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Table Mountain National Park

People & Conservation

Introduction

The goal of People & Conservation (P&C) is to build constituencies among people in support of the conservation of the natural and cultural heritage efforts of SANParks. P&C ensures that a broad base of South Africans participate and get involved in biodiversity initiatives and further that all its operations have a synergistic existence with neighbouring or surrounding communities for their socio-economic benefit. We do this through:

  1. Community Relations - to establish an effective community relations environment with stakeholders in the proximity of the parks.
  2. Cultural Resource Management & Indigenous Knowledge - to manage our protected areas, in a manner that will uphold the rights of all people, as well as protecting and restoring places of cultural and spiritual significance. 
  3. Environmental Education awareness, Interpretation & Training - to implement comprehensive environmental interpretation, awareness and education programmes particularly targeting children and previously excluded sectors.
  4. Youth Outreach - to coordinate and integrate portfolios of youth conservation awareness projects and tasks. The People’s Trail at TMNP is one such programme and it is designed for youth from previously disadvantaged communities of Cape Town.
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Environmental Experience
  • Junior Rangers
  • Volunteers & Friends

Cultural Heritage

A glance at our Cultural History

From various historical evidence that has been found in the park, dating from early Stone Age (around 600 000 years ago), to the SAN and Khoi Khoi (about 2000 years ago) people who left their middens (prehistoric refuse heaps) and rock art paintings inside numerous caves (e.g. Peer's Cave) along the mountain chain, we know that people have been using the slopes of Table Mountain in the north, to the southern Cape of Good Hope throughout history. These pieces of evidence left behind have helped modern man to understand the past and the lifestyles of these hunter-gathers.

European Exploration and the arrival of the Settlers

More recent historical records have shown that the first in a steady stream of Europeans to visit the Cape Peninsula was the explorer Bartholomew Dias who set sail from Portugal in 1487 to find a sea route to the riches of the East, rounding the Cape of Good Hope in 1488.

It was a full 10 years later that Vasco da Gama set sail from Portugal, rounded the Cape and reached India, making him the first person to open the sea route from Europe to the East.

Commemorative crosses have been erected to honour Dias and Da Gama at Bordjiesrif and near Platboom, respectively, in the Cape of Good Hope.

In 1652, the Dutchman, Jan van Riebeeck, arrived at Table Bay tasked with establishing a refreshment station for the Dutch East India Company and their ships that sailed the route to the Dutch East Indies. A fort (the Cape of Good Hope Castle) and gardens were established at the foot of Table Mountain. A viticulture industry was initiated and land was granted to settlers to grow crops. And so began European settlement at the Cape.

Heritage Sites within the park

The European settlers left a rich architectural history scattered around the Park such as the Kings Block House on Devil's Peak - an early fort built by the British in 1790 to guard against attack from the south west - and in the deep south, an old farmstead dating back to 1780, has been lovingly restored and is now the TMNP's Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre.

Other sites of interest (but not all) include the lighthouse at Cape Point, the dams on top of Table Mountain, relics from both World Wars, Maclears Beacon (the highest point in the Park) and of course the numerous shipwrecks that litter the coastline. However some of the most fascinating heritage sites date back to the importation of slaves from Malaysia and the east. Among these were prominent holy men whose Kramats are found in the Park, such as those at Oudekraal and Signal Hill.

Probably the most well known heritage site in the Park is Rhodes Estate. Cecil John Rhodes was a powerful and controversial character who could be called the father of conservation on the Cape Peninsula having acquired land spanning the eastern slopes of Table Mountain from Devils Peak to Constantia Nek. On his death, this land was bequeathed to the people of Cape Town and protected from development. This land, with the exception of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, is now managed by TMNP.

For more information on the rich cultural history of Cape Town and the Peninsula please refer to the following museums:

  • Iziko Museums of Cape Town: www.museums.org.za/iziko or call: +27 (0) 21 481 3800
  • District Six Museum call +27 (0) 21 461 8754

Environmental Education Experience

The Table Mountain National Park's Environmental Experience (EE) Programme is primarily aimed at the disadvantaged youth of Cape Town. These youth often live far away from the TMNP and do not have the opportunity to visit the Park often. Much of the future of our conservation efforts hinge on building a love for nature in the hearts and minds of our youth, tomorrow's leaders.

As part of the EE programme youth are able to visit Cape Point, Boulders, Silvermine, Oudekraal and Table Mountain.

