Zandvlei Trust



On the 16/06/2005, before the Arbour Day planting at the Westlake Wetlands Garden, those present saw for the first time the spoor of a Grysbok at the pond below the pathway.

photograph by Una Hartley

A  Grysbok                                Grysbok footprint the dark indent in the middle.
(Raphicerus melanotis) 

photograph by Una Hartley

Grysbok footprint indented in the soft mud, a closer view.



photograph by Nigel Dennis

Caracal or Rooikat (Caracal caracal) Seen for the first time in January 2009, on a night count in the Nature Reserve area.



On the evening of 30/10/2003 Clifford Dorse, added a new mammal to the Nature Reserve mammal list. This was in the form of a Cape Fox!

photograph by Stephan Wolfart

Clifford says "maybe they (the only true fox in Southern Africa) are on the way to adapting to the urban environment like their close European relative? We can only hope!"


Cape Hare (Lepus capensis)

photograph by Clifford Dorse

Cape Hare being reintroduced onto Park Island in Sept 2004.

photograph by Clifford Dorse

Before release.

This could have been one of the offspring from the hares released.
It was found in May 2006, not long dead as it was still soft. 
The preceeding 2 days had been very cold and wet. 
There were large pools of water on Park Island that day.



On 12/03/2015 - An exciting Brants Climbing Mouse (Dendromus mesomelas) a first record for the Zandvlei Nature Reserve was recorded on a night count by the Reserve staff reported by Dalton Gibbs.
They are they make their nest in old disused birds nests. There is an old record from more than 40 years ago at the nearby Rondevlei Nature Reserve.                                                        updated 09/04/2015.

photograph by Dalton Gibbs.                                                       photograph by Dalton Gibbs.

Brants Climbing Mouse 01.                                      Brants Climbing Mouse 02.

photograph by Dalton Gibbs.

Brants Climbing Mouse 03.


On 13/12/2008 - Bowen Boshier found these 2 blind mice, Four Striped Mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio), at Grysbok Park.

photograph by Bowen Boshier

The squealing pups.                                         An adult.


Moles and Mole Rats

photograph by Greg Morgan

Cape Dune Mole Rat (Bathyergus suillus) They often are seen running around above ground in mid winter during or soon after heavy rains. Many due to the ground being water logged.


Una Hartley's observations and photographs of this mole's activiities at the Zandvlei Nature Reserve, in the so called "designated Road Reserve" just off Henley Road.

photograph by Una Hartley 

Common (African) Mole Rat ( Cryptomys hottentotus)

This unusal occurrence of the mole coming out of its burrow and digging up the roots of grass (kukuyu) in the compacted gravel roadway and then returning with a mouthful of roots to the burrow. This was repeated numerous times and was recorded at 14h00 in cloudy weather, with imminent rain.

photograph by Una Hartley

A number of motor cars had passed over the site a few minutes before, and within 1 meter of the burrow entrance in the thick kukuyu grass on the verge of the road.
The mole seemed detemined to fetch the material for the burrow, with a few other people standing around the mole watching its activities. It was unpreturbed by their presence. The area already cleared was about 2 long x 1 wide (metre) before we arrived.

photograph by Una Hartley

The duration of the observation was about 10 –15 minutes, before we had to get on with the task of the afternoon, of removing the alien (exotic) vegetation from the Nature Reserve.



22/07/2011 - John Fowkes reports  We recently had a confrontation between a Water Mongoose (Atilax paludinosus) and a Helmeted Guineafowl on our lawn in Lakeside.

photograph by John Fowkes

The Water Mongoose trying to go about its business quietly, but no such luck with a very noisy
Helmeted Guineafowl in attendance.

photograph by John Fowkes

They faced off and then the Mongoose walked away.
The vessel in the background is a lead wood mekoro, a beautifully hand crafted vessel.



Cape Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis)


04/05/2016 - Angus and Frances Hemp report "We saw 3 otters swimming past our jetty off Zee Close in the Marina and think they were two adults and a juvenile. Seen at about 9am". updated 07/05/2016.


