The Tsitsikamma National Park (TNP) is situated on southern Cape coast, and straddles the boundary between the Western- and Eastern Cape provinces. The centre of the park is approximately 80 km west of Humansdorp and 50 km east of Plettenberg Bay.
The terrestrial section of the park is approximately 29 000ha in extent.
The sectors are as follows:
- The long (60 km) and narrow (0.9km) ‘eastern’ sector (c. 2 000 ha), stretching along the coast between Oubosstrand and Nature’s Valley.
- The broader (3-5 km) De Vasselot sector (c. 2 600 ha), extending westward from Nature’s Valley to Grootbank.
- The large (c. 24 400 ha) contractual Soetkraal area, which is situated in the Tsitsikamma Mountains Range some 15 km inland from the coast, and
- The small contractual areas near De Vasselot (viz. Erven 382, 444 and the Remainder of 434, Nature’s Valley, and portions of Farm 299 and Matjies River 295 )
The marine section of the park is about 35 100 ha in extent, and consists of:
- The large (34 300 ha) TNP Marine Protected Area (TNPMPA), which extends
between 0.5 and 3 nautical miles offshore along the length of eastern sector of
the park, and is a no-take or restricted zone.
- The smaller (c. 800 ha) the marine section, which is adjacent to the TNPMPA
and extended 0.5 nautical miles off the De Vasselot coast, where resource
utilization is permitted in accordance with the legislation of the Marine Living
Resources Act (Act No. 18 of 1998).
History – Tsitsikamma National Park
After extensive negotiations between the National Parks Board and the then Secretary of the
Department of Forestry and his Minister, the Tsitsikamma Coastal and Forest National Parks were
proclaimed in 1964 (Knobel 1989, Robinson 1989). The size of the park has changed over the
years, with the following proclamations:
- The seaward boundary of the park between the Groot (east) – and the Bloukrans
rivers was extended to three nautical miles offshore (Government Gazette No
8871, Notice 125, 3 September 1983).
- De Vasselot Nature Reserve was added to the coastal park (Government
Gazette No 11068, Notice No 2814 & 2815, 18 December 1987)
- The small Tsitsikamma Forest National Park was deproclaimed in 1989
(Government Gazette 1989), and the name of the coastal park was shortened to
the Tsitsikamma National Park (Government Gazette No 17298, Notice 1077,
28 June 1996).
- In October 1991 a 30 year lease was signed with Rand Mines Properties Limited
to contractually manage the Soetkraal area, and in 1997 Soetkraal was
proclaimed a contractual park in terms of the National Parks Act, 1976
(Government Gazette No 17728, Notice 100. 17 January 1997, National Parks
Act, 1976 (Act No. 57 of 1976).
- The seaward boundary of the De Vasselot section was extended 0.5 nautical
miles (0.9 km) offshore (Government Gazette No 17073, Notice 538, 4 April
1996), and in December 2000 the marine section of the park (excluding the
above De Vasselot marine area) became the Tsitsikamma National Park Marine
Protected Area (Government Gazette No. 21948, Notice 1429, 29 December
2000, Marine Living Resources Act 1998 (Act No. 18 of 1998).
Climate – Tsitsikamma National Park
The climate along the coast is mild, and frost is rare. The mean monthly maximum air temperatures recorded over a 12 year period (1992 – 2003) at Storm River Mouth ranged from 19.0 – 24,8 C, and the minimum air temperatures from 9.9 – 17.8 C. The annual rainfall of 743 mm was fairly evenly distributed throughout the year (Hanekom 2005). The rainfall and ranges in maximum and minimum temperatures increases further inland on the coastal plateau and southern slope of the Tsitsikamma Mountains. A year round feature of the south coast is the prevailing westerly winds (Stone et al. 1998), while onshore easterly winds are prevalent during summer (Schumann et al.1982).
Mammals Tsitsikamma National Park
Thirty-nine terrestrial mammal species have been recorded for the coastal sector of the park, including two species of special concern: blue duiker Philantomba monticola and honey badger Mellivora capensis. The park is narrow and largely unfenced and mammal species move freely in and out of the reserve. This is particularly true of the primate- (chacma baboon and vervet monkey), carnivore (leopard, caracal and honey badger) and antelope (bushbuck) species. Furthermore, fynbos and forests in the Southern Cape occur on nutrient-poor soils (Van Daalen 1981; 1984), and therefore have a low carrying capacity for sustaining large herbivores (Cody et. al. 1983 in Rebelo 1992; Koen 1984). Consequently, the population density estimates of the two antelope species in these forests, blue duiker (c. 1 individual.5.5 ha-1) and bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus (c. 1 individual.20 ha-1), as well as the bushpig Potamochoerus porcus (c. 1 individual.25 ha-1) are very low (von Gadow 1978; Odendaal & Bigalke 1979; Seydack 1990; Bowland 1990; Hanekom & Wilson 1991).
Other noteworthy mammals are the Cape clawless otters Aonyx capensis and Egyptian fruit bats Rousettus aegyptiacus. Some 30 otters occur along the coast of the eastern sector (van der Zee 1982; Arden-Clarke 1983), while substantial numbers (c 3 000 individuals) of fruit bats have been noted in a cave along the Storms River gorge (Herzig-Straschel & Robinson 1978). The Vulnerable hump-back dolphin Sotalia plumbea appears to frequent the Tsitsikamma coast throughout the year, the bottle-nosed dolphins Tursiops truncatus mostly during spring and summer, and small numbers of the southern right whales Eubalaena australis during winter and spring, (Saayman et al. 1972; Best 2000).