.

  1. Whale Watching
  2. Boulders Beach
  3. Great White Sharks
  4. Seal Island
  5. Bird Island Nature Reserve
  6. Karoo National Park
  7. Cederberg Wilderness Area
  8. Goukamma Nature and Marina Reserve
  9. De Hoop Nature Reserve
  10. Monkey Land

The protection and conservation of our wildlife is critical and various organisations are involved in the production of our flora and fauna :


WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) is a truly South African non-government organisation (NGO) with a proud history in our country. For 85 years WESSA has proactively engaged with the challenges and opportunities presented by South Africa’s unique natural heritage and the social and economic systems that depend on it. As a membership-based organisation we have sought to “promote public participation in caring for the Earth” and to build capacity for conservation and sustainable development in a broad cross-section of South African society.

WESSA works to ensure environmental sustainability for current and future South African generations. We focus on the sustainable and equitable management of our natural resource base by building society’s environmental sensitivity and competence by calling to, and working with, communities and individuals to move from current to more sustainable action. Our mission to promote public participation in caring for the Earth is expressed in the diverse and dynamic collaborative partnerships that WESSA creates to enable its work. Working within the vital sectors of water, biodiversity, energy and waste, WESSA is a preferred project implementer nationally, regionally and internationally.

Cape Nature

Cape Nature is actively involved in the conservation of our flora and fauna :

Wildlife – globally and in the Western Cape – continues to be threatened by the erosion of natural habitat through various forms of development; conflict with human populations; exploitation for commercial gain; sport and recreation (such as hunting), and many others.

The effective conservation of wildlife in the Western Cape is therefore a vital part of the overall strategy to protect its rich natural heritage. The Wildlife Management Programme is informed by CapeNature’s overall strategic approach, and places particular emphasis on integrating ecological and socioeconomic objectives, supported by an approach of co-operative governance. It is designed to draw all key stakeholders into the process of managing the Western Cape’s wildlife resources on a sustainable basis.


The Conservation Services Department provides SANParks with the services needed to manage national parks for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Enabling Legislation: The Protected Areas Act

The Protected Areas Act No. 57 of 2003 gives SANParks its legal mandate.

What are the important provisions of the Protected Areas Act?

  • The Protected Areas Act establishes that the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are important objectives to be achieved in national parks.
  • The Protected Areas Act promotes participation by stakeholders in the planning of national parks. In accordance with the Act SANParks will consult with affected parties in drawing up plans for national parks.

What is biodiversity? In the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Acts biodiversity is defined as “the variability from among all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part and also includes the diversity within species, between species and ecosystems.”

Wildlife of the Western CapeWildlife of the Western CapeWildlife of the Western CapeWildlife of the Western Cape