Zeekoevlei Nature Reserve was proclaimed
in June 2000. It is 344 hectares in area
and protects a large freshwater vlei (258 hectares) as well as
Strandveld vegetation in the south and Sand Fynbos along the northern
This wetland is named after the large
numbers of hippos (Afrikaans = seekoeie) that once lived here.
Today there are about 160 private homes on
the banks of Zeekoevlei and more than 20 different clubs use the vlei
for water sports like sailing, rowing, water skiing and fishing. It
would not be possible to re-introduce
dangerous animals like hippos to
the vlei but these animals live right next door at Rondevlei.
Originally, Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei were
part of a system of Cape Flats wetlands that varied in size and depth
depending on the season and the amount of rainfall.
In 1954, a weir was built to control the
level of the water in Zeekoevlei. Since then, nutrients
entering the vlei have been trapped in the permanent lake, causing the water to become
enriched. As a result, Zeekoevlei contains huge numbers of microscopic
algae, which colour the water green.
At the end of April each year, large
sluice gates are opened to drain much of the water out of Zeekoevlei.
This is called the annual “draw down”. It gets rid of much of the
nutrient-rich water and allows the City to remove huge amounts of
rubbish that wash into the vlei from rivers and storm water drains.
After two months the sluice gates are replaced and the vlei starts to
fill again. Many water birds visit Zeekoevlei when the water level is
low to feed on small creatures in the mud.
is one of the best places in South Africa to see water birds.
These include a pair of
African Fish Eagles (Haliaeetus vocifer),
Great Crested Grebes (Podiceps cristatus),
and the Near Threatened
Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus)
and Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus).
Mammals include the
Small Grey Mongoose (Galerella pulverulenta),
Water Mongoose (Atilax paludinosus),
Cape Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis),
Vlei Rat (Otomys irroratus),
Four Striped Mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio),
Grysbok (Raphicerus melanotis) and bats.
Reptiles include the
Cape Skink (Mabuya capensis),
Cape Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion pumilum),
Mole Snake (Pseudaspis cana),
Cape Cobra (Naja nivea),
Puff Adder (Bitis arietans),
Angulate Tortoise (Chersina angulata)
Marsh Terrapin (Pelomedusa subrufra)
Amphibians include the
Western Leopard Toad (Bufo pantherinus - Endangered),
Clicking Stream Frog (Strongylopus grayii),
Arum Lily Frog (Hyperolius horstockii) and
Common Platanna (Xenopus laevis).
Most of the fish in Zeekoevlei are
alien species, e.g.
Banded Tilapia (Tilapia sparmanii),
Common Carp (Cyprinus caprio) and
Sharp Toothed Catfish (Clarius gariepinus).
The only indigenous fish that remains is the
Cape Galaxias (Galaxias zebratus).
A Critically Endangered butterfly named
Barber’s Ranger (Kedestes barberae bunta) has been recorded
When people live very close to or inside a
nature reserve, their activities have a direct effect on the plants
and animals that the reserve is trying to protect. Some of the things
that have a negative impact on nature at Zeekoevlei are water
pollution, alien plants, domestic cats, bright lights at night, noise
and people directly interfering with the plants and animals.
Some people who live at Zeekoevlei are
helping to protect nature. A group of residents has been working with
the City of Cape Town and Working for Wetlands to turn their gardens
on the banks of the vlei into a beautiful nature reserve. The City
removed all the alien plants (including Port Jackson and Kikuyu Grass)
and Working for Wetlands planted about 10 000 indigenous plants in
their place. These plants include seven threatened species that are on
the Red List. The residents are now caring for this restored natural
area, keeping it clean and free of aliens.
The Zeekoevlei Environmental Education
Programme [email@example.com] has a centre on the
western side of Zeekoevlei. School and community groups can enjoy
three-day educational and adventure programmes, staying overnight at
the Zeekoevlei centre and at a bush camp at Rondevlei.