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Drinking troughs Can be more Wildlife friendly
The water in these typical livestock watering troughs is inaccessible to smaller wildlife like tortoises, hares and even small birds. Many animals can’t reach the water while others can get up onto the edge of the trough but are unable to drink. I have found many small birds unnecessarily drowned in this way. The solution to the problem is quite simple.
By constructing a simple ramp of stones, cemented together, and over the edge of the trough, the water becomes accessible to all wildlife. The ramp should extend into the trough to prevent small animals from falling into the water and drowning. These ramps are cheap to make and can be made by unskilled workers with a little bit of instruction
Buffalo Farming and “Gates”
Buffalo farmer Lindsay Hunt near Heidelberg has shown that commercial game farming can be done in an environmentally friendly way. One of the criticisms about game farming is the impervious game fences that are often needed, which limit the movement of smaller wildlife across the landscape. Lindsay has solved the problem in an ingenious but simple way and all it cost him was a couple of extra poles in each camp.
Each corner in each buffalo camp is provided with a vertical pole “gate” which excludes the buffalo but permits the free movement of grey rhebok, common duiker and bushbuck through the farm. When I visited I saw a family group of grey rhebok happily foraging alongside the buffalo herd. A “gate” is also provided along the straight sections of the camp fences. These “gates” are only built into internal game fences and not the outer boundary. Perhaps we can look forward to the day when all game farm boundaries in the GCBR are fitted with these “gates” wherever practical (ie: not along public roads), or at least small ones for small animals
The African Striped Weasel
The African striped weasel (Poecilogale albinucha) is one of the lesser known mammals of our area. Small and secretive, but an accomplished little hunter no less, this smaller cousin of the honey badger (ratel) is actually quite rare but widespread in it’s distribution. They are specialist rodent predators but will also take birds and insectivores.
The striped weasel is recorded to occur mostly in the eastern half of the country, in areas with a rainfall of more than 600mm per annum. The weasels, however, have not read this book because I have found them along the Orange river in an area with an average rainfall of 350mm, usually much less.
The annual Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve awards were handed over at a gala dinner at the Garden Route Game Lodge near Albertinia on Tuesday 30 October.
Pieter Coetzee, farmer and businessman of Vanwyksdorp received the award for the most outstanding individual. Coetzee recently donated a bus shelter to the people of Vanwyksdorp.
Lorraine McGibbon, representative of Wessa, received an award for her tireless work in establishing and maintaining international standards at a growing number of eco schools in Eden. There are at present 7 eco schools in Eden.
Steff Strydom and Andre Maree received awards for the re-establishment of Spekboom in the Groenefontein area of the Karoo. This species is unique in its quality as a CO2 equaliser.
Willem Roodman of Hessequa Municipality, Anna Saaiman, Maria Williams and Esbe Williams who are involved in the eradication of alien species in the Stilbaai area, Ladismith High School, Kruisrivier Primary School, Aiden Beck of the Oyster Bay Reserve, contractors who work with CapeNaure to do alien eradication, Beverley Boer of Mosselbay Environmental Partnership, Nick Scholtz of Lower Breede River Conservancy, Robert den Drijwer of Oudtshoorn Municipality parks department, Roland Scholtz of Fransmanshoek Conservancy, Warren Manual of Mosselbay Municipality and Shagon Carelse of Hessequa Municipality all received awards for their excellent contribution to the wellbeing of the biosphere.
Laerskool Kruisrivier pupils presented a fantastic slide show on their schools’ green initiatives and was cited by Vernon Gibbs-Halls as one of the most proactive Eco School in the Biosphere Reserve
Guest speaker dr Kas Hamman, acting CEO of CapeNature, said alien vegetation and runaway veld fires, and the loss of water from catchment area to the coast, posed the biggest threat to biodiversity.
He said estuaries, an important nursery for many species and recreation area for humans, could only be managed with the help of partners, such as those who were honoured and thanked for their efforts by the awards.
“Biodiversity corridors is one way of mitigating the influence of these factors in a small way. If must cooperate, otherwise we will not win the battle.”
Partnerships were of the essence to the promote and invest in protected areas, as more than 80 percent of rare and endangered plants and animals occurred outside protected areas. “We have to plant together for success and to move forward. Most important is education – children and adults alike need to be informed.”
Vernon Gibbs-Halls of Eden Municipality acted as master of ceremonies, and learners from TM Ndanda School in Mosselbay entertained guests with their ethnic dances.