Tag Archives: carolyn goble

Catchment to Confluence Complete

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The excitement was brewing as the team were heading to the start of the final leg of the journey along the Karkloof river. This would involve walking the section from below the Karkloof Falls to the confluence where the Karkloof meets the uMngeni River.

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Aerial view of the Karkloof Falls

This entire stretch traverses through the Karkloof Safari Spa property, which is an upmarket private game reserve, lodge and spa with restricted access. This day was set to be a little different from the rest, as we were missing half our team (Ndu and Ayanda), however, we were fortunate to be joined by Jenna Taylor of GroundTruth and Dr. Hans Grobler who is the specialist environmental and wildlife conservation advisor to Mr Worner (the landowner).

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From left: Jenna Taylor, Dr Hans Grobler and Sue Viljoen.

The highlight of the day was reaching the base of the Karkloof falls (normally only seen from above) via a winding wooden boardwalk built by the Karkloof Spa.

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The boardwalk that leads to the base of the Karkloof falls

The team enjoyed the lush mistbelt forest with the many flora treasures within, expansive cliffs that tell an incredible geological story, and the damp spray of the waterfall with misty clouds rising above the falls.

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The magnificent Karkloof Falls

In this sacred place where time stands still, and one gets to just soak up the majesty and beauty of one of nature’s natural wonders, no one would guess that we were just 30 minutes from civilisation and the town of Howick.

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A team selfie at the base of the Karkloof Falls, which is the starting point for the final leg of our journey.  From left: Twané Clarke (Karkloof Conservancy), Jenna Taylor (GroundTruth) and Sue Viljoen (WWF-SA)

Although the team could have stayed at these magnificent falls all day, they knew they had a journey to complete. Once back out of the forested boardwalk section, the valley opened up into savannah with thorn trees and grassland, with a wealth of indigenous species tracking the river’s course through the reserve.

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Dierama sp.

A Buffalo stood watching us quietly from behind a large rock at the river. For at least 8km, the Karkloof’s last stretch before the confluence enjoys natural habitats all along its path, which gives the river an opportunity to heal itself of any impacts experienced higher up in the catchment. Water clarity noticeably improved as well as the levels of dissolved oxygen due to the regular riffles, rapids, and general fast flow of this section.

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Fast flowing river through a natural area.

It is interesting to note that Lantana camara was absent along the entire stretch of river from the source to the falls, but was prolific throughout the last day’s journey. We could see that work was being done to combat this invasive alien plant, as well as many others.

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Dr Grobler taking the water clarity reading at the weir for us. The clarity test tube is a brilliant citizen science tool which can be purchased through GroundTruth.

While taking water sample readings near the confluence, a young Spotted-necked Otter peeked its head out of the water with curiosity to see what we were doing. Spotted-necked Otters require clean, good quality water with clear visibility in order to catch fish. It was an encouraging sign to have this sighting at the end of our journey and certainly a highlight for the team.

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Spotted-necked Otter just above the confluence at the end of our 64km journey,

The team were amused to see that hippo also rely on the Karkloof River as home. Have you ever seen a hippo in a natural flowing river in the KZN midlands? A rare sight indeed. We were also treated to sightings of Eland, Giraffe, Zebra, Bushbuck, Warthog and many more game species.

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Hippo enjoying the tranquility of the Karkloof Safari Spa

The river walkers were indeed extremely privileged to have experienced the wildlife and scenery at the Karkloof Safari Spa and are very grateful for being afforded access in order to complete the journey and collect the necessary data along the full stretch of the river.

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Identifying water invertebrates to obtain a miniSASS score

Very soon after the confluence where the Karkloof river joins onto the uMngeni, we could see the quick deterioration of water quality and the first signs of invasive water weeds on the uMngeni river at Morton’s Drift. Fortunately the Karkloof River is free of aquatic invasive weeds, and will hopefully remain that way.

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Mortons Drift. Just below the confluence on the uMngeni River.

The team celebrated the end of the 6 day Karkloof River walk from Catchment to Confluence with sundowners at the top of the Karkloof Falls at the Sappi picnic site, joined by members of the Karkloof Conservancy and WWF staff. A toast was made to the river walk accomplishment and conquering the 64km journey through hill and vale, rain and shine.

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Cheers! To a successful journey.

There is keen interest to see the official results of the river health sampling and the video that is being made of the C2C Karkloof River Walk journey, sponsored by Woolworths. Both of these will be shared at an upcoming Karkloof Conservancy event to be announced.

A huge note of thanks to all the sponsors and partners that have contributed in both cash and kind towards this project, and to the landowners who so willingly allowed access to their properties.

So which river is next? And who else is going to raise their hand to get to know the river in their own catchment?

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Great to see the Goble family at the end of our journey. The support from landowners has been fantastic. We look forward to sharing the results with them. From left: Ros Lindley, Fuzz Goble and his mum, Carolyn Goble.

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Carolyn Goble

Carolyn Goble recently resigned as Chair of the Karkloof Conservancy after 16 years. She has played an enormous role in Conservation in the Midlands and is well respected in the region.Gartmore Pics 686

Ian and Ann Player are great admirers. “All of us who live in the valley are deeply indebted to Carolyn for the many years of hard work, innovation and inspiration she put into the Conservancy. The Karkloof Conservation Centre is a model of what can be done with the minimum of resources, but maximum amount of enthusiasm to honour the wildlife and the spirit of the land. Thank you Carolyn for your dedication, courage, your integrity, but particularly for your wonderful enthusiasm which infects everyone who comes into contact with you.”

