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Members of the public are urged to keep their dogs on a leash when visiting the Table Bay Nature Reserve. Dogs running off-leash in the Rietvlei wetlands and the coastal section of the Table Bay Nature Reserve not only detracts from the tranquil recreational value of the area, but they have also killed birds and animals in this natural haven. Read more below:


The City of Cape Town has received increasing reports from bird watchers and visitors at the Rietvlei wetlands and the Milnerton coastal dunes of the presence of dogs running off-leash in these protected areas.

These dogs often chase and sometimes kill rare and endangered birds and antelope such as steenbok and grysbok.

‘Although portions of the Table Bay Nature Reserve are designated for dog walking by sign-posted notices, there are no designated free-running dog parks in the nature reserve. We would like to stress that besides for these designated dog walking areas, no dogs are allowed in the Rietvlei wetlands and recreational water area,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Councillor Johan van der Merwe.

Rietvlei is a controlled access area where on-duty visitor controllers ensure that no dogs enter into Rietvlei. Despite these controls, dogs still manage to find their way into Rietvlei from adjacent residential areas such as Table View and Milnerton Ridge.

In terms of the City’s Animal By-law of 2010, dogs may not enter into public spaces where they are prohibited by notice. In designated dog-walking areas, however, dogs must remain under control and on a leash at all times. Dogs may only run off-leash in free-running dog parks that are designated as such by a sign-posted notice.The City’s Law Enforcement officers, supported by biodiversity management staff, have issued numerous fines, ranging from R500 to R2000, to dog owners who do not adhere to the City’s by-laws in the nature reserve.

In addition, as a protected area, proclaimed under the Protected Areas Act, all domestic animals such as dogs and cats that are found in such an area are deemed to be stray and may be removed.

The negative effects of free-running dogs in the nature reserve, apart from the killing of birds and animals, also includes the danger and disturbance to people. If a dog bites a visitor of the nature reserve, potential criminal charges and civil claims for damages could cause more trouble for dog owners.

It is also important to note that natural predators in the nature reserve, such as caracal, Cape fox and Cape clawless otter, could attack and kill pets or spread diseases such as rabies to domestic animals.

‘We urge visitors to the nature reserves to handle their pets and domestic animals responsibly while in public open areas and to report any unaccompanied domestic animals in the Table Bay Nature Reserve to 021 444 0315,’says Councillor Van der Merwe.

Contraventions of the Animal By-Law of 2010 can also be reported to Big Bay Law Enforcement on 021 554 8003.

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