21 November 2011

Intaka Island - Bird Sanctuary


Who would expect to find nesting birds in the middle of a huge housing/office and shopping development such as Century City, Cape Town? It's a gem of a spot within it's urban boundaries and boasts both educational and recreational purposes for the many persons living within Century City as well as being a safe haven for many birds such as White Breasted Cormorant, Reed Cormorant, Winged Stilt, Red Knobbed Coot, Malachite Kingfisher and Blacksmith Plover. 

This 16ha wetland, is named Intaka Island which, fittingly, means "Bird" in Xhosa. The first man-made heronies were built to encourage birds to return to the wetlands and the pans which has been disturbed by all the construction on the site. Old dead trees were used and slowly birds settled and started breeding.Tons of guano have been harvested and put to good use over the years!  

Storm Water drainage was a problem in a development this size and the canals and ponds were created to manage this. The canal water is polished through a series of ponds and filtration systems which ensure clean water which is, supposedly, also totally mosquito free. This is a great boon for those lucky enough to live beside a canal! The entire irrigation system uses non-potable water.

One can take a boat ride from Canal Walk, the shopping Centre, to Intaka Island and back again.
Residents and Non-residents may also paddle along the canals for a nominal annual fee.

You can walk the trail on Intaka by yourself or request a guide - we were lucky to enjoy the services of Themba who was a mine of useful information and extremely passionate about his job.

He explained the intricacies of the water filtration system in great detail. There are many residential units at Century City, hundreds of businesses and the massive Canal Walk Shopping Centre. It's quite an amazing feat that the developers were able to successfully include the wetlands for the continued breeding by various bird species as well as have the leisure activity of the canals.

Century City is also home to South Africa's "Greenest" Building to date.
Aurecon has been awarded a 5 Star Green Star SA - Office design v1 rating. This office block overlooks Intaka Island - magnificent working outlook for those lucky enough to work there!

So when you next visit Canal Walk for that shopping trip, perhaps take a detour to Intaka Island to view the bird life living in close harmony within the urban jungle!

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