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Carolyn tells her story “I have been a farmer’s wife for 42 years and my husband and I began farming in the Greytown district in 1968. We started dairy farming in 1975 and I managed our dairy herd for 30 years, whilst my husband did all the cropping. During our time in Greytown I was on the committee of the local branch of the Wildlife Society and also worked as a volunteer for the Umvoti Child Welfare Society for over 20 years. In 1995 we took the decision to leave Greytown and look for a farm with more water. We bought a beautiful dairy farm in the Karkloof and brought all our cows, machinery and farm family to an area with a higher rainfall and the most amazing biodiversity.

After 2 years I mentioned to my husband that I really missed not doing the annual game counts that we had always done with the Greytown Conservancy. He encouraged me to organise the first Game Count in the Karkloof in July 1997. This was very well received by the local farmers and their families and I was then encouraged by some really good people, who were involved in conservation, to re-establish the Karkloof Conservancy and in 1998 I was elected Chairperson.”

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Over the years Karkloof Conservancy has tackled various conservation issues, organised interesting speakers, done annual game and bird counts, hosted frogging evenings and also created awareness about the endangered species which occur in the region e.g. the wattled cranes, the Cape parrots, the Southern Ground Hornbill, the Karkloof Blue butterfly, Oribi and the black stinkwood tree which is virtually extinct.

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Anita Turvey is very appreciative of Carolyn’s efforts: “Thank you Carolyn for all that you do for the Conservancy – I know that no-one will ever be able to match what you have done – starting the Conservancy many, many years ago and building it up to the beautiful and informative centre that it now is!! You DO deserve your break and I really hope you find someone who is prepared to take over.”

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Carolyn trained as a teacher, so it didn’t take much persuasion for her to start an environmental education programme at 6 local farm schools. “I must say that working with children has always been my big love and it is so rewarding to see the response that one gets from these children who are so keen and eager to learn. The farmers are very supportive, as they believe that it was an extremely good idea to introduce the children to conservation.”

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Florence Buthelezi principal of Triandra school: “Carolyn is our Gogo. Triandra is in her heart. The staff and learners  are part of her family and her grandchildren visit our school and socialise with the learners.  We call her “our school engine” because she helps us so much. No one can take the love of nature from her and she has instilled a love of natue in both learners and educators.”

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Karkloof schools have all earned their Eco-Schools status, with Hawkstone Primary achieving International Green Flag status. Bheki Lipheyana, Principal of Hawkstone adds “Carolyn will be remembered for her organisational skills and love of children. When entering each classroom, she would greet the children in isiZulu and admire their artwork with appreciation. She wouldn’t leave without going into the garden and making comment or two. That made her very special to me.”

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Every year a theme, relevant to the area, is chosen. This might be grasslands, water, cranes or mountains. Learners produce art which is displayed at the Conservancy AGM so members can vote for their favourite. The school with the best work is rewarded with an educational excursion and picnic.

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The Karkloof Conservation Centre is the pride of Karkloof.  The Karkloof Conservancy, led by Carolyn, raised funding for this Conservation Centre and Bird Hides from the SAPPI Tree Routes Partnership, and the funding was administered by the Wildlands Conservation Trust.  Situated 15 kms outside Howick, the Centre consists of a Conservation and Tourism Office, The Nick Steele picnic site, as well as two  world class bird hides. This Centre was opened by Dr Ian Player in October 2007.  Since then many visitors have spent time admiring the amazing biodiversity of the area.

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Carolyn has encouraged landowners to become involved in the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme. The Mount Gilboa Nature Reserve in the Karkloof, which is approximately 725ha, has now been formally proclaimed and Mondi is the first forestry company to enter into a Biodiversity Agreement with KZN Wildlife. Dartmoor Farm, which adjoins the Karkloof Nature Reserve, has been purchased by Wildlands and will be managed by KZN Wildlife and the Mbona Private Nature Reserve has also been registered under the new Biodiversity Act. This brings a total of approximately 4000ha in the Karkloof already under formal conservation. Recently other farmers, who are all Conservancy members, have joined the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme. If all these properties are successful in their proclamation, a further 1800 ha will be added to the 4000ha and conserved for future generations. Charlie MacGillivray comments “On behalf of the whole of the Karkloof Conservancy, our heartfelt gratitude for all your timeless efforts since you came to the Karkloof and breathed new, vibrant and enduring life into what we now are proud of as being a functional, happy, committed and enthusiastic membership and associate participants, working towards ensuring our beautiful area remains pristine and where possible, improves.”

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Andrew Ferendinos (Chairman of the KZN Crane Foundation): “Sixteen years ago the Karkloof Conservancy was established by Carolyn Goble and others. Thanks to their efforts today the Karkloof remains a living jewel. A jewel the local community has industriously polished: with bird hides; thriving populations of wildlife; environmental education work in local schools; ecotourism businesses (from canopy tours to forest lodges) and pioneering work in no till farming and other environmentally friendly farming practices. Carolyn Goble has been part of the glue that has held all of this together. Carolyn Goble has also (somehow) found the time to extend support and encouragement to many younger conservationists, she will be missed and remembered with gratitude.”

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Carolyn concludes: “This area of Mist Belt Mixed Podocarpus Forest and Mist Belt Grasslands, as well as the wetland at our Conservation Centre, are rare and threatened in South Africa and need to be protected at all costs. As I have a deep love of nature and greatly appreciate the amazing biodiversity of the Karkloof, I will continue to do all that I can to see that this protection is granted. Looking back, I can see that my experiences in Greytown with the Greytown Conservancy, the Wildlife Society and the Umvoti Child Welfare Society have stood me in good stead!”

Eidin Griffin, Carolyn Gobles, Jon Bates, Jenny Stipcich, Ann Burke