On a visit to Cape Point, you’re almost guaranteed to spot some of its wonderful wildlife. Herds of mighty eland, Cape mountain zebra, and beautifully-marked bontebok antelope roam the grassy pastures. Closer to the coast, you’ll find ostriches along with a large variety of seabirds. There’s even a very special troupe of seafood-foraging baboons.
But, there’s one resident of the park who’s more secretive than the CIA. Unless you know where to look, and what signs to look for, your chances of spotting the charismatically cute but elusive Cape clawless otter are smaller than a sea louse.
That’s where The Otter Man comes in. Terry McCann has been tracking otters in Cape Point for more than 26 years (and, some say, has even started to resemble one). On an early morning or late afternoon stroll around Cape Point, Terry will show you hidden otter hangouts and help you hone your otter sense.
The first thing you’ll learn is that otters have fantastic taste in seaside real estate. Location, evidently, is everything. First, an otter needs solitude, so you’ll have to follow them a little off the beaten path (although fortunately not too far off it). Then, a reliable source of fresh water right next to the sea – a little stream or pool will do. A pleasant patch of sand to roll around in and a good rock to munch a crab on completes the perfect otter property.
With Terry as your guide, you’ll learn to detect suitable fresh water sources, identify otter scat, recognize otter tracks, discover otter slides, peer down otter pathways tunneled through the grass, and get a jolly good whiff of otter smell: a pungent combination of fish and musk that is instantly identifiable and unforgettable.
You’ll also start to appreciate some of the little beauties of the world these otters inhabit: softly swaying kelp forests, neon-coloured anemones, and slowly stalking starfish. In fact, an outing with The Otter Man gives you such an enjoyable window into the world of Cape clawless otters, that you may find you don’t mind if you’re not lucky enough to actually see one. But, if you do, you’ll be one of a select and privileged few.