25 January 2014

Welcome To Koeberg

Last year I started camera trapping at a new location. It is reasonably close to my home and offers some new habits and species to explore.

Yours truly, walking towards my Bushnell camera trap at Koeberg Nature Reserve

Koeberg Nature Reserve as a small nature reserve just outside Cape Town, along the West coast, close to Melkbosstrand, in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

It is still early days, but I think Koeberg offers some interesting opportunities for camera trapping. A large part of the reserve is Strandveld with large sections of sandy dunes. Some dunes are covered by dense vegetation, but there are also large stretches of open dunes.

I've seen fairly little camera trapping photos from "sandy" or "coastal" areas and have been playing around with the idea for a while now. I believe Koeberg is an excellent location to explore these types of habitats.

One thing I have noticed about this nature reserve is that it is crawling (or is it slithering) with snakes! I'm luckily not ophidiophobic, but I still have a healthy respect for any dangerous creature.

Cape Cobra (Kaapse Kobra / Geelslang - Naja nivea) baking in the sun on the edge of the road

Thus far the Cape Cobra has been the most frequently encountered snake, which is a bit of a problem since they are known to be very dangerous, biting readily. The fact that they are behind the most snake bite deaths in South Africa does not help... With the most potent neurotoxic venom on the continent, for a Cobra, you have to be careful. If bitten you have 1-10 hours to get to a hospital for treatment, or it might be too late.

These snakes are active during the day and most I've seen are (the usual) 1.2-1.4m in length, but snakes up to 1.8m have been found (luckily not by me). With this many dangerous snakes around I try to stay alert when I'm checking my cameras.

Another snake I've managed to snap a photo of was this Mole Snake. Luckily these snakes aren't venomous, but a bite from one may still result in a hospital trip, to get stitches. They use the cutting edge on their teeth to inflict serious wounds and may bite viciously when threatened.

Mole Snake (Molslang - Pseudaspis cana) slithering past me

But I'm not at Koeberg for the snakes, I'm there for the mammals.

A bit of a surprise for me, although I know it shouldn't be, was the presence of Steenbok in the reserve. I know it is perfectly normal for them to be there, but I'm used to seeing them in different parts of the country that don't resemble the sandy dunes at Koeberg much.

I'm also happy to say that this is the first appearance of this little antelope on this blog and coincidentally also my first time camera trapping one, which feels almost strange given how common they are and how often I've seen them in the flesh.

Steenbok (Steenbok - Raphicerus campestris) camera trapped at Koeberg Nature Reserve


  1. Hey Henry. It will be interesting to see if you ever get a snake on your cameras.

  2. Looking forward to see what you 'trap' in this new area. Thank you Henry for sharing your discoveries.

  3. Great location Henry. Definitely be interesting to see what animals prowl those habitats.

  4. Good luck there. New habitats = different species (a lot of the time). Is this golden ole habitat?

  5. Thanks for the comments :)
    @Jeremy: If I recall correctly I photographed a snake last year, but it wasn't a good photo. It would be nice to get a good mugshot of one.
    @Codger: Yes I've seen many Golden Mole tunnels while walking in the reserve so there are plenty of them around, but they will be very tricky to photograph because their tunnels collapse behind them, they are small and I suspect often have low body temperatures... But we are jumping the gun a bit :P I've got some Golden Mole Goodness lined up (from another location), so stay tuned ;)