Fauna & flora

Local flora (pic: Cape Tourism)

Thanks to the high biodiversity of our vegetation, Cape Town is home to a variety of fascinating creatures, from birds and smaller mammals to snakes, tortoises and chameleons. Each species has its place in the web of life.

Our rich floral kingdom and the fynbos system, in particular, supports many creatures. Cape Town is home to around:

  • 364 birds
  • 83 mammals
  • 27 amphibians (2 endemic)
  • 8 freshwater fish
  • countless invertebrates – more than 140 endemics
Cape Gannets

Other mammals in Cape Town include Porcupine, Caracal, Cape fox, African Wild Cat, Honey Badger, Genet and Cape Leopard – to name a few. The Cape has over half of South Africa’s frog species. Of the 62 different frogs we have here, 29 are found nowhere else on earth.

  • Mammals: Smaller mammals like baboons, klipspringers, grysbok, dassies, mongooses and the striped field mouse are typical of the area.
  • Birds: All six bird species endemic to the south-west Cape are fynbos species. Of these, the Cape sugarbird and orange-breasted sunbird are not found in any other type of vegetation. These birds play an important role in pollinating Cape flowers.
  • Insects: The fynbos supports a large number of butterflies, though many are at risk.
  • Reptiles and amphibians: Although our fynbos system isn’t very rich in reptiles and amphibians, many of the species are both endemic and threatened. Our geometric tortoise is regarded as the world’s second rarest tortoise.

Fynbos is the main indigenous (local) vegetation type found in our city and the Cape region. The word fynbos is Dutch for ‘fine-leafed plant’. Some of the most famous fynbos flowers are proteas, ericas, buchus, pelargoniums, gazanias, disas and gladioli – beloved to Capetonians and South Africans alike. 

Fynbos is a unique kind of vegetation that makes up 80% of the UNESCO-honoured Cape Floristic Region, two-thirds of which are found only in the Cape. With more than 7 000 plant species, it is also the richest ecosystem in the Cape Floristic Region. The other relatively extensive vegetation types are renosterveld and strandveld, contributing over 2 000 plant species. Among its 19 vegetation types, Cape Town has six that are endemic. These are confined to the city and only possible to conserve within City boundaries.

King Protea

Protea flowers feature as a symbol for our city and parts of our country:

  • The City’s new logo is based on a protea flower.
  • The Red Disa is the symbol of the Western Cape province.
  • The King Protea is South Africa’s national flower.
  • The South African cricket team is named after the protea.

Source: City of Cape Town