11/09/2013 - Yvonne Bulgen reports "When out paddling with my dog on the canoe in Zandvlei recently, 2 otters popped their heads out of the water and appeared to be playing a game with my dog, a large Alsatian. They seem to like to interact with dogs, as this is not the first time I have had encounters with the otters. It has happened before when walking the dogs early in the morning along the banks of the vlei".


17/07/2013 - Yvonne Bulgen reports "Only heard this story last week - why it was never shared before with the community is baffling…

Last winter an otter made his home for 3 days in a house in Uxbridge Road. The owner, Ian, has high security fencing and is a dog owner (the dogs sleep inside). For two previous evenings could not understand why is his dogs were so agitated and on the third evening carefully walked outside with his gun (is a law enforcement officer) and torch.

To his surprise, he saw a large male Cape Clawless Otter swimming his his pool! He called over to his neighbour, who when he popped his head over Ian’s wall was shocked to see the same otter scaling the wall between their properties, going over Trevor’s wall & rapidly waddling down Uxbridge Road to the vlei!


21/06/2012 - Kim from Scenic South reports One of the Zandvlei Otter pups had to be euthenaised after being run over by a motor car.
See the link;–-lakeside-otter-another-casualty/ 


2012 Nicola Okes is doing a research project (UCT) on Cape Clawless Otters of the Cape Peninsula. She needs your sightings, photographs, observations and possible interactions with any otters in your area. The project will last for 3 years.
See her blog to contact her with any information you may have

A family group of father, mother and juvenile.

The family group looking for breakfast.

Youngster with its mother. 

photograph by Cassy Sheasby

24/12/2010 - Cassy Sheasby reports "We released this juvenile Cape Clawless Otter in the Central Pan of the Reserve today. It was found in the Henley Road area.

09 Sept 2009 - Peter Slingsby reports "While walking my dogs at 5 pm, behind the reeds off the point where the scout base is, I spotted an animal in the water. I thought at first it was a dog - but it turned out to be an otter (of the Cape Clawless kind). My son saw one in a similar place more than ten years ago, but it's the first I've seen there. Have you had any other reports"?
Robin Burnett replies "I haven't seen otters at that spot - only at the railway river bridge. I have occasionally seen a Little Bittern in the reeds where Peter saw the otter".


photograph by Greg Sneddon

This young Cape Clawless Otter was found in the Westlake River in the Kirstenhof area in December 2007. It was sighted a number of times away from the river in peoples gardens, and eventually the SPCA were called and it was taken to the Grassy Park dept.

Please call (Zandvlei Nature Reserve) on 021 701 7542 if you find any animal away from its natural habitat.


Cape Clawless Otters on Uitsig Peninsula again...

At last I grabbed my camera and took a picture of an otter in my garden. I am forwarding it nevertheless, because they are around so often, and I am always talking about it. Although recently, I have stopped doing so because I thought that the non - production of proof would lead people to think I was imagining it.

photogrpagh by Lucia Rodgrues

Cape Clawless Otter in Lucia's garden

This morning I saw Cherry Giljam on Park Island and she told me her story of 6 otters in her garden.
It seems from her account that the youngsters of a previous season hang around and they form a family group. Today at 18h00 this mister, I am sure it's a male, was sitting quite comfortably in my garden, rolling and rubbing himself. I eventually got my camera and through vertical blinds zoomed in through glass, so that I can remind myself that I am not dreaming. I realise no one has ever said I must be dreaming. It's just that these wonderful animals have this, here now and gone the next minute quality, that always leaves me wondering, did I dream this?
And this is the first time I have seen one in DAYLIGHT!!!!  Life at the Marina is quite wonderful!!

Lucia Rodrigues.

PS: I have a theory, which I chatted to Cherry about, from reports of sightings, it seems the otters favour gardens that have large dogs. I think that if otters do tend to show themselves more in gardens with big dogs, could it be that they are always trying to stamp their authority on the garden?
They are always defecating and rolling around as though they want to overwhelm the area with their scent.

