Crowned Eagle Conservancy – The home of the Kloof Frog

Crowned Eagle Conservancy - The home of the Kloof Frog

This conservancy shows what can be achieved by a handful of people with limited resources but tonnes of dedication and commitment!

Set on a privately owned complex the conservancy includes a natural perennial stream, a number of small ponds, a waterfall, a riverine forest, a wetland and a cave with artefacts believed to be over 1200 years old.

Over the past 12 years enormous amounts of alien vegetation has been replaced with over 140 different types of indigenous trees of which some are nearly extinct, e.g. Red and Black Stinkwood and Pepperbark. The trees have been planted to attract birds, butterflies and small mammals.

The following species have been recorded: more than 150 bird species, duiker, mongoose, porcupine, water monitor, large spotted genets, bushpig, rock hyrax, hoardes of butterflies, dragonflies and the large variety of frogs including the endangered Kloof frog and threatened Cascade frog. The endangered Ruby-footed Black Millipede (Doratogonus rubipodus) is also a resident species.

In partnership with CROW, birds needing rehabilitation are brought to the conservancy, held in a large cage and then released into the environment. The following raptors nest in the forest: African Harrier Hawk, Black Sparrowhawk, various owl species and Yellow Billed Kites.

Meandering forest walks, bridges over the stream, decks and a forest boardwalk have been built. Recently the removal of 600 tons of silt from the dam and the building of a jetty, swing and raft, has resulted in a safe environment for swimming, fishing and paddling in the dam.

An education centre has been established where school children have access to information on various frogs, fish, crabs, butterflies, dragonflies, birds, plants etc. and are shown artefacts from the shelter.

The rehabilitation of a marsh area suitable for the breeding of the Kloof Frog has been a great success and during the peak breeding season as many as 70 batches of eggs and 54 Kloof Frogs have been counted at one time.

Conservancies Open Weekend

Conservancies Open Weekend

A walk on the Wild Side!

Eight conservancies in the Highway area of Durban have grouped together to organise an “Open” weekend on 27/28 March to showcase the work done by conservancies.

Each conservancy has selected one area which they have rehabilitated/developed as a conservancy project. Guided walks will be offered over the weekend but visitors will also be encouraged to do self-guided walks through the project areas.

This is a new concept for these conservancies so it will be interesting to see how the public will react to being invited to visit areas which are in their “back-yard” but very seldom visited. The event differs from the traditional and more formal “open garden” events held in the area so the theme is “A walk on the wild side” as most of the areas are natural grasslands or riverine forest with minimal infrastructure and no manicured landscaping!

The eight conservancy projects on show are:

“A Green Haven in an Urban Jungle – Jubilee Park” : Westville Conservancy

“Reversing the impact of human destruction of nature – Msinsi Grassland Project” : Kloof Conservancy

“Residents Co-operate to create a natural haven – Iphithi Nature Reserve” : Gillitts Conservancy

“The Home of the Kloof Frog” : Crowned Eagle Conservancy

“A Natural Corridor for biodiversity and the community along the Railroad reserve” : Hillcrest Conservancy

“Rehabilitating a vital Green Corridor – Everton Longshadow Trail” : Everton Conservancy

“A place for all seasons – the Pony Club Nature Reserve” : Crestholme Conservancy

“The grassland in the Clouds” : Monteseel Conservancy

Details to follow.

The Grassland at Monteseel
The Grassland at Monteseel

The Bigger Picture

The Bigger Picture

Without wanting to get mired in a political morass there is little doubt that the four years of the Trump administration in the USA was a severe set-back for the fight against climate change. It is somewhat reassuring how swiftly action can be taken when there is true political will. In a recent article by Oliver Milman in The Guardian titled, “Dizzying pace of Biden’s climate action sounds death knell for era of denialism.” the author explores the raft of Executive Orders issued by the new administration to reverse the Trump catastrophe.

Not everyone however is focussed on the benefits of a healthy environment. As explained in the article:

Biden is yanking every possible governmental lever, it seems, to lower emissions but is also cognisant of attacks from Republicans, and unease among some unions, that ditching projects such as the Keystone XL oil pipeline will kill jobs. Battle lines have already formed – Republicans are trying to prevent any halt to drilling, with Greg Abbott, the Texas governor, vowing to “protect the oil and gas industry from any type of hostile attack launched from Washington DC”.

This is very familiar territory for us in South Africa where despite admirable environmental legislation the Government gleefully continues to invest in “dirty” industries linked to coal, oil and gas extraction, considering fracking in our most sensitive water catchments and open cast mining next door to world heritage sites.

The battle for the environment should not be framed in “job losses” but rather in “jobs created” as explained by Milman:

“The counter to this backlash will be framed around jobs. Those who know Biden say the president views the climate crisis as a destabilising threat to American might and national security but also an opportunity to create employment in a Covid-ravaged economy. “When I think of climate change I think of jobs,” has become a Biden slogan.

The president argues a $2tn clean energy plan will bring millions of new jobs by refashioning the power grid to run on carbon-free sources such as solar and wind within 15 years, building a new generation of energy-efficient homes and electric cars and mopping up pollution from oil and gas wells.

Hopefully the tide of change being generated now by the USA will move South Africa to change course in favour of the environment.

You can read the full Guardian article by clicking here.

NEMBA – Invasive Alien Species list

NEMBA - Invasive Alien Species list

We thought it would be useful to remind everyone of the official National list of Invasive Alien Species which form part of the NEMBA Regulations.

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries have a very useful booklet in PDF format which can be downloaded from the SA Invasives website, click here to download.

The document has useful information not only on plant species but on other invasives such as mammals, reptiles, fresh water fish and invertebrates.

Small Project Fund for 2021

Small Project Fund for 2021

Applications for Grants will open on 15 February.

For the first time in 2020 we were able to offer two conservancy Small Project Grants of R15 000 each. We have been fortunate to receive a generous donation from the Balwin Charity Foundation and we are therefore very pleased that we are able to continue with the Small Project Grant Scheme in 2021.

All conservancies will receive notice as applications for the grants (increased to R20 000 per project) will be opening on 15 February.

The goal of the scheme is to encourage conservancies to adopt a project approach to running activities as a project methodology is the best way to get things done in an ordered and planned manner.