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“You win some, you lose some”. On the Rooiberg trip I was hoping to see Anderbergia rooibergensis and I thought I had. Jan Vlok has this to say, “Nee dis nie ‘n Anderbergia nie. Ek is redelik seker dit val in die Athanasia groep, in welke geval dit tien-teen-een iets nuuts is.” So I lost the Anderbergia and gained a sp. nova
On Wednesday WAGS walked the Doringrivier Circuit. I have done this hike dozens of times. On Wednesday I noticed the dwarf subsp. form of Crassula ruperstris subsp. marnierana for the first time. It was at Breakfast Rock, just where the jeep track turns into a mountain path. It was so exciting. This is thanks to Nicky, who posted it on iSpot a couple of days ago and alerted me to the presence of the plant. She found it in a totally different locality.
On Friday we went to Camferskloof. Jeff Blackburn of Burnsleigh had assured me that the drift was drivable and indeed it was. The Bus fairly sailed across the river. We hunted up and down the firebreak for Disa spathulata subsp. tripartita, but after a while gave it up. We walked west and suddenly there it was, in company with Satyrium pumilum (LC). We are not sure of the subsp. of Disa spathulata, but are presuming that it is tripartita. We will confirm this on iSpot. I have never seen the Satyrium before.
Our destination was the top of the jeep track that heads east. This is where we found the Psoralea sp. nova, which was confirmed by Prof. Charles Stirton. It is fine fettle and there are a number of plants in this area. It is probably fairly widespread in this amazing valley, but we still have to confirm that.
This morning we are going out to count the Gladiolus fourcadei plants. They grow on the Garden Route Development site and both houses and a road are planned in this area. We are hoping that we can change this, so that the plants have a chance of survival. Currently, the Gladiolus is Redlisted as Critically Endangered. There will be about 12 of us. The entire Outramps Group will be there, as well as Ken Coetzee and Marion Shaaf of Sharples Environmental Services. At the moment the mist is on the deck, which will make finding the plants a little more difficult. Visibility is very poor, so we are hoping it will lift.
The weather forecast for Friday is “iffy”, but Jean is keen to visit the Herolds Bay Cliff path to see some Athanasias. There’s always a chance of seeing interesting plants in this area, so it seems a good choice for this week’s field trip.
Dankie en groete
Outramps CREW Group – Southern Cape
Kindly Submitted by Roland Scholtz
During the month of July, Roland and Stefan checked 33 recreational fishing and bait collecting permits and one commercial oyster harvesters permit. Of the 33 permits checked, only one angler had an expired permit. He was issued a friendly warning. On the 3rd, Marcel and Stefan where clearing Manatoka trees in the Misgunst dunes, when a suspicious fishing vessel in Visbaai caught their attention. They walked on to the large dune and watched the vessel for a while. The vessel circled an area and then started dropping a net. The student rangers contacted Roland and he drove to the Fransmanshoek Peninsula to get a better look. After confirming it was a net, he contacted the Department of Fisheries in Cape Town who are able to identify and contact any vessel within South Africa’s EEZ. Roland knows that only demersal (bottom) trawling is not allowed within the bays, and wanted to make sure that the vessel was pelagic trawling and not demersal trawling. The Department replied that the boat was a pelagic trawler and may be in the area. Pelagic trawlers follow shoals of sardines and anchovies along the coastline, upon locating the shoals they encircle the shoals of fish with their nets and remove the fish from the upper column of water. Pelagic trawlers can be identified by their circular trawling motion, while demersal trawlers conduct a series of trawl paths, generally in a relative straight line kicking up huge clouds of sediment in the water behind them. Demersal trawling vessels are not allowed to put out nets inshore between Mossel Bay point and Cape Vacca point. We urge any member of the public to contact us if they see vessels putting out nets within Visbaai or Vleesbaai.
