Baakens Valley Action
The Baakens River Valley
BAAKENS VALLEY ACTION

Fauna

Mammals in the Baakens Valley

There are 24 mammal species in the Baakens Valley, but their numbers are dwindling due to the loss of habitat through development and illegal hunting. These include the Cape Gysbok (Raphicerus melanotis), the Small Grey Mongoose (Galerella purverulenta) and the Rock Dassie (Procaviaa capensis). The endemic (and endangered) Cape Clawless otter also occurs in the Valley, but its riverine habitat has become disturbed due to pollution, development and alien vegetation infestation.

Birds in the Baakens Valley

The bird life in the Valley is very rich due to the wide variety of habitats and It is estimated that there are 131 bird species of which 19 are known to only breed in the Valley. These include many sunbird species (due to the flowering fynbos), flycatchers, Woodpeckers (in the forest/thicket areas), Kingfishers (near the riparian areas) and some raptors such as the African Goshawk (Accipiter tachiro). Alien vegetation has formed an additional bird habitat attracting birds such as the larger doves. Water birds such as the African Black Duck (Anas sparsa) would have habituated the lake area in the lower Baakens, but have disappeared due to the complete degradation of this large water bodies.

Fish in the Baakens River

The latest 2013 fish survey reported 10 species of fish in the Baakens River. This report did not include the catadromous fish species. Endangered species such as the Fresh Water Mullet (Myxus capensis) - which is on the red data list- , the Flathead Mullet (Mugil caphalus), the Cape Moony (Monodactylus falciformis), the Longfin Eel (Anguilla mossambica) and the African Mottled Eel (Anguilla marmorata). This fish have historically spawned
 and incubated their eggs in the sea and larvae and juveniles have migrated through the Baakens River mouth and upstream to complete their life cycle.

Due to canalisation of the river most larvae and juveniles do not make it upstream as they have no shallow refuge areas and are eaten by predators. Thus, there is a desperate need to rehabilitate the river mouth and to increase river surface area and shallow refuge areas for the juvenile fish.

Further barriers occur in the lower reaches due to the many causeways and weirs built in Settler’s park, making movement upstream very difficult or impossible at low flow. There is thus a need to either remove weirs and causeways or to provide fishways.

Further upstream, the Goldie (Barbus pallidus) and Eastern Cape Refin Minnow (Pseudobarbus afer) are threatened by siltation and habitat loss from alien vegetation infestation. The Goldie migrates up and down the Baakens River, but the Redfin Minnow prefers the upper reaches. Rehabilitation of the upper reaches of the Baakens River is thus urgently needed in order to prevent this species from becoming extinct.

In 2014 a new species the Stenogobius polyzona was spotted in the Baakens River and is currently being investigated.

Other fauna in the Baakens River Valley

There 24 reptile species and 7 frog species which inhabit the Valley. The most common is the tortoise (the Angulate and Mountain Tortoise) and a number of snake species, including the venomous Puff adder (Bitis arietans).

There are numerous insects, worms, beetles and spiders which inhabit the Valley as well as crustaceans such as the River Crab (Potomom perlatus).