Table Mountain visitors urged to protect fauna and flora

Table Mountain view from Signal Hill.

Protecting Table Mountain is the responsibility of everyone – a sentiment the team at Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC) advocates and promotes to all visitors.

To encourage greater awareness, TMACC offers free guided walks to visitors to learn more about the mountain’s biodiversity.

South Africa is home to some of the world’s most diverse flora and fauna.

Indigenous plant life includes some 23 000 species of flowering plants (including 728 species of trees) and more than 900 species of bird, representing 22 of the world’s living orders.

Mountains, in particular, are home to some of the rarest species, which have adapted to the high altitudes and, in many cases, are found nowhere else on the planet.

On Table Mountain alone there are more than 2 200 different plant species, some of which date back to over 60 million years ago.

“Apart from the magnificent view from the top, Table Mountain’s flora and fauna attract scores of nature lovers from all walks of life – from professionals to academics and students all the way to ordinary people who all feel an affinity with this natural wonder,” said Wahida Parker, MD at TMACC.

“With the mountain’s amazing biodiversity, including several variants of our national flower, it is probably one of the most photographed landmarks in the world.”

Table Mountain forms part of the Cape Floristic Region, supporting one of the highest diversities of flora, much of which is rare and endemic. Most notable is the Fynbos vegetation that can be found on its slopes, which include Protea, Erica, restio, Asteraceae and geophytes.

Environmental control officer at TMACC, Marie Abraham stated: “Fynbos is a unique plant type that has developed over millions of years – and was even around during the time of the dinosaurs. While these types of plants do need fire to promote production and dispersing of their seeds, much of it has become endangered due to the increased frequency of fires.”

There are more plant species located in the Cape Floristic Region than in the whole of the United Kingdom. In fact, the area has the richest floristic site in the world, which can largely be attributed to the differing biospheres located on each part of the mount.

Table Mountain also provides a haven to a number of animals, including snakes, birds, lizards, rare frogs, Klipspringer, the Himalayan Tahr and the well-known Dassie (rock hyrax) that is often seen at the top of the cableway station.

Ms Abraham said the area used to be home to a variety of large animals too.

“In the past, settlers to the Cape used to often cross paths with mountain lions and Hippos. Unfortunately, as the human settlements expanded, many of the larger animals dwindled in numbers – with the last lion spotted on the mountain in approximately 1802.”

The TMACC free guided walks take place on the hour from 9am to 3pm, departing from the Twelve Apostles Terrace, below the Shop at the Top and the Table Mountain Café, at the top station of the Cableway.