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Cape Town wildlife IV

This is the fourth post in my monthly series on the fascinating nature I encounter here in South Africa.

I’ve seen so much wildlife that it’s hard to keep this to one post per month – I still have photos from months ago that I haven’t had a chance to show you yet! I’ll try to come up with some kind of theme for each post, to help me select which photos to include. My theme this month is giants – and I have a very varied selection that fits into this category! I’ll show them by size…

I’ve been hearing something large that buzzes as loudly as a hummingbird flying around my garden, but I couldn’t figure out what it was until I finally saw one on the ground. This is one big beetle (about an inch long):
garden fruit chafer
It’s a garden fruit chafer (pachnoda sinuata), from the same family as scarabs and dung beetles. Apparently, it’s a pest because it feeds on fruit and flowers. All I know is it gives me a fright when one zooms right past my head!

cape lappet moth caterpillar
This is the caterpillar of the Cape Lappet Moth. Although they are about 4″ long, seeing one by itself like this isn’t too scary – it’s actually quite pretty, with a purple patch on its head and soft coppery hairs on each side. But you’ll commonly see dozens swarming together on a tree trunk, and that’s a far creepier sight…

cape porcupine
The porcupine is the largest rodent in Africa, sometimes reaching over 2 feet long! We saw these Cape Porcupines at World of Birds – although they are common here, they’re also nocturnal, so there’s not much chance of me getting a photo of one in the wild. Just look at those quills!

Imagine going for a walk along the river by your house and seeing this giant coming in to land (there’s a pigeon there too, for scale – it has a 9ft wingspan)…

It is, of course, a Great White Pelican. At 160cm long, it’s as long as I am tall! We watched it waddling around on the river bank, preening, and then swimming around for ages with its big feet visible behind it in the water as it slowly paddled. Then a second one flew down to join it, looking more like a giant pterosaur than a bird in flight. It’s just amazing to see this kind of thing!

rondevlei nature reserve
We visited Rondevlei Nature Reserve, only a short drive from our house and home to around 230 species of birds. We saw over 35 species on our visit, but this vlei (lake) is actually also home to a family of hippos! We spent a while looking for them, but hippos usually stay underwater during the day, and only emerge to graze in the evening.

hippo tracks
We didn’t see any sign of a hippo except these tracks they have trampled (unfortunately, it’s not that obvious from my photo, but the grass in the middle, between the bushes, is the hippo trail). Maybe we’ll catch a glimpse of an actual hippo next time we visit…

At this time of year, Southern Right Whales come close to shore, to breed and give birth. We were just on our way back from Rondevlei, when we saw what was unmistakeably a whale tail, sticking up out of the water. Our first whale! I assumed it would be about the size of a beluga whale; it was only later when I got home that I discovered that this whale is 50ft (15m) long, and the tail alone is around 5m wide – no wonder it was so easy to spot (hence the poor photo quality; we were actually a very long way away). The whale kept its tail pointed up out of the water for ages – this is apparently a known behaviour called ‘sailing’.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my latest wildlife update. Life is certainly very different for me here, and not without its challenges and frustrations, but, as a nature lover, it’s wonderful for me to see all these animals and birds that I imagined I’d only ever see in zoos or on wildlife documentaries, and I’m not taking that for granted!


  1. Rene said

    Wow, your photos are very cool! I am Australian but lived in Orangeville and Guelph Ontario for 6 years before moving back to Australia with my Canadian husband. I imagine there are a lot of things about South Africa that are so different to Canada. My husband took a long time to get used to the hot summer christmas days…although the fact that he hasnt seen snow in 20 years is a total bonus as far as he is concerned!
    Love your amigurumi animals, I may get the courage up to try one some day!

  2. Lynn said

    Thanks for sharing. Your blog talks about two of my favorite things–wildlife and crochet.

  3. Kateryn said

    Yay! Insects again! 🙂
    I love your wildlife posts – thank you for making us travel through your blog post. What a nice shot of that pelican! It’s just missing flying goggles 😉

  4. Francois said

    Here’s an interesting detail about the fruit chafer you may not have noticed:
    Despite them being a common sight most of my life, I never noticed until a couple of years ago.

    And here are some swarming lappet moth caterpillars my mother photographed last week:
    (I found your page by googling for them.)

    Enjoy South Africa! That’s where I was born but now live in the UK.

  5. Susan said

    Amazing, thanks for sharing! I agree that I think the beetle would be creepy. In fact it IS creepy! Look forward to your nature photos & posts. More often even would be nice.

  6. Monica said

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing! All I have here are squirrels and spiders :/ hehe : )

  7. Simone said

    Awesome! The beetle give me the creeps, too, but the porcupine or the pelican would make great Amigurumi IMO! 😀

  8. Wow – there are some amazing colors and shapes in these creatures! Definitely inspiring scenery for anything creative or artistic you might want to do!

  9. Angela R said

    So awesome, June! I envy your opportunity to live among such wildlife.

  10. camelama said

    Love these posts – keep sharing! 🙂

  11. Sophia Roberts said

    How very interesting. Thanks so much for sharing.

  12. wink said

    This all looks amazing! I love that beetle, it looks so groovy! 🙂 I saw those pelicans at the zoo the other day and they are indeed big! But also incredibly beautiful 🙂

  13. Gillian McMullen said

    I loved this, June — can’t wait for the next one!

  14. Kris said

    Really enjoy seeing the different types of animals. How exciting to have a whale that close!

    Best Wishes,

  15. Kim Guzman said

    Absolutely incredible! Thank you for sharing the photos. 🙂

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