Cape Town’s West Coast forms part of the Cape Floristic Region, one of only 25 bio-diverse hot spots globally. This region is incredibly rich in flora and fauna and home to numerous endemic species. Human activities negatively influence ecosystem structures which can place biodiversity under pressure, so it is important to closely monitor these systems to ensure their survival into the future. That’s where our volunteers come in!
Our projects are based around studying both the indigenous and invasive species of the area in order to monitor, protect and restore some of the most beautiful and diverse ecosystems in the world. We work with several partners including World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Saldanha Bay Municipality, the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve, BirdLife South Africa, The West Coast Fossil Park and Khwa Ttu. Some of the projects you will be involved in include:
- Indigenous Fauna Camera Trapping – Many native mammal species are under pressure from habitat loss and other threats. We aim to monitor the abundance and population dynamics of species, such as the Duiker, Caracal and Bat-Eared Fox, to contribute to the implementation of conservation strategies in this region. We use remote-sensor camera traps in several different locations around the region to monitor species using a non-invasive method. These cameras allow us to observe the natural behaviour of these animals, as well as what happens after dark. Our volunteers help to position infra-red motion sensor cameras in the field which are checked and relocated regularly. This often involves going off the beaten track and looking for signs of animal activity such as tracks or scat. Volunteers will then analyse our findings, recording species and behavioural information.
- Fauna Surveys – We do a variety of inland fauna surveys including game counts, bird surveys and reptile surveys. These surveys complement our camera trapping in monitoring and gathering information about the diverse array of animals found in the area. Depending on the site and the target animals we will drive, walk or sit and observe, identify and record information on species, location and behaviour. This provides vital information about the health of these ecosystems and their inhabitants. We are currently surveying in some beautiful locations including Oranjevlei, a WWF owned property of 190ha that contains a large portion of the remaining Saldanha Limestone Strandveld vegetation of the West Coast.
These surveys are a great opportunity to observe animals such as Springbok, canaries and angulate tortoises up-close and take some fantastic photos.
- Indigenous and Invasive Vegetation Project – Volunteers will be involved in hands-on data collection in a variety of habitats including the highly threatened Strandveld and Renosterveld vegetation of the Cape West Coast. A special focus is also placed on the beautiful wildflower habitats of this region, where we conduct surveys in collaboration with the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve. Currently, there is little known about the restoration options for these valuable habitats. Our aim is to gain insight to develop sustainable strategies for their protection and restoration. Volunteers will also be involved in assessing the impact of invasive plant species and will assist our partners in reducing their impact through clearing, monitoring and the application of biological controls. Vegetation assessments involve identifying the species present in an area to better understand the composition and structure of these habitats.
- Bat Project – CTRCI is working with the Saldanha Bay Municipality who are interested in encouraging bats onto local farmland through the use of bat houses. The idea is part of an initiative to reduce the amount of pesticide being used on crops. Pesticide use can be detrimental to our environment, polluting waterways and poisoning non-target species. The native bat species are insectivorous and will hopefully make a meal of the insects that can cause damage to crops, reducing the need for pesticides. Volunteers will be involved in the initial surveys of the area, identifying the pests present, as well monitoring the effect that the bats may have on insect populations.