Bringing the Tygerberg Hills cannon home

The team, including members of the Friends of Tygerberg Hills, Mech-O-Care, the Cannon Association of South Africa and staff from the Tygerberg Nature Reserve, gathers around the cannon, back home on the top of the Tygerberg Hills.

The original cannon that stood on the Tygerberg Hills in the 1700’s has finally returned home. The cannon was manufactured around 1720 by a Swedish company, and was one of three 12 pounders in the approximately 54 gun system set up and used by The Dutch East India Company.

The cannon was used to call the burghers to arms in the event of an attack on the Colony, and was only used on 5 occasions: the first two were tests prior to the Battle of Muizenberg; then a false alarm and lastly prior to the Battle of Blouberg. The 12-pounder required a kilogram of expensive powder with each firing.

The entire journey of the Tygerberg Hills cannon is not certain, but it is believed that it served time as a fence post on the border of the De Grendel farm. In 1994, it was moved to the entrance of the Parow Municipal Building. At some point, a pedestal was built for the cannon, and it was moved to the pavement on Voortrekker Road, in front of the Municipal buildings.

After much negotiation between the Friends of Tygerberg Hills and various relevant bodies in Cape Town, the Heritage Department of the City of Cape Town kindly agreed to return this valuable commodity to its original site in the Tygerberg.

On Wed, 28 March 2012, in the capable hands of Rob Nash from Mech-O-Care, Gerry de Vries of the Cannon Association of South Africa, as well as members of the Friends of Tygerberg Hills and the Tygerberg Nature Reserve, the cannon was returned to its home on the Tygerberg Hills.

The Friends of Tygerberg Hills have undertaken to restore the cannon if at all possible so that it will once again be fired from the Tygerberg Hill on special occasions.

Special thanks to Bill Wilson and Pearl van Zyl who have spent many months and a great deal of time in sensitive negotiations to get the cannon home. Special thanks also to Rob Nash of Mech-O-Care, who lifted and transported this weighty piece of history with great expertise and care … at no cost whatsoever to the Friends of Tygerberg Hills. We are greatly appreciative. And last, but not least, special thanks to Gerry de Vries of the Cannon Association of South Africa for his expertise and assistance in the relocation of cannons.

For more photographs of the move, take a look at the gallery on our Facebook page.

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Spotted Eagle-Owl

Spotted Eagle Owl adult

Myths and superstition have been the lot of these nocturnal hunters.  Owls have adapted to feeding at night as they have developed acute hearing and their flight feathers are designed to support silent flight for stealthy swoops on their prey.

Our ancestors have feared these birds as harbingers of bad luck.  The ghostly hoots and silent flight sent the shivers up many a spine.  However, these birds are of great benefit to mankind, especially in the control of rodents around human dwellings.

The Spotted Eagle Owl, with its two erect ear tufts, occurs throughout southern Africa and is a well-known sight as they perch on fence posts in rural areas at dusk.  These raptors have forward-facing eyes for accurately judging distance, as opposed to most birds that have eyes on the sides of the head.  Many of these birds have adapted to life in suburban areas and are even known to nest in flowerboxes.  They usually roost in leafy trees or on rocky ledges during the day while they try to escape the attention of small birds that tend to mob them in an attempt to force them to move out of the territory.

These owls are large, about 45 cm tall, and weigh about 700 grams.  The male calls a deep hoo-hoo and the female may respond with hoo-hoohoo.  They feed on a variety of prey items such as large insects, rodents, birds and small reptiles.

Spotted Eagle Owl adult

The nest is usually just a scrape on a rocky ledge, or sometimes on the ground.  No nesting material is gathered.  The clutch consists of two white eggs that take 30 days to hatch.  The chicks are covered in white down and take a further 40 days before leaving the nest.  They are still dependent on their parents for food for about another five weeks.

Many farmers and people living on large plots provide nesting boxes to encourage these birds to breed and hunt on the property.  Eagle-Owls prefer boxes that are open on the sides, and if these boxes are placed in a site that is sheltered from the north-westerly rains, will be seen as prime estate.  If you would like to build your own owl-box then information is available at http://www.birdlife.org.za/stuff/build-your-own-owl-house

Chick

Fledgling

Sub-Adult

Adult

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