The Region’s Fauna And Flora
The natural vegetation is a mix of coastal Fynbos which comprises of numerous Proteas (Protea caffra), Erica (Erica mammosa) and many bulb species like Watsonias (Watsonia meriana) and Gladiolas (Gladiolus communis), as well as temperate high forest known as the Tsitsikamma forests.
The trees are of tropical and afromontane origin, and include Ironwood (Olea capensis), Stinkwood (Ocotea bullata), Outeniqua Yellowwood (Afrocarpus falcatus), Real Yellowwood (Podocarpus latifolius), Cape Holly (Ilex mitis), White Pear (Apodytes dimidiata), Cape beech (Rapanea melanophloeos) and Cape Plane (Ochna arborea)
The Tsitsikamma forests (Tsitsikamma is the Khoi-San word for a place of many waters) are home to Elephant (disputed how many are still in the surrounding forests), Bush babies, Vervet monkeys, Baboons, Leopard, Bushbuck, Blue Duiker, Bush Pig and other mammals. It also has a rich assortment of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.
At Monkeyland and Birds of Eden you will often come across our Leopard Tortoises (Geochelone pardalis) that were originally illegal pets and after confiscation from Cape Nature given to Monkeyland for safe keeping. The Leopard Tortoise is the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world, with typical adults reaching 460 mm and weighing 18 kg. Large examples may be 70-centimetre long and weigh up to 54 kg.
In the wild, healthy populations still exist in rural areas, national parks and nature reserves. In areas of significant human populations, the leopard tortoise is considered vulnerable.
In most cases, wild-caught leopard tortoises are not only loaded with ticks, mites and internal parasites, but they are usually very stressed and dehydrated and may not voluntarily eat. Even in the best of circumstances, wild-caught leopard tortoises will run up extensive veterinary bills and much time will be spent rehabilitating them
Other animals that you may on rare occasions encounter in and around SAASA’s sanctauies are Brown House Snakes (Lamprophis fuliginosus), Puff Adder (Bitis arietans), Common Night Adder (Causes rhombeatus) as well as the Common Slug-eater (Duberria lutrix) a small snake, about 35 cm in length. The common slug-eater forages in moist situations, preying primarily on slugs, land snails are also occasionally eaten.
Birds that are commonly seen in the SAASA sanctuary forests include the Knysna Lourie (Tauraco corythaix), Cape Batis (Batis molitor), Olive Thrush (Turdus olivaceus), Cape White-eye (Zosterops pallidus) and if one is really really lucky the beautiful Narina Trogan (Apaloderma narina). At Birds of Eden, well – there you see just about everything.