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February 21, 2013

Intaka Island – protecting Cape Town’s wetlands and birds

Intaka Island is home to numerous birds, including this malachite kingfisher. Photo courtesy of Craig Adam Photography

The beautiful, 16ha wetland and bird sanctuary Intaka Island is situated in the heart of Century City, just 7km from Cape Town’s city centre.

Intaka – the Xhosa word for “bird” – is an example of the mutual benefits that can occur when there is co-existence between nature conservation and property development. Being a wetland that is home to a multitude of rare and popular birds and spectacular flora, Intaka offers more than just a place to see – it is also a place where one can just be.

Get in touch with nature and take some time off from the busy lifestyle of the city. Wander the sanctuary and observe the exquisite simplicity of Mother Nature.

In 1996, when the development of Century City began, the 250ha area was covered in invasive alien vegetation and degraded wetlands, which are used by a large number of birds as breeding sites. This prompted the completion of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) prior to development proceeding, to protect the wildlife there.

In an effort to contribute to conservation and create an attractive wetland, it was recommended that a multi-purpose nature reserve be built in the centre of Century City. As a result of these efforts Intaka Island was developed – a representation of a distinctively successful union of conservation and property development.

Intaka’s environmental manager, Alan Liebenberg, explains that the island’s role in its conservation efforts is split into three functions: “Firstly, Intaka Island uses the surrounding wetlands like a closed, water-purifying system for the 7km-long canal network of Century City. Secondly, it helps to maintain the breeding and roosting site of the birds in the wetlands.”

“Lastly, 8ha of the area consists of rare vegetation only found in Cape Town, the sand plain fynbos. This vegetation is critically endangered, with less than one percent of it being conserved.”

With the increasing demands growing populations place on the our planet’s limited resources, it has become important to expose the world to concepts such as sustainability, ecosystems and biodiversity.

Intaka Island and its own Education Centre do exactly that, providing visitors with the opportunity to have an environmental learning experience, naturally.

Visitors reach the island via a bridge across the circular canal. A family ticket (two adults and three children) costs R20, adults pay R8, children and pensioners pay R4.

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