On the 20th , Roland was called out by Riekie van Rensburg who had spotted a large number of commercial oyster harvesters near Snuifklip (Fransmanshoek Peninsula). Roland reacted immediately by driving to the scene and phoning fisheries for backup. Roland observed the harvesters, while waiting for Fisheries to arrive. Upon Fisheries arrival they explained to Roland that each commercial oyster harvester needs to notify the Dept. of Fisheries where they will be harvesting, and that it recently emerged that no carriers may accompany the commercial license holders during the harvesting operation. This is an old trick by commercial harvesters, a carrier comes along, but actually assists in the removal of oysters, increasing the total catch for the day.
On this particular morning, the harvesters had brought three carriers with them, while only two were caught and photographed harvesting illegally. These two were fined and their catch confiscated to be used as evidence. The good news with this bust and future busts, is that the Dept. of Fisheries has decided to take into consideration any illegal events related to each commercial operator when considering the re-issuing of their permit next year. This means that if a legal commercial oyster harvester has been involved in any illegal activity, and not complied to the permit conditions, his commercial operating license for next year could be taken away from him.
On the 19th and 20th Siemen Oestmo and Jake Harris from The Institute of Human Origins (Arizona State University) came to Fransmanshoek to do preliminary mapping and surveying of prehistoric land surfaces known as paleosols and active cobble beaches in the Misgunst dune system. These land surfaces are known as paleosols. The aim behind mapping these prehistoric land surfaces is to contribute information toward the creation of a simulated ecological model of the area over the last 150 thousand years and forms part of the project at the Pinnacle Point Caves. One of the student rangers, Marcel, guided the two archeologists through the fore dunes of the Misgunst dune system. At each location where paleosols or cobble beaches were exposed data sheets were filled in. The characteristics of the these areas were documented and a GPS point was taken. The main focus of Siemens’ research is on the se exposed paleosols. These ancient soil remnants have been preserved under a deposited layer of calcrete and most of the two days was spent documenting these exposures. The surface area of these exposures was worked out using a very accurate GPS.
Then at least an hour was spent scanning the ground for evidence of Middle Stone Age artifacts. Jake who joined Siemen, as a field assistant, was scouting for signs of stone tool markings on fossilized bone, as such information could be vital for determining what species of animals early man hunted or scavenged from. Most of the bones found were covered with animal markings but at least two clear examples which had stone tool markings were found. Next year Siemen will be returning to map the paleosols more accurately and collect specifics on the stone tools that are found on them. Siemen also plans on accurately dating these prehistoric land surfaces. The rangers look forward to being able to assist Siemen when he returns.
An exposed paleosol on the Misgunst Dunes nearby Turtle On the 16 th , Elrize Small from Vleesbaai Dienste, contacted Roland regarding a baby turtle that she had picked up whilst walking along the beach between Vleesbaai and Boggomsbaai. Roland collected the turtle from the office and delivered it to the Aquarium in Mossel Bay. Here the baby Loggerhead Turtle will be rehabilitated and dropped off shore. During Spring and Summer a lot more turtles get stranded, specifically after strong easterly winds which have blown for a few days. If anyone comes across baby turtles while walking on the beach, please take them to the Aquarium in Mossel Bay.
Over the past few months there have been inquires from people as to where owl boxes can be bought. The rangers could not find a supplier. So when the Boggomsbaai golf course contacted Roland to ask for advice about the control of Gerbils (Nagmuise), that dig holes throughout the course, the rangers decided to build some owl boxes themselves. The two most common species of owl are, the Barn owl (Tyto alba) and the Spotted Eagle owl (Bubo Africanus). Each of these species has different nesting requirements. The Barn owl nests in holes in trees or embankments, where the Eagle owl will select a site that is open, like a nook of a tree. The owl box design needs to simulate the characteristics of a naturally occurring nest site.
Encouraging owls to nest in an area will help to control the population of Gerbils and other rodents to some degree. Having owl boxes near ones residence is also a great way to learn more about these beautiful predators. Barn owls will use a box all year round and breed when their prey is plentiful. Their offspring numbers can also be closely correlated to prey availability. The Eagle owl will only use the box for breeding from July to January. It is a good idea to line the Eagle owl boxes with some pine needles just before breeding season, this will improve the chances of an Eagle owl moving in. If the Owl boxes are put up in an area with low vegetation, putting up hunting perches is another way of enticing owls into the area. Other birds of prey will start to use these perches too and may also use the owl boxes as well. The Conservancy will be selling Owl boxes for R200-00/box, for more information on the Owl boxes or there placement please contact Roland.
