This 2 500 hectare coastal reserve on the southern Cape shore, near the Knysna forests, consists of the Goukamma River estuary, 14 kilometres of beach and Groenvlei Lake, a fresh water body with no inflowing river and no exit to the sea, trapped behind some of the highest vegetated dunes in the country. A marine proctected area extends 1 nautical mile out to sea, and 18 kilometres along the coast, giving protection to inter-tidal marine species (only angling with a rod and line is allowed, collection of shellfish is prohibited). There is a rich bird life (220 species), and surprising array of mammals, including caracal, honey badger, Cape clawless otter, grysbok, porcupine, bushpig and bushbuck.
Goukamma Nature Reserve
It's hard to believe that there was a major oil spill at Goukamma Nature Reserve last month. There is plenty of natural beauty about, especially for such a small reserve, and whatever oil is left on the beach is minimal and hard to notice.
I've spent the past few days walking the various trails in the reserve, on both the beaches and the vegetated dunes alongside the coast. These are covered in coastal fynbos, and the spring flowers are starting to emerge.
I also borrowed the reserve's little boat to explore Groenvlei. This is an inland, natural body of fresh water that has no rivers flowing into it or out of it. It's essentially ground water that is trapped between Read more »
The small Goukamma Nature Reserve and its marine protected area – a total of about 65 square kilomeres - is one of the least-known conservation areas in the country, located between Knysna and George in the southern Cape.
But it became the centre of attention on the 9th August this year, when the 182-metre Kiani Satu cargo vessel ran aground just offshore of Goukamma’s pristine beaches.
The German-owned vessel was carrying 15 000 tons of rice, and about 200 tons of fuel oil, which is essentially sticky tar. About 50 tons leaked out of the vessel, and some of it ended up blackening the beaches of the reserve and covering the ocean surface of the marine protected area, Read more »