Close encounters with wildlife on the Swartberg Pass

The Swartberg Pass is a perfect mountain drive to photograph fynbos and landscapes. For birders, it is also an accessible site to view Cape Rockjumper and Ground Woodpecker. Recently the southern slope was burnt by fire which will stimulate the fynbos over the next couple of years. In June, we had a fortune encounter with a pair of Klipspringers, a species of African antelope that live in steep mountainous regions,  on the southern slope near the pass. The pair were obviously not scared of vehicles and remained within 5m of our vehicle, jumping across boulders in a spectacular display of their ability across such rugged terrain. This was before the fire. Again, in the last week of September we again were privileged to traverse the pass, this time from the north. 2km from the pass, we encountered a pair of Klipspringers. Again, they were so relaxed near our vehicle it prompted Amanda to speculate that they were the same pair seen in July. Unaware at this stage of the impact of the fire, I dismissed the idea, citing that it was too far from the location of the initial sighting. It was only as we crested the pass and saw the devastation caused by the fire that we realized that the probability that they were the same pair was very likely.

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