Estuary Research Netting
On the 5th , Stefan joined the research division of the Dept of Fisheries for their winter monitoring on the Kleinbrak river. It was a freezing morning deep into one of the coldest winters the area has experienced in a while. Not ideal weather for being in and out of the water and mostly wet the whole day. Nevertheless, the group set off, pulling a number of trek (purse-seine) net samples at various localities throughout the river, from the mouth to far up stream until where the boats can no longer reach. On the 9th in slightly better weather, Roland and Marcel joined the crew for the Gouritz leg of the monitoring. The monitoring is repeated every year, twice a year throughout various estuaries around the country. Amongst the outcomes of the monitoring is whether certain fish species: are expanding their range, range is declining, range is shifting, numbers are increasing and whether numbers are declining
Catch and effort data can also be drawn out of the monitoring as the method of catching the fish is standardized and doesn’t change. Abiotic factors are also measured at each estuary, including water depth, water temperature, turbidity and salinity. This is always a nice outing for the rangers and even though it normally ends up being quite a long day of hard work, pulling nets and measuring thousands of small fish, interesting things are seen and a lot is learnt. Above: Roland and two crew members on the research boat
On the 25th , the Outramps visited the Vleesbaai surrounds for the second time, to explore a different section of indigenous renosterveld and thicket searching for red listed plants. This time Roland took them to Ouland, on a section of Johan ‘Coke’ Mullers farm that borders the Buffelsfontein river. The ‘CREW’ decided to walk a loop from Jurie’s (Johan’s son) house, down a toe, into the valley and back up to the plateau and home. Interesting finds on the way included Haworthia chloracantha var. denticulifera, Gasteria carinata var. carinata and Veltheimia capensis.
For More Information please contact : STEFAN OOSTHUIZEN / MARCEL VAN ZYL / ROLAND SCHOLTZ
082 084 2791
Rose Valley Arbor Week – Kindly submitted by Susan Botha
Our area is very privileged – we have a dedicated group of volunteers who assist with various “just-do-it” activities.
Whilst participating in the Environment Day as well as the Mandela Day activities, they felt that the Arbor Day Event should take place in Rose Valley, a new settlement with quite a lot of challenges.
In planning the event though, and pulling on all the relevant partners, we had to deviate from this plan, as the municipality indicated that the town lay-out will change in about two year’s time. This will mean that any tree that is planted now, will have to be bulldozed in two year’s time to make way for roads or other planned infrastructure.
We therefore decided to move the event to one of the partners – the St Luigi kloof. This kloof is adjacent to a trouble community, and it is extremely dirty, with various kinds of challenges that an unhygienic open space opens itself up to.
Various planning meetings were held, with the following main partners to the event:
St Luigi / CapeNature / Oudtshoorn Municipality / Eden District Municipality / DAFF (Dept Agric Forestry Fisheries) / GCIS (Government Communications) / CapeNature volunteers / Boshoff Boumateriale /Van den Bergh Vervoer / KKI (Klein Karoo International)
Because the kloof was in serious need for clean-up, it was decided to host a “clean-up” event prior to the Arbor Day event, in order to give partners the opportunity to participate in making the kloof somewhat better. The partners got together in sharing various resources for this clean-up event.
A group of about 150 people gathered in the morning at the Scrosoppi After Centre for a quick cup of coffee before the clean-up started. Klein Karoo International provided gloves, Boshoff Boumateriale provided spades and rakes, Eden District Municipality the food and the Oudtshoorn municipality provided black bags, other tools and machinery – were were all set to go! Two CapeNature contractor teams, consisting of 24 people each, also participated in this clean-up.
The spirit of the people participating in this activity was generally positive. A small challenge was experienced by the CapeNature contractor teams, but this was soon sorted out.
After cleaning up the kloof in the morning, everyone got together for a hotdog, some bread and a juice, prepared by the volunteers at Scrosoppi.
Di Turner – “We have had lots of exciting trips this year. But “top of the pops” must go to the Rooiberg/ Bailey’s Peak traverse that we did last week. It stands out as one of the most memorable trips I’ve done for years.
