Cape Clawless Otters: Playful and Endearing Creatures of South Africa

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cape clawless otters south africa

Cape clawless otters are one of the most endearing creatures on South Africa’s coastlines. These shy, nocturnal, and diurnal animals, slightly larger than one might expect, are the largest freshwater species after the South American otter. Unfortunately, their population is slowly decreasing, and they were listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2014. However, their playful nature and endearing appearance make them a favorite among locals and tourists.

From St Francis Bay to Robberg Beach: Otters Make A Splash

A recent video shared by Wildly Africa shows at least five Cape clawless otters enjoying a playful swim in the pool of a St Francis Bay home, much to the homeowners’ surprise. As the otters frolicked and swam, one TikTok user commented that they were “living their best lives.” The video has since gone viral, drawing attention to these creatures’ playful and endearing nature.

This is not the first time these adorable Cape clawless otters have been spotted in South Africa. In 2020, a video captured two of these creatures leisurely strolling along Robberg Beach in Plettenberg Bay, seemingly unconcerned by their surroundings. Closer to home, two resident Cape clawless otters have been sighted in Green Point urban park, though few have been fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of them.

A “Wee Dance” for Territory: Marking their Presence

While these otters may appear to be jamming to the rhythms of the Cape, they are marking their territories with a “wee dance.” These territorial creatures have glands that secrete a musky odor, which they use to keep their environments by rubbing their bodies against rocks or vegetation. As a result, the Cape clawless otter can often be found within the streams and estuaries of the South African coast, and their scent can linger for days, marking their presence well after they have moved on.

Interestingly, the world-famous Otter Trail, the oldest hiking trail in South Africa, is named after these cheeky critters. Opened in 1968, the 40-kilometer trail runs along the coastline between the Storms River mouth and Nature’s Valley and is a must-visit for any avid hiker or nature enthusiast.

Admiring from Afar: Conservation and Protection Efforts

Although their cuteness may be tempting, it is recommended that Cape clawless otters be admired from a distance, as they can become aggressive if they feel threatened. As we continue to appreciate and respect these creatures, it is essential to remember that they also need our protection and conservation efforts. Their near-threatened status calls for increased awareness and action toward their conservation.

As we navigate the complexities of conservation and the coexistence of humans and wildlife, it is essential to appreciate and honor the playful and endearing nature of these creatures. Cape clawless otters are a reminder of the natural beauty and charm of South Africa’s coastline and a call to protect and preserve the diverse wildlife that calls it home.

Environmentalist and Outdoor Enthusiast. Amanda is a nature-loving, energetic, and enthusiastic environmentalist who has dedicated her life to exploring and protecting Cape Town's stunning natural landscapes. She is an experienced hiker, wildlife enthusiast, and advocate for sustainable tourism.

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