Celebrating Knysna’s Amazing Biodiversity

With a temperate forest, varied vine species and unique fynbos; Knysna boasts an incredible diversity of habitats. To honour World Environment Day, we collected some snapshots of nature and wildlife in Knysna’s beautiful surroundings – from land and ocean species to breath-taking plant life.

Outeniqua Yellowwood
Afrocarpus falcatus is native to the montane forests of southern Africa and is a protected tree here. Common names include common yellowwood, bastard yellowwood and kalander in Afrikaans. This evergreen conifer can grow up to about 45 meters tall, but has been known to reach 60 m. The trunk can be 2 to 3 m wide. Some of the largest individuals occur in the Knysna-Amatole montane forests, where some specimens are over 1,000 years old.

The Knysna Loerie
The Knysna turaco or, in South Africa, Knysna loerie, resides in the mature evergreen forests and many a garden. This large turaco is an unmistakable bird with its orange-red bill and a white line just under the eye. The loerie’s tall green crest is also tipped with white. Although often inconspicuous while sitting in the treetops, the loerie is usually seen flying between forest trees, or hopping along branches. In contrast with the mainly green plumage, in flight, they show bright red primary flight feathers. It has a loud kow-kow-kow-kow call.

Brenton Blue Butterfly
The only place in the world you will find this little creature is at Brenton-on-Sea, near Knysna. The Brenton Blue breeds only on a specific coastal fynbos plant called Indigofera ercta, which is a member of the pea family. The Brenton Blue is seen only twice a year for three weeks at a time – late February and late October. Confusingly, other small blue butterflies appear at the same time, and only experts can tell the difference.

Knysna Seahorse
The Knysna Seahorse is found in the estuaries of Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Swartvlei. The Knysna variety is slightly bigger and can reach a size of up to 13 cm. Colours range from black through brown and yellow to greywhite and spotted, depending on the individual’s mood. Male seahorses have a ‘pouch’ like female kangaroos. The male seahorse gives birth to offspring – the female lays her eggs in the male’s pouch and when they are ready, the babies hatch out of the pouch into the water! The Knysna seahorse is the only endangered species, threatened both by pollution and its unique beauty.

Oystercatcher
Unmistakable with its jet-black body, pink legs and bright orange-red bill and eyes. Oystercatchers have strong, dagger-like beaks that enable them to feed on mussels, limpets and worms. They rarely eat oysters! The African black oystercatcher mates for life and some pairs have been known to live together for up to 20 years.

Proteas
This South African flowering plant is sometimes also called sugarbush (Afrikaans: suikerbos) or fynbos. Protea Flowers come in many shapes and forms and therefore this flower symbolizes diversity, courage and strength. The genus Protea was named after the Greek god Proteus, who could change his form at will. The king protea has been South Africa’s national flower since 1976. The protea was chosen as it symbolises SA’s beauty.