It was exceptional for lots of reasons. But let’s start with the people. Tom, the Gamkaberg rangers team, Brenda and Zandile (students) and Lize and Rudi von Staden (Threatened Plant Programme’s Red list and CREW). The Outramps and Outramps appies cannot say thank you enough to all of you. Tom, Johnny, Willem and Skhumbuzo put together a wonderful trip for us. It was the experience of a lifetime.
On Tuesday we explored the southern side of the Rooiberg Pass. Although I know exactly where it grows, I could not find that wretched Metalasia tricolor. I’m hoping that it proved so elusive because it is past its flowering time, otherwise I’m losing it. Leucospermum pluridens (Near Threatened) is alive and well. On the northern side we found a few leftover Paranomus roodebergensis (Rare) in the burn. Lower down we spotted Lotononis dahlgrenii (Vulnerable} and we did a short sortie up Waterkloof at the bottom of the Pass to find Anisothrix integra (Rare) flowering.
Early on Wednesday morning we set off for the top of the Rooiberg Pass. We drove in a few kilometres and then started our walk. Leucadendron tinctum (Near Threatened) was stunning. We plotted Leucadendron sp. nova (Tony Rebelo). In the good old Protea Atlas days we plotted it as Leucadendron eucalyptifolium. Tony thinks it’s a new species. The most exciting find of the day was hopefully Anderbergia rooibergensis (Critically Rare), which we found on a damp south-facing cutting. We will ask Annelise to have a look at this one, to confirm the id. We all scrambled to the summit of Rooiberg and then set off for the Hut, which was another 3kms away. The scenery was spectacular and very exciting as this was totally new ground for me and the Group. At the Hut, we found stretchers, camp chairs and wood waiting for us. This was another example of the care and organisation that went into the trip from the Gamkaberg team. It was a great evening, giving us a chance to get to know everyone better.
Once again, there was an early start on Thursday morning. Swirling mist and strong wind was a little daunting, but the mist soon lifted and we had a cloudy, but dry day. Once again the scenery was breathtaking. Along the way there was an Aspalathus that we didn’t recognise, an Arctotis that we’ll be sending to Dr Robert McKenzie, an attractive plant that I can’t put to a Family and a very interesting Agathosma. We also saw the Leucadendron that Jan thinks is a new species. In about 1995. we plotted it as Leucadendron album. Looking at it closely, there are striking differences. After reaching the summit of Bailey’s Peak, it was time to join up with the trusty Landcruiser once again. I was the lucky one who got to sit in the front with Johnny, who gave me an excellent tutorial on 4×4 driving. The rest of the party were crowded in the back and had a very interesting and fun ride back to Gamkaberg.
On Friday morning we said our goodbyes and thanks to the Gamkaberg team and headed for the Poort just west of the Spa. We were hoping to find Crassula badpoortensis. This proved elusive as we slogged up a dry and dusty slope. I have a sinking feeling that it’s going to turn into another Metalasia tricolor saga. But, “you win some, you lose some” and a little consolation prize, was our discovery of Moraea lilacina (Endangered). This is a first for the Outramps. So honour satisfied, we returned home a little weary, but exultant.
Meanwhile back home, the rest of the Outramps were beavering away. I include Ashleigh’s report.”
“This week the Outramps that weren’t away decided that very “local is lekker” and explored Bergplaas just behind Hoekwil on the southern slopes of the Outeniquas. Although we set out with quite a substantial list, the only two Red listed species with status that we did find were Cyclopia subternata (now declining) and Indigofera sp. 19 (which we have found previously at Windmeulnek).
It was a very pleasant walk on well maintained plantation roads with spectacular views over Hoekwil towards to the sea. Despite the regular, but scattered occurrence of all the usual alien invading species, the familiar fynbos was looking very healthy. We did find an extraordinarily large variety of Erica species with a couple that will no doubt keep some of us busy this weekend trying to put a name to a face. The various peas are also looking particularly beautiful at the moment lighting up the fynbos with their yellows, russets, purples and pinks. One Aspalathus was so attractive it even made the most sceptical of this genera’s beauty intrigued.
