Tag Archives: custodianship

Finally the Falls!

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On Day 5 of the Catchment to Confluence Karkloof River Walk the team was thrilled to be joined by 2 fresh pairs of legs, Mbuso Khambule (new SAPPI Environmental Officer) and Mondli Goba (SAPPI Communications Officer), just in time to pass through some of the SAPPI Shafton plantation areas on the Karkloof floodplain.

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Team setting off. From Left: Nduduzo Khoza (EWT Eco-Ranger), Mondli Goba (Sappi), Mbuso Khambule (Sappi), Twané Clarke (Karkloof Conservancy), Ayanda Lipheyana (GroundTruth) and the photographer behind the camera is Sue Viljoen (WWF-SA)

Our destination for the day was the Karkloof Falls, starting at the pumphouse on Gartmore farm, which as the crow flies did not seem all that far. But we now knew by experience that following the meanders of a river over rough terrain or tall vegetation where there is no path is not likely to be a walk in the park.

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Sue Viljoen (WWF-SA) pushing through the tall vegetation in the wetland

As we pushed through the wetland, we stopped to gaze at the distant Karkloof mountains, home to the river’s source where we had come from 5 days earlier, feeling pleased with the distance we had conquered so far.

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The team felt a sense of pride as we gazed upon the distant mountain

We were excited to see 2 Grey Crowned Cranes fly over us, with their characteristic “mahem” call, en route to one of the bird hides at the Karkloof Conservation Centre. What would Karkloof be without its treasured cranes? We had been treated to sightings of a number of cranes on the previous days as well. In total 11 Grey Crowned Cranes were seen and 4 Wattled Cranes. And it was only fitting that most of these cranes were spotted on farms belonging to “Crane Custodians”.

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Nduduzo Khoza (EWT Eco-Ranger) and Twané Clarke (Karkloof Conservancy) excited to see these custodianship signs.

Custodians are landowners who are formally recognised by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) for their voluntary contribution to the conservation of threatened species on their farms, such as crane, oribi or blue swallows. (Download “Guidelines for Custodianship in SA” here)

By tea time, we had traversed the Shafton wetland and reached the Karkloof River bridge which crosses over the road to Cramond.

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Karkloof River bridge along the Cramond road. From left: Ayanda Lipheyana (GroundTruth), Mbuso Khambule (Sappi), Twané Clarke (Karkloof Conservancy), Sue Viljoen (WWF-SA), Nduduzo Khoza (EWT Eco-Ranger) and Mondli Goba (Sappi)

Mbuso reminded us of the extent of SAPPI plantations that had been removed from the Shafton wetland a number of years ago and allowed to rehabilitate back to natural vegetation – some 186 ha were not replanted due to the existence of this important wetland system.

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Looking back at the rehabilitated wetland beyond the bridge.

The next section of the river was slow moving, noticeably poorer in water quality and showed signs of being at the bottom of the valley’s catchment area, which ultimately receives all the nutrient rich runoff from the various activities along the way. The water colour had changed to a more murky greenish colour, there was a type of sludge on the rocks, in some quieter corners, traces of foam was seen on the surface and the sewage weed could be seen in many places along the river’s edge.

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At the first set of large, impressive rocks above the falls, we did a Mini-SASS test, which showed the water was “critically modified”, confirming our impressions that the river’s quality was now compromised. At this site, a dead bushbuck was found between the large rocks, leaving us wondering what happened here. It looks like it lost its footing while trying to have a drink.

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Doing a miniSASS before heading off on the last section to the Karkloof Falls

The condition of riverine buffer along this last stretch was also compromised due to high levels of alien invasive vegetation (such as the big clump of bamboo shown below, poplar saplings, elderflower and all the other commonly seen invasives we had seen higher up in the catchment). Pastures were unfortunately established very close to the river, and therefore without a wide section of natural vegetation to act as buffer and filter for the runoff, the river is all the more impacted.

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A clump of bamboo at the river’s edge.

