Thomas Baines Nature Reserve, Eastern Cape
Thomas Baines Nature Reserve lies just 12 kilometres outside of Grahamstown, en route to Port Elizabeth on the N2. It is named after the British artist and explorer of South Africa who painted a wealth of detailed paintings and sketches about colonial life in South Africa and Australia, some of which you can see at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town.
He was based in the Eastern Cape between 1848 and 1853.
The Thomas Baines reserve has been part of the landscape of Grahamstown residents since 1961 when it was first created, and it offers game drives, canoeing, camping on the banks of Settlers Dam in non-powered campsites, bird watching, bass fishing, sailing and hiking.
Animals include the African buffalo, Chacma baboon, common eland and greater kudu. You used to be able to see one, rather tired rhino called Tom - the last of his kind as a reserve like Thomas Baines is wary of keeping rhinos because of the huge security risk. When Tom died recently of old age he was not replaced.
In 1990 the 1024 hectare reserve added the Thomas Baines Goldfields Environmental Education Centre to the reserve, fully equiped for school and youth club outings.
There are over 175 species of birds recorded in the reserve, including a number of different kingfishers, making it a favourite amongst birders. Picnicking on the side of the dam and the 15 kilometres of dirt tracks that pass through the reserve's fynbos and bushveld make it a firm favourite amongst visitors and locals alike.
A recent game auction held at the reserve raised both the reserve's profile and R6.4 million for conservation. The animals came from a number of reserves and wilderness areas in the province and included buffalo, red hartebeest, black wildebeest, giraffe and three white rhino.
Did you know?
For further information concerning bookings of school groups for Environmental Education courses, as well as details relating to the Friends of Thomas Baines Nature Reserve, contact the Eastern Cape Nature Conservation Office on Telephone: +27 (0)46 622-7216.
game and nature reserves in the eastern cape