Winter Season - Cape Town Alive
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June 12. 2004 #issue 05
The Destination Marketing Organisation
Table Mountain tahrs
Great White Sharks - by Geoff Fairman
In the News
Hi <> Hello Again from Cape Town and welcome to the latest edition of the Cape Town eBulletin. A special welcome to you if you are a new subscriber!
Capetonians are experiencing the first cold temperatures of the season as the winter season settles in slowly but surely. The first of the expected winter rains have fallen and farmers have had welcome relief from a prolonged drought, but there's a long way to go..
Certainly a good time of the year to appreciate the scenic wonders of the Cape. Many tourists and locals have made the most of the warm and clear unseasonal conditions and have frequented the uncrowded beaches, the rugged Cape countryside and the colorful winelands. The autumn colors are a particularly popular attraction.
A lot more rain is needed however if the farmers are going to be harvesting reasonable crops; Cape Town's rainfall so far this year, to the detriment of many trying to make a living from the land, has been way below average. The local dams are way below normal levels for this time of year.
It has been obvious over the years that Cape Town weather has been getting progressively warmer. The effect is seen when plants flower earlier than usual and rains are late. Some feel that this is an indication of long term climatic changes. A disturbing prospect.
A century or so ago Cape Town was a lot colder and wetter, and often experienced gale force winds at this time of year. Excess carbon dioxide creates a greenhouse effect, and the resulting diminishing of the ozone layer has been blamed for general climatic changes. Unfortunately we must live with it.. Whatever we do, it can't be reversed.
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The Destination Marketing Organisation
The City's Destination Marketing Organisation Formerly known as the Cape Town Tourism and Events Company is set to rule the roost in Cape Town tourism marketing, as its bureaucratic influence and control is firmly entrenched in what has been seen as a controversial move to take over the local tourism function and market the Cape Province as an umbrella body.
The highly successful and independent Cape Town Tourism (CTT) under the guiding influence of Sheryl Ozinsky, initially agreed to support the formation of the DMO on condition that the City would continue to fund them, but the funding has since been withdrawn.
The 1200 members of CTT were given the opportunity to maintain their independence by providing funding themselves, but the board's resolve has since been to amalgamate into the DMO.
Sheryl Ozinsky, who has since tendered her resignation, has always been recognised as one of the leaders in promoting Cape Town to the world. Now the staff members of CTT are being handed the choice of becoming a component of DMO by voting for the resolve, or finding themselves out on a limb. CTT board members would have to resign their director positions and make themslves available for nomination to positions in a component of DMO known as the Cape Town Visitor Services Association (CTVSA)
The CTT brand will be changed as determined by CTVSA. Members opting to remain independent will run CTT as a commercial entreprise and be responsible for funding themselves as well as cover shortfalls in expenditure. This scenario is not seen a viable long term financial prospect, and CTT's members are finding themselves with no workable solution other than voting to become a part of DMO.
Table Mountain Tahrs
The elusive alien tahrs have been in the news again since the recent announcement by SA National Parks that they would begin to cull the animals in the interests of preserving the indigenous environment.
The estimated 150 Himalayan tahrs on table Mountain descended from a single pair that escaped from a Woodstock zoo in 1937.
Despite protests in various quarters and organisations such as the SPCA and Friends of the Tahr, the culling has progressed in a humane manner by sharpshooters imported from other provinces. Over 100 tahrs have since been shot and the operation has been curtailed until after the winter season.
Quite simply, no other workable solution could be applied to the problem of the ever increasing tahr population, which thrives in often inaccessible regions on the Table Mountain range. The culling operation is being carried out in terms of government legislation.
Great White Sharks - by Geoff Fairman
Of late sharks have been in the news quite regularly here in Cape Town.
A number of incidents have brought them to the attention of the media and in certain instances have brought the wrath of the public down on persons who conduct tours to dive with sharks.
Over the past few weeks we have had two attacks in False Bay.
People feel that the attacks were carried out by the same Great White shark.
The first attack was on a surfer who was surfing near Muizenberg corner.
The shark attacked him from below and bit off a part of his leg and broke his surf board in half.
After medical treatment on the beach the doctor attending the boy declared him dead.
He was taken to hospital and en route made a remarkable recovery and his life was saved.
A few weeks after this attack some fishermen from Kalk Bay were fishing off Strandfontein on the False Bay coastline when at about 10.00 pm there was a sudden noise in the sea next to the boat and a 4 – 5 metre shark shot out of the water and launched itself at one of the fishermen sitting near the stern of the boat.
Fortunately the man saw the shark flying towards him and he managed to dive for safety into a bait bin.
The shark flew over where he was sitting and hit the boat with its tail as it landed back in the water on the other side.
The fishermen were badly spooked and immediately pulled up their anchor and made for harbour.
It's incidents such as the above that are causing grief for shark diving operators here in the Cape.
Seal Island is home to the seals in False Bay and as seals are the natural prey of the Great White sharks they attract sharks to the area.
With the increase in tourism here in Cape Town diving has become an important tourist attraction.
Many operators have purchased boats and special cages to give visitors the chance to dive with these predators of the deep.
The only problem however is that sharks do not stay where you last saw them and arriving with a boat full of tourists and not seeing sharks could be a major embarrasment to the tour operator.
Shark operators need to attract the sharks and the only way to do this is to chum (throw bits and pieces of dead fish and blood into the water).
This attracts sharks in their droves and gives the tourist a view of these large predators of the sea.
To make the trip even more memorable the tour operators allow their visitors to dive with the sharks.
They provide cages which are thrown over the side of the boats and then divers enter them and are lowered a couple of metres below the surface.
From here they can watch the sharks in relative safety.
Sometimes they have close calls when the the sharks make attempts to get into the cages.
It must be really terrifying to see a Great White swimming towards you with its mouth full of razor sharp teeth.
Fortunately there have not yet been any mishaps and people are normally returned to the beaches in safety.
There are a number of areas around the Cape where shark diving takes place.
One of the most popular is Gansbaai where tourists are taken out to Dyer Island, the home of the largest concentration of Great Whites in South Africa.
Gansbaai is a village on the south coast of South Africa.
Tours leave Cape Town early and when you arrive you are given breakfast at one of the local restaurants before being taken out to Dyer island for the shark viewing.
The best time for viewing sharks near Dyer Island is from June till October when there is a success rate of about 95% of seeing sharks from the boats.
On average on any given day you have a chance of spotting between 3 to 8 different shark species with most of them ranging between three to four and half metres in length.
As I have told my readers before I am not the bravest when it comes to large sharks, in fact a small fish seen through a diving mask is scary for me so you are not likely to find me out on the ocean wave chasing these large animals.
For those who love a thrill, Cape Town is the place to visit.
Visit Geoff Fairman's website and subscribe to his newsletter. Don't miss Geoff's interesting articles. See his colorful pictures of Cape Town and surrounding areas. Turtle Essays
In the News
The Olympic torch is in Cape Town and the festivities have begun. See my news page Cape Town News
That's all from me for now <>.
Speak to you next month.
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