”I have now a mountain of admin to do. There are at least 14 site sheets for the Rooiberg trip and various id’s that need sorting. Rain is forecast for Friday, but we may be able to fit in a trip to Camferskloof. We would love to see Disa spathulata in flower. Does anyone know whether the access to Burnsleigh has been repaired? For the rest, I’ll be kept a bit quieter, because Bill has his hip replacement on Wednesday. But in a couple of weeks, we’ll be off again, as the frenetic pace of the Spring field trips gathers momentum once more.
Groete en dankie
Outramps CREW Group
International groups opposed to fracking, in the USA, Europe and Australia, have rallied in support of the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) in their fight to prevent the government from giving fracking in South Africa the green light.
“The support we have received locally and internationally since the government lifted the moratorium on fracking in South Africa on Friday (September 7) has been overwhelming,” said Jonathan Deal, Chairman of TKAG.
“It is clear that there is widespread abhorrence to this environmentally harmful, potentially polluting form of mining,” he added.
“The harm done by fracking is potentially irreversible – having a negative impact on the environment, affects the health of local communities, and does not deliver sustainably on the promises of job creation, community upliftment and energy provision as claimed by mining companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell, who despite their overt concern with ‘what is good for SA’, are only keen on growing profit,” he said.
International groups which have promised their support to TKAG include Food & Water Watch, FrackAction, Waterdefense, Attac International and Attac France, Artists Against Fracking USA, anti-fracking activists Mark Ruffalo and Josh Fox – producer of the film, Gasland, Fracking Ireland and Lock-the-Gate in Australia. Locally, TKAG is part of a strategic alliance of established NGO’s, including KZN based African Conservation Trust. Deal confirmed that TKAG had significantly also received a vote of support from the Southern Cape Land Committee (SCLC). “The SCLC is a local organisation representing the interests of rural communities. They have been independently outspoken about their opposition to fracking in South Africa.” Fracking opponents in SA are planning a national demonstration in front of Parliament on Saturday September 22nd – Global Anti-Fracking Day.
Fracking has been banned or restricted in 155 jurisdictions throughout the world.
The South African Cabinet announced on Friday that it had decided to lift the moratorium on fracking in the Karoo. The moratorium was endorsed by the SA cabinet in April 2011, followed by the appointment of a task team by minister Shabangu with the purpose of investigating fracking. She announced that the task team would focus, in particular, on the feasibility of fracking as well as its likely impact on the environment.
Since that time the task team has met in total secrecy and consistently refused to make it’s composition or findings public. On Friday, September 7th, Cabinet also apparently requested the mineral resources minister to “hold a series of public consultations with interested and affected stakeholders to provide further details”.
Meanwhile, the Treasure Karoo Action Group has pledged to take the fight to oppose fracking in South Africa to the constitutional court.
“Our research, as well as a legal-scientific review of the environmental management plans (EMP’s) of the three current applicants (Royal Dutch Shell, Bundu and Falcon) has revealed fatal flaws.”
“These flaws mean that the plans of the applicants are at odds with various South African laws and regulations as well as the Constitution of the country.
In addition to this, the internationally critical reputation of fracking, and the rejection of the destructive polluting technology by tens of millions of people in other countries has never been dealt with by our government (despite formal notification of these facts to our cabinet by TKAG) nor by any of the applicants to mine for shale gas in SA”, said Deal.
“It is our conviction that there are other less harmful and more sustainable means – including solar – to create jobs, generate energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A sensible approach now will pay dividends for the future children of this country and enable them to meet their needs.” said Deal.
“We do not have to sacrifice our heath, well being and environment in the short term to line the pockets of foreign oil companies.”
“We simply cannot allow this threat to our water resources, our environment and the health of our communities to be carried out and we will take this fight to the highest court.”