Class in the Clouds

Catch a ride in the cable car to the top of Table Mountain into the Class in the Clouds for a Natural Science lesson. Class in the Clouds provides you with the perfect outdoor classroom and a pre-prepared RNCS linked lesson.

Each learner will receive a free Coca-Cola, the guidance of a teacher assistant and a Class in the Clouds certificate. (There will be an extra charge if you travel with the Park bus). It is very important to make your booking at The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway by phoning +27(0) 21 424 0015 or e-mailing Fairuz Abrahams at fairuz@tablemountain.net

Environmental Education Centres

Table Mountain National Park has the following education facilities available for bookings:

Sunbird Centre in Silvermine

An overnight facility, the Sunbird Environmental Awareness Centre is located in the scenic Silvermine River Valley within the Silvermine Section of the TMNP.

Bordjiesrif

Situated inside the Cape of Good Hope section, this facility is open to day visits only.

The People's Trail

This 2-day guided trail starts at Constantia Nek, opposite the Constantia Nek Restaurant, where you will meet a Table Mountain National Park guide. The 2-day 15km hike, begins with a steady hike up the slopes of the Back Table, includes a sleep-over at the People's Hut atop Table Mountain, and ends at Tafelberg Road at the bottom of Platteklip Gorge. Download the People's Trail information brochure

For more information and bookings contact Nolene Mafakala, tel: +27(0) 21 712 2337, fax: +27(0) 21 713 1542, e-mail: nolene.mafakala@sanparks.org

Ibasi Yentaba Yetafile

Table Mountain National Park has two buses, a 60-seater and a 22-seater, that transport children from schools on the Cape Flats to the Park for the day. These excursions are not only recreational but have an educational angle as well.

For more information and bookings contact Nolene Mafakala, tel: +27(0) 21 712 2337, fax: +27(0) 21 713 1542, e-mail: nolene.mafakala@sanparks.org

Teacher Training

To fortify our commitment to educating the youth about the environment, TMNP has developed a curriculum and training programme for teachers. This programme has been endorsed by the Western Cape Education Department and teachers who participate and pass are qualified to do environmental education with their learners in the Park.

Junior Rangers

Download the Junior Rangers 2015 application form.

The TMNP Junior Rangers are a group of youth from all corners of Cape Town that participate in nature conservation training to become well-informed voluntary rangers contributing to the vision and mission of SANParks.

The first cohort of Table Mountain National Park Junior Rangers was chosen at the beginning of 2009. A selection panel consisting of TMNP staff, iKapa Honourary Rangers and TMNP Volunteers chose 40 children out of 200 that applied to be chosen as part of the first TMNP Junior Rangers.

If you would like to become involved with training on sponsoring a child for a year, please also contact Christa Stringer on +27(0) 21 780 9006

For further enquiries please call the People and Conservation Department: Tel. +27 (0) 21 712 2337.

Frequently asked questions:

  • How often do the Junior Rangers meet?
    Once a month meetings in the park, mainly in the Cape of Good Hope section of TMNP. Two weekend camps per year; One in TMNP and one in another National Park.
  • How do we get to the park?
    The park bus provides transportation between specific pick-up points from Mitchell's Plain, the M5 and Main Rd for the above-mentioned meetings.
  • Is this just a one year programme?
    Children will be able to continue with Junior Rangers up to Grade 12.
  • What will this cost per year?
    There is no cost involved.

Volunteers and Friends

The people of Cape Town are passionate about their National Park and as a result there is a vibrant volunteer and friend's community. These devoted citizens give freely of their time in order to assist the Park in a multitude of activities such as alien clearing, fire-fighting, path maintenance, guiding, education and fundraising.

Friends and volunteers differ slightly in that volunteers are directly linked to the Park whereas friends groups are independent associations that interact with the Park but have their own public voice.

Friends groups:

  • Friends of Cape of Good Hope
  • Friends of Silvermine
  • Friends of Vlakkenberg
  • Friends of Tokai
  • Friends of Lions Head

Volunteer groups:

  • Table Mountain Honorary Rangers
  • Cape Point Volunteers
  • Boulders Volunteers
  • People's Trail Volunteer Guides
  • Volunteer Rangers

If you would like to be a volunteer, complete the application form below:

For more information on volunteering in the Park or the various Friends groups please contact:
Volunteer Manager: calpotata.mojapelo@sanparks.org or call +27(0) 21 712 2337

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