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Wildlife Encounter Safety Tips you Should Know Before Visiting Cape Town

Cape Town is home to a diverse array of wildlife, from charming African penguins to playful seals and even mischievous baboons.

If you are visiting the Mother City, it is crucial to respect these animals. Here are some tips on how to interact safely with these animals:

5 Tips to Ensure Safety

Maintain a Safe Distance

Keep a respectful distance, especially if they are in their natural habitat. A minimum distance of 5m is always required by law. While pictures are great to have, ensure that these are taken from afar and do not threaten the animals.

No Feeding Allowed

Resist the urge to feed wild animals. Human food can be harmful to their health and disrupt their natural foraging behaviours. Instead, donate to an animal organisation of your choice.

Shhh

Keep noise to a minimum. Loud sounds can stress animals and interrupt their daily routines.

Avoid Direct Eye Contact

While it may seem like a friendly gesture, direct eye contact can sometimes be perceived as a threat. Keep a gentle gaze and let them go about their business undisturbed.

Secure Your Belongings

Wildlife is naturally curious. Keep a close eye on your belongings and secure any food or items that might attract their attention.

Understanding These Animals Better

Cape Fur Seals

*Seals can bite if harassed, cornered, stressed and/or antagonised. *Observe from a safe distance and move away immediately if approached by a seal on the beach. Seals can move quickly over short distances, especially on soft sandy beaches.
*Do not attempt to touch, handle, chase, feed, and do not throw water on any resting seal.
*Keep dogs leashed and prevent them from approaching any seal at all times.
*Do not sit on/touch, take a selfie with, feed any seal, or pay any person to do so. This is illegal and detrimental to yourself and the seal.

African Penguins

*Always keep a lawful distance of 5m away from any nesting or congregating penguins. This requires you to move away from any penguin unless you are on a penguin-viewing boardwalk.
*Do not block a penguin’s path to the sea or to its nest. Do not approach any penguin, chick, eggs or nest with selfie sticks or cameras. *Do not climb onto any rock where penguins are resting and/or moulting.
*Remain outside of restricted areas and do not climb over or through any clearly demarcated barriers or off any pathway or boardwalk within the penguin areas.
*Always look under your car before driving off after viewing penguins. *Penguins bite, so do not attempt to touch or feed.

Cape Clawless Otters

*Observe from a safe distance. Move away slowly if approached.
*Otters can bite, so do not attempt to touch or handle.
*If you are in a tidal pool, you are required to move away from the otter, even if this means exiting the tidal pool.
*Keep dogs leashed, under control and away from any otter at all times.

Otter

Seabirds

*Keep dogs leashed and under control where there are roosting seabirds and actively nesting seabirds.
*It is illegal for a dog to chase/harass any seabird.

Whales and Dolphins

*Remain 300m away from any whale or dolphin.
*Entering a dolphin pod with any vessel is prohibited. If it can’t be avoided, the vessel should be stopped, and the dolphin/whale pod allowed to move off without any disturbance or interaction with any vessel, paddler, swimmer or snorkeler.
*Any beached whale or dolphin or any whale/dolphin in distress or visibly entangled should be reported immediately to the city on 021 480 7700.

Baboons

*Ensure that no open food is to be displayed near any baboons. Do not attempt to feed or approach.
*Move away slowly or stand still and let the baboons pass calmly.
*Always keep dogs on a leash and away from coastal areas frequented by baboons.
*Ensure all domestic and commercial waste from any establishment complies with the legal requirements for disposal and collection.
*When you encounter baboons while driving, ensure that you slow down your vehicle, close the vehicle’s windows, lock the doors and stay in the vehicle. Baboons have learnt to associate cars with food and may attempt to gain access to the vehicle.

Penalties

*Failure to act responsibly could result in an arrest, spot fine or both. *The City will take action against any tour operator, tour guide or establishment that encourages their clients to disobey or mislead their clients in any way, resulting in unlawful behaviour in and around our coastal wildlife.
*Tour operators, tour guides and tourism establishments are encouraged to educate and inform their clients to avoid any penalties and to always ensure their safety.
*Any person found contravening the laws protecting coastal wildlife, may be arrested, prosecuted and or fined.
*Please report transgressions to 021 480 7700. Source: The South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

About Us

Cape Town Tourism is the city of Cape Town's official Regional Tourism Organisation, responsible for tourism marketing, visitor and industry services.

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