Having followed every twist and turn of the river now for 5 days, we felt a certain sadness at the deterioration of the river’s health. However, the sight of the picnic site for the Karkloof falls picked up our spirits. Destination at last! Hooray for being able to pull off our boots and take a break in the shade! Here we were spoilt with orange ice-lollies by our videographer, Jayne Symes, who is putting a video clip together of the river walk. What a welcome gift! Thank you Jane!

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Jane Symes (Black & White Studios) was our hero that day. These ice cold treats were welcomed after a day of scorching heat and little shade.

While catching our breath over lunch, we chatted at length about the problem of litter at a public picnic site like this, and how increasingly popular the Karkloof Falls had become. Would new signage saying “litter free zone” and removing the dustbins help to change people’s behaviour so that all rubbish is taken away by visitors?

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Karkloof Falls picnic site along the river could be the perfect setting for a litter free zone

There was just 1 section left to walk down to the actual Karkloof falls viewing point and lower picnic site, our end point for the day. We said “bye for now” to the river, with the very last leg of the river’s journey to be continued the following Thursday, 6th April. A team photo in front of the falls was a fitting way to exclaim “WE MADE IT!”.

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We made it! The Karkloof River Walk team have reached the Karkloof falls

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A Winding Watercourse

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After difficult and long days, Day 4 promised to be less strenuous as the team were now truly in the Karkloof floodplain, where the terrain was more open and the river starts its characteristic meanders.

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With Sue Viljoen (WWF) unable to join us for day 4, Simon Bruton of GroundTruth stepped in as a substitute for the day.

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Day 4’s river walk team. From left: Twané Clarke (Karkloof Conservancy), Simon Bruton (GroundTruth), Ayanda Lipheyana (GroundTruth), and Nduduzo Khoza (EWT Eco-Ranger)

Given the open terrain, by tea time we could see in the far distance the start of a line of trees, the end of which marked our finish point for the day. However, we knew there was still much walking ahead, given the many meanders, oxbow lakes and fences we would still need to navigate.

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On the floodplain cattle became a common sight, along with some of the impacts and risks they can introduce in proximity to watercourses. Eroded cattle crossings, drinking and feeding points (with associated cattle dung and trampling) contributed to water which showed gradual but increasing visual signs of change such as cloudiness, froth and abundant growth of nuisance vegetation, possibly thriving on an increased nutrient load. It will be interesting to see if the laboratory water quality analysis sponsored by Talbot & Talbot confirm the visual observations.

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Sewerage plant along with other signs of deteriorating water quality

Days 3 and 4 were the days of fence crossings. Given the fatigue setting in, humour was found in the different ways each of us may tackle a fence in the least strenuous manner, given our different loads and skills. Some would prefer to vault over and leave pack and kit intact, while others would disrobe all kit, squeeze through and kit up again.

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Ayanda negotiating yet another fence

Given the many meanders and fences, a tree trunk footbridge was a welcome but tricky crossing to negotiate.

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Negotiating the log bridge

Twané showing the muscle required of a river walker.

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After lunch we made a poor call on which side of the river to take, ultimately resulting in the need for a detour around a large mosaic of impenetrable wetland vegetation, which separated us from the river for some distance. Once re-united, water quality samples were again collected.

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At the tar road bridge over the Karkloof River, illegal and irresponsible dumping of waste tar material into the river was noted, posing a significant constriction to flow, and perhaps even affecting flood risk to the bridge, with one of the two culverts effectively barricaded.

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Waste tar material dumped off the Karkloof tar road bridge, introducing river impacts and potential flood risk

In the early afternoon Ouhout, Leucosidea sericea, was again found for the first time since the headwater sections. Numerous alien plants still made their presence felt (particularly bramble and bugweed), but not in the same densities that had been experienced on day 3. Having said that, some large isolated patches of bramble required some cautious retreat and detour.

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Nduduzo taking a water clarity reading at one of the last water quality sites of the day.

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As dusk approached and each camp fence was crossed, the team were joined by relays of inquisitive river walkers who call this beautiful area home.

