Wildlife Sanctuaries and Game Lodges

ID #1672

Cederberg Wilderness Area, Citrusdal, Boland, Western Cape.

200-km north of Cape Town, it stretches from the Middelburg Pass at Citrusdal to north of the Pakhuis Pass at Clanwilliam, encompassing 71000-Ha of rugged, mountainous terrain.† It was proclaimed a wilderness area in 1971 and, as such, enjoys the highest possible conservation status. It is renowned for its spectacular landscapes and conservation status as well as its namesake, the increasingly rare Clanwilliam cedar tree.† It is a popular holiday destination for hikers and mountaineers.

The mountains are part of the Cape folded mountain series and consist mainly of Table Mountain sandstone.† Weathered sandstone formations, most notably the Wolfberg Arch and the Maltese Crosse are typical.† They fall within the catchment area of the Cape fynbos region and are managed as a source of water.

San and Khoi inhabited the area from the earliest times.† European settlers began stock farming in the 18th century, and in 1876 a forester was appointed to oversee crown land in the mountains.† This was possibly the first attempt at conservation in the Cederberg.† The French nobleman, Count de Regne, who was in charge of state forests in the Cape Colony, named the Algeria campsite.†† The mountainous environment and the cedar trees reminded him of the Atlas Mountains in Algeria.† From 1903 to 1973, exploitation of natural products was rampant in the Cederberg. Large amounts of cedar wood, rooibos tea, buchu and rockwood bark were harvested.† Farmers even used the mountains to graze livestock in time of drought. Large numbers of cedar trees were felled for use in construction. 7200 young trees were used as telephone poles between Piketberg and Calvinia.† Cedar trees are now on the brink of extinction.† In 1967, the removal of dead cedar trees was halted, and other forms of exploitation ended in 1973.

The vegetation is predominantly mountain fynbos. The lower slopes support laurel protea, silky conebush, sand olive and yellow daisies, with wild olive and mountain maytenus on the rocky outcrops.† Waboom veld also occurs at this lower altitude.† The eye-catching purply blue ridderspoor as well as rooibos tea and buchu grow against the lower cliffs.† High up one finds fynbos restio veld, with red disas in abundance along streams on the plateau. The Clanwilliam cedar grows against cliffs and overhangs at altitudes of more than 1000-m. In the wetter ravines red and white els, yellowwood, hard-pear and Cape beech occur, while wild olive, silky bark and spoonwood prefer the drier kloofs.† The endemic snow protea is perhaps the most attractive plant on the higher peaks. It is very scarce and is found at only a few sites in the area.

Baboons, dassies, grey rhebuck, klipspringer, duiker and grysbok are common. Although porcupine, honey badger, Cape clawless otter and aardvark (ant bear) occur, they are seldom seen.† Leopards are common but shy. Smaller predators include caracal, African wild cat, bat-eared fox, aardwolf and Cape fox.† Grey mongoose and striped polecat are often seen.† Various interesting rodents are seen, including the spectacled dormouse.† More than 100 bird species occur, with black eagle, rock kestrel and jackal buzzard being the most common raptors.† The armadillo lizard is endemic to the area.† About 16 snake species are found here, including puffadder, berg adder and black spitting cobra. The Clanwilliam yellowfish, Clanwilliam red fin minnow and fiery red minnow are but some of the threatened fish species endemic to the Olifants River that may be found in the area.

Cedar trees are becoming scarcer in spite of the protection offered by the wilderness area.† A cedar reserve of about 5250-Ha was created in 1987 in an attempt to prevent the extinction of these trees.† Hot fires that are disastrous for the adult trees are limited. Cooler, more frequent burning is practised instead.† Cedar trees are also being cultivated and each year about 8000 year-old trees are planted in the reserve.†

The area forms the core of the leopard conservation area that was established in 1988. It includes private land and is managed in collaboration with the landowners.† The aim is to promote the existence of leopards by minimising conflict between stock farming and nature conservation.† The Olifants River has the richest variety of endemic fish of all rivers south of the Zambezi.† Eight of the 10 indigenous fish species found in the Olifants River are endemic.† Fish habitats have been drastically degraded in recent times and the number of fish has decreased to the extent that these eight now face extinction.† A programme to protect habitats and breed fish artificially for restocking of rehabilitated rivers and other suitable habitats has been established.

In the primitive wilderness, activities such as hiking and rock climbing are encouraged.† Various hikes criss-cross the area. The cliffs of the Krakadouw and Table Mountain peaks are the most popular.

There are hundreds of rocky overhangs and caves with fine examples of rock art.† They vary in age from 300 to 6000 years old and are very sensitive to damage.† They are an integral part of the fascination of the area and are protected by the National Monuments Act.

The peaceful atmosphere of the Algeria campsite has broad appeal. 46 sites are located on the banks of the Rondegat River. The Kliphuis campsite in Pakhuis Pass is on the flower route to the Biedou Valley and Wuppertal.† It has 10 sites under shady trees along the Kliphuis River.† Five chalets, including Uitkyk homestead and Waenhuis, are near the Rondegat River and offer simple yet comfortable accommodation.†

The wilderness is divided into utilisation zones, which helps to maintain the wilderness atmosphere and limit the impact of visitors.† There are three blocks of 24000 ha each, and numbers are limited to 50 people per block per day, with groups being limited to a minimum of two and a maximum of 12 persons per day.† Reservations for hiking or accommodation may be made 4 months in advance. Book well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Citrusdal and Clanwilliam are on the N7 north of Cape Town. BFCederberg

Contct:††† Cape Nature Conservation
Citrusdal District Office
Private Bag X1 Citrusdal 7340
+27 (22) 921 2289 telephone
+27 (22) 921 3219 fax
web: www.capenature.org.za

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Last update: 2014-05-14 17:11
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.2

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