Cape Clawless Otters on Uitsig Peninsula

photograph by Anthony van Zyl

Cape Clawless Otters

Lucia Rodrigues reports "On Wednesday morning 23rd May 2007 very early, before dawn, I was rudely awakened by my barking dogs, who sleep inside at night. By their frantic tone, I knew the otters had returned to my garden, as they are wont to do at this time of year.

Opening a window and peering into the gloomy darkness, I spotted several shapes rollicking and rolling about in my garden. I counted five otters, two smaller than the rest. This time though, their behaviour was different. Normally the hiss, whistle and snap at each other playfully, rolling about and standing up on their hind legs from time to time to sniff the air and look around.

This morning however two of the larger otters seemed to be fighting, grunting and yeowling, rolling into the water, leaping back out again. Their calls reverberated across the water and woke some of my neighbours. After a few minutes they grew silent, seemed to disperse, but not for long before the whole performance started up again. The fighting seemed quite ferocious and I feared it would not stop until one was badly injured. But after about 20 minutes they seemed to have settled their differences and magically slipped silently away.

I am always left with a feeling of having dreamt it all. Such commotion one minute and all gone the next. Still not sure what it was all about, but imagine it could have been a territorial fight?"

Cape Clawless Otter 

An observation at Zandvlei

 At about 21h00, on Wednesday the 20th August 2003, a strange call drew me outside. It was a very still and cold evening. I walked out onto my patio that is raised about two feet off the lawn. My German Shepherd seemed agitated and she indicated that there was something in the garden. With the patio light on, I saw what I first took to be four large cats, bounding towards me from around the corner of my house. I immediately saw I was mistaken, because clearly they were otters!
All four were the same size and they seemed to be in high spirits, confident but cautious and not overly concerned by our presence. I shut my dog away immediately and continued to stand on the edge of my patio, watching the otters.

They kept on bouncing up onto their hind legs, loudly sniffing the air and then lying flat on the lawn wriggling on their bellies and rubbing the underside of their jaws on the grass like dogs often do.
I found myself calling out to them like I would to a nervous dog and they actually moved closer to within 6 or 8 feet of me. It seemed as though they were expecting to be fed or could not quite figure out what I was.
They then quietly slipped into the water and disappeared.
The whole magical episode probably only lasted about three minutes.

I have lived here since 1987 and during the first few years used to see an otter every once in a while. Always after dark and always on clear still evenings. It could be that the stillness made it easier to notice them. I mostly noticed them in the water and only once before had two fighting (I assumed, because it did not look friendly) on my lawn in the early hours of the morning. But for years now, as more development has taken place, I have not seen them.

This was a most thrilling experience.

Lucia Rodrigues.


A juvenile Porcupine (Hystrix africaeustralis) being handled to educate people about these animals, found at Zandvlei and on the Muizenberg and Steenberg mountains.
They are nocturnal and sleep in burrows during the day.



On 22/06/2016 a Cape Fur Seal was seen by Frances and Angus Hemp in the Marina canal where they live. We thought it may have been an otter at first but then a flipper appeared above the water.
updated 24/06/2016.


On 23/07/2014 a Cape Fur Seal was seen having a feast on the fish opposite the Imperial Yacht Club at about 13h30. This was during a ZEMF meeting. There were many cormorants also fishing in pods. The water was very turbid from the catchment ingress after the heavy rains experienced in the last week.


On 06/04/2012 this Cape Fur Seal was having a feast in the channel with the
Full Moon high tide coming in and a variety of fish going out and coming into the estuary.

photograph by Clifford Dorse                                                   photograph by Greg Morgan

Cape Fur Seal (Arctocephalus pusillus) - Una Hartley reported seeing a Cape Fur Seal swim over the rubble weir near the Royal Road bridge at about 18h00 on 26/07/2007.



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