Issued by HWB Communications on Behalf of the Treasure Action Karoo Group
for more information please call:
TKAG Chairman: Jonathan Deal: 076 838 5150
HWB: Communications: Evelyn Holtzhausen: 082 658 6007
The Pinnacle Point Man is a name given to a group of Homo sapiens believed to have lived in a cave at Pinnacle Point 164,000 years ago. This cave is near Mosselbaai/Mossel Bay on the south coast South Africa. Discoveries in the cave show that these early humans were able to work with haematite pieces, and used ochre to paint their bodies.. The discovery challenges the widely held belief that modern human behaviour began only 45,000 years ago. It also challenges the view that this behaviour was reached through a “large cultural leap”
Because the African climate became cool and dry, the food resources were reduced dramatically. This was the reason why the Pinnacle Point man moved to the shores. There, they could eat marine creatures like mussels, snails and crabs. These men also used amazing subtly tools. Microliths were mounted on wood shafts.
The startling discovery was made in 2007 by an international team, including the palaeoanthropologist Curtis Marean from the Institute of Human Origins of the Arizona State University and three graduate students of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. They came to the conclusion that humans living in the cave started to eat new foods. They added shellfish and other marine resources to their diet. The cause for this evolution was the climate change. It is the first evidence that mankind was able to this. The report in the magazine Nature also reports that the evidence for using coloured pigments was also found. This is much earlier than the earliest known usage which had been from 70,000 years ago.
The findings give rise to the assumption that living near coast has caused the changes.
The evidence shows that Homo sapiens evolved in Africa 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. At that time, the world was in an ice age, and Africa was a desert. But as archaeologica sites dating to that time period are rare in Africa, palaeonthologist Curtis Marean looked at different information. He studied geologic formations, the sea currents, climate data and much more. As a result, he was able to pinpoint his research to destinations like the Pinnacle Point cave, where the findings have been made.
Once when we were staying in Prince Albert, I climbed up a steep krans in the Swartberg and, tired and a little scared, found myself a resting spot under a shady overhang. I sat down and drank from my water bottle, and, when I’d caught my breath, looked around – and there they were: hundreds of little finger daubings on the rock face in the deepest part of the cave.
San rock art.
It’s been a while now, and I’ve never followed up on the meaning of those age-old paintings, but, with the arrival of ‘Water, Stone and Legend – Rock Art of the Klein Karoo’ by Renée Rusts and Jan van der Poll, I’m finally out of excuses.
Published by Struik Travel and Heritage, this 128 page book offers more than just a record of beautiful pictures of mysterious paintings – it links the past with the present, and thereby presents a powerful argument for the conservation and preservation of the unique art galleries of the ancient Karoo.
Birds and Birding in Eden District. The Eden District municipal region, including both the Garden Route and the Klein Karoo is internationally renowned as a top tourist destination. In addition to spectacular land- and seascapes, impressive indigenous forests, stupendous mountain passes, a variety of lakes and estuaries, the tourist can visit the Kango caves, and ostrich farms of the area. Large sections of this municipal area have been declared as National Parks, and the region features many provincial and privately owned nature reserves and conservation areas, supported by an excellent tourism infrastructure.
Visitors to the region are often unaware of the vast diversity of bird species to be found in the region, which is mainly due to the different habitats of the area. Cape Floral Kingdom habitats host sought-after endemic species such as Cape Rock-jumper, Protea Seedeater, Cape Siskin, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Victorin’s Warbler. The Garden Route is perhaps best known for its extensive indigenous forest habitats. Visitors can look for special species such as Knysna Turaco, Narina Trogon, Knysna Warbler and Knysna Woodpecker. The region is also known for its many lagoons and estuaries where a variety of exciting waterfowl and migratory waders can be found. Resident waterfowl along these wetlands can include Pied Avocet, Baillon’s Crake, African Black Duck, all three grebes, Southern Pochard, African Rail and Cape Shoveler. Migratory waders include Common Ringed and Grey Plovers, Curlew, Marsh, Pectoral and Wood Sandpipers, Little Stint and Ruff. The Klein Karoo, on the other hand, adds a range of species normally associated with Karoo habitats to the Eden region’s impressive list of birds. Here we find species such as Kori and Ludwig’s Bustards, Karoo and Sickle-winged Chats, and Karoo, Karoo-longbilled and Large-billed Larks. To add to this, several vagrant species, or species not normally associated with the Western Cape Province, arrive in the Eden region causing great excitement among local birders. Here recent sightings of Sooty Falcon, Hudsonian Godwit, Red and Red-necked Phalaropes and Palm-nut Vulture serve as excellent examples. The diversity is simply overwhelming!
