South Nature Reserves

     Zeekoevlei Nature Reserve
     (False Bay Ecology Park)

  • 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 shore.

  • 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.

  • Zeekoevlei is one of the best places in South Africa to see water birds. These include a pair of African Fish Eagles (Haliaeetus vocifer), herons, cormorants, 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) and 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 at Zeekoevlei.

  • 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  [] 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.

  Rondevlei Nature Reserve   Greater Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve
  Cape Flats Waste Water Treatment Works   Back to listing of South Nature Reserves