Cape Cross

Cape Cross is open daily from 10:00 to 17:00. Permits are obtainable from the office at Cape Cross. Admission fees are payable, which include a fee per vehicle and a fee per person. No accommodation is available, only drinking water and toilets. Pets and motorcycles are not allowed inside the reserve.

The Cape fur seal is the biggest of the nine fur seal species in the world and breeds only on the west coast of southern Africa.
Cape Cross is home to a breeding colony of between 200 000 and 250 000 Cape fur seals. Decreases in fish resources caused by fluctuations in the upwelling system, from time to time results in mass mortalities although their numbers normally recover quickly.  It seems that nature has its own way of keeping the seal populations in check.

The cows give birth in late November and early December after a nine-month gestation period. The bulls, eating an equivalent of eight percent of their body weight each day, weigh approximately 360 kilos when they return in October to establish a harem of 5 to 25 cows each, which they protect fiercely. Within days of giving birth in November/December the cows mate again. Although the period of pregnancy is less than 12 months, pupping takes place exactly a year later as the cow has the ability of delaying implantation of the embryo in the uterus.
Due to all the activity from fighting and mating, many pups are squashed to death by careless movements of the great bulls. The pups also fall prey to scavengers, such as black-backed jackal and brown hyena.

Cape Cross seals have been exploited for their skins and other products since 1895. Today the seal population is controlled by culling and seals are culled at Cape Cross on a controlled and regular basis. Quotas are given every year by the Government for the harvesting of seals, depending on their numbers.