This birding brochure, developed by Anton Odendal on behalf of BirdLife Overberg and sponsored by WESGRO, serves as an introductory overview to assist visitors in locating some of the most popular birds of the region, and describes locations where they may be found. The reference numbers on the map are reflected in both the text and index. GPS reference points, together with the contact details of local tourism offices are also provided. The text should be seen as a starting point to be used against the backdrop of the website. More comprehensive descriptions, together with trip reports will regularly be updated on the Garden Route and Klein Karoo web pages on www.westerncapebirding.co.za
On Tuesday, 8 of us left at the crack of dawn for Riversdale. It was a mixture of Outramps and some newly-recruited “intrepids” who are going to help us to search the high peaks for desperately threatened plants. We hiked up to the base of the kloof where Erica ixanthera grows and scratched around the rocks with no success. It is early and she isn’t in flower. We may come back in Oct/Nov when it should be easier to find the Erica. The Erica is listed as Vulnerable. But this whole site is being attacked by escapee pines and Wattle. It is very difficult to see how the plant is going to survive in the longgterm. I think the Threat status should be increased, but we will reportback on that later in the year. We walked to Rooiwatersruit at a leisurely pace. We were delighted to find new mattresses in the Hut and a brand new toilet. Thanks for the help given us by Shagon Carelse of Hessequa Municipality. It was invaluable. We spent the afternoon on the plains to the west of the Huts. Erica melanthera grew in sheets of pink, interspersed with the gold of Leucadendron eucalyptifolium. It was spectacular. At first light the next morning, we headed off for the long hike from Rooiwaterspruit to Ou Tol via the Sleeping Beauty summit. Most of the path had been recently cleared and it was wonderful going on the relentless uphill to the base of Sleeping Beauty. The stretch that zigzags up to the contour path was uncleared and a real battle, underlining the pleasure of walking on paths that are not overgrown. The summit is really the “cherry on the top”. Growing there and very much alive and well, was Erica dysantha. She wasn’t flowering yet, but we have learnt to recognise the leaves. This is another plant that requires an upgrade to the threat status. It is only known from 2 localities about 6kms apart. 2 Fires in quick succession could catapult it into extinction. Towards the end of the year, we are hoping that the “intrepids” will help us explore all the surrounding peaks in search of more localities. Leucadendron radiatum (Endangered) was thriving all along the contour path and on the summit. It was an incredibly long day of 11 hours. But I made it and I plan to do it at least one more time, before I die. The next day some of the party did the magnificent Kristalkloof Hike. Ann and I headed to the north of Garcia Pass to make contact with the van den Bergs. They farm on the north-eastern side of the Langeberg and we would love to explore the area. Both Marco and Patrick van den Berg were very welcoming and we are hoping to see them soon again. And while we tackled Sleeping Beauty, the rest of the Outramps visited Spitskop on Prince Alfred Pass. Our leader being otherwise engaged after a strenuous trip to Sleeping Beauty, the rest of us under Ash’s guidance headed for the hills behind Knysna around Diepewalle.An area around the Valley of Ferns had a burn in early 2009 and this was in the main where we explored. The restios are in great profusion and looking at their best, there are yellow daisies everywhere (Euryops virgineus, Osteospermum junceum, Ursinias of various species), Pelargonium cordatum in full bloom – and best of all, masses of golden yellow Cyclopia subternata which is escaping harvesting. It seems too early for the bulbs to be in flower , though with the warm day the buds we saw will surely open soon. The dominant Proteaceae in our circular walk were Leucadendron conicum and Protea cynaroides, both looking very good. Appropriately post burn, there are a lot of Mairea crenata plants, several in flower. We picnicked at the Valley of Ferns picnic spot afterwards and it was warm enough to warrant sitting in the shade. This coming week, a very depleted Outramps Group is heading for Gamkaberg. We will spend Tuesday exploring a recent burn on the Rooiberg Pass. On Wednesday, we will walk the 17kms to the Hut just beyond Rooiberg. On Thursday we will walk to the summit of Bailey’s Peak, which is 7kms of quite steep up and down, according to our ornithologist, Dr Alan Lee. 2 of the Gamkaberg rangers will be with us with the trusty Landcruiser. Some of this is entirely new ground for us and we are hoping to turn up some exciting “rares.” On Friday we hope to find Roberto’s Arctotis sp. nova in Tierkloof. If the weather is kind, we will also look for Crassula badpoortensis in the vicinity of the Spa. It should be a wonderful few days. Thanks Tom for making it all possible. We are also looking forward to meeting up with Lise and Rudi von Staden. Lise is the wonderful person who keeps the Red List up to date. We have become really good friends over the last few years and we are delighted to have her expertise with us, if only for a limited time.
The anti-rhino poaching awareness project was suggested by Kelly-Jane Peo (OBR student intern) and has been approved as a worthy conservation project by Oyster Bay Reserve (OBR). In partnership with Mossel Bay Environmental Partnerships (MEP) and Oyster Bay Reserve this project concept has now been upgraded to a public media awareness campaign, where the main objective of this project is to make local Mossel Bay residents aware of the current situation that the rhino poaching movements are currently occurring locally. This awareness campaign is planned for the national Rhino day on the 21st September 2012, at various shopping malls.
The concept idea is to inform all residents what actually happens in these mindless killings and what rhino’s have to sadly undergo, when they are poached. Then the aim is to get concerned residents to sign a petition in support of banning Rhino poaching, and to request local intervention in Rhino patrolling by Government. As a sign of co solidarity all persons who are willing to sign the petition will be asked to “paint a pinky” as a sign of support. Painting of a finger nail also shows the ironic link of the finger nail and Rhino horn all being made of the protein Keratin, which is supposedly so highly sought for the East ( at the cost of our Rhino).
The aim of this project is to create as much public awareness as possible, and to create a chain effect where people supporting this project will be able to go forward and spread the word to others. The suggested “Paint a Pinky” project will create a direct correlation between the human and the Rhino, and help all to understand that the Rhino’s horn is only made of out keratin and not some unique product. This protein is the same substance that a human nail is made out of. Anyone supporting this project and who is willing to come and “paint their pinky’ red, will spread the word. This concept will soon spread and more and more people will notice and start to ask why their nail is painted red. The “paint a pinky”, could spread to hundreds of people and spread the awareness in ways that that we might not even imagine.
This conservation initiative is strongly supported by Oyster Bay Reserve (OBR) and Mossel Bay Environmental Partnerships (MEP). The conservation or rather preservation of these species is crucial to the protection of endangered wildlife in South Africa, in order to ensure future sustainability of the species biodiversity.
The project is initially proposed to take place in two different shopping malls in Mossel Bay (Mossel Bay Mall, Kwanonqaba & Langeberg Mall) where there will be a stall in each mall, manned with 3 – 5 people at each stall. There will be educational posters on the illegal poaching of the rhino’s and some statistics for 2012 too.
Oyster Bay Reserve & MEP are focused on just educating and creating awareness, but need buy in from the media to make this really take off. It is intended to promote this via radio and the news.
Sponsorship will make this project grow and could assist in providing Rhino rubber bands at a discounted rate, from “stop rhino poaching” South Africa in all sizes and in grey/pink color. The OBR interns have designed T-shirts and will wear the bands. The OBR interns who are going to man the stalls will wear these. Kelly-Jane is also in the process of designing Rhino shirts for the crew, to wear on that day for unity.
The idea is also to attract schools in Mossel Bay to participate in this project. The possibility of the team moving from school to school to educate the learners about it was contemplated, but is limited due to funds availability. The more who paint their nails and sign the petition the better, especially in Mossel Bay where two Rhino’s have been poached this year.
The more people who can be drawn into this project the better and this is intended to make the “word of mouth” education awareness campaign far more effective. Local conservation bodies will also be requested and motivated to join this campaign.
The best part is MEP initiative is that we can collectively get together on something that we all feel so strongly about. By education you can definitely make a difference.