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SAPPI Saunter

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On Monday, 27 March the eager walkers were greeted with a clear sky for Day 2 of the Karkloof Catchment to Confluence River Walk. We were thrilled to have Hlengiwe Ndlovu, an environmentalist for Sappi, join us for the day and share her expertise and knowledge with our team for this vitally important project.

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Day 2 River Walkers. From Left: Sue Viljoen (WWF-SA), Hlengiwe Ndlovu (SAPPI), Twané Clarke (Karkloof Conservancy), Nduduzo Khoza (EWT) and Ayanda Lipheyana (GroundTruth)

The team were dropped off at the same point that we ended at on the previous day and started a new Riparian Health Audit (RHA) to measure the quality of the upcoming river stretch. A miniSASS study along with water chemistry tests were also conducted.

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Testing water clarity

The journey along this first RHA section yielded a “Fair” result, which had been the lowest score we’d gotten since the source of the Karkloof river. We anticipated that the results would show a decrease in river health, as we had come across the first sign of humans since starting on our walk.

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Signs of human life (a rare sight since Day 1’s walk)

Hlengiwe was enthusiastic about the River walk: “I think the project will provide valuable “point information” of where/what impacts occur along the river for the landowners to enable targeted action. It will also be worthy in providing positive feedback to landowners who’ve completed good rehabilitation interventions.

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Hlengiwe Ndlovu (SAPPI) was thrilled to walk along the Karkloof River with us.

This RHA area was badly infested with Wattle and Bramble; there were signs of litter and small scale dumping; and Ayanda Lipheyana of GroundTruth pointed out the “Sewerage plant” which grows along river banks where there is a high nutrient load in the water. This warranted a sample to be taken for E. coli, Nitrate and Phosphate tests to be done. These samples are sent daily to Talbot and Talbot who have kindly donated their time, equipment and expertise for this project.

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A portion of the Bramble infestation.

We soon entered Plantation territory, where the team were treated to interesting stories from Hlengiwe about the challenges they face when planning Invasive Alien Plant control within the plantation areas.

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This walk has inspired some valuable discussions while sharing thoughts and ideas.

The team were impressed with the progress that has been made by SAPPI in the stretch we were walking for the day.

 

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Appreciating the healthy looking riparian zone between the two plantations.

The riparian zones were looking healthy and we had an easy walk through the grasslands, appreciating the lack of bramble hooking onto our clothes and skin.

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The team enjoying a bramble-free walk

Hlengiwe pointed out the Bracken in a few areas, telling us about the nightmare in trying to control this pioneer species. This plant is a common sight in the KZN Midlands, turning a beautiful golden brown colour in the autumn. There was a consensus in the discussions between the team that the most effective way in controlling the spread of this plant is to keep it short and cut the regrowth at its early stages.

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Hlengiwe Ndlovu (SAPPI) pointing out the Bracken that proves difficult to remove.

As the team saw their homestretch to the end of day 2, Ayanda’s foot managed to find an animal’s home on the grassland slope, unfortunately twisting his ankle in the process. One of the dangers of walking through unpathed areas.

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Ayanda getting his ankle strapped by Nduduzo to help him reach our end point at the bridge in the background.

Hlengiwe commented: “I enjoyed being up close and personal to the river, which is a rare opportunity as one often sees the river in bits and pieces. I also enjoyed the anecdotal stories from the team of the different “river experiences” we’d all had and how we’ve all experienced the Karkloof thus far.

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A happy team at the end of Day 2. From left: Nduduzo Khoza (EWT), Ayanda Lipheyana (GroundTruth), Hlengiwe Ndlovu (SAPPI), Charlie MacGillivray (Karkloof Conservancy and our amazing backup, support and driver), Twané Clarke (Karkloof Conservancy), Sue Viljoen (WWF-SA)

Our sincere thanks to all sponsors and landowners who have made this walk and study possible. So far it has proven to be an extremely valuable exercise and we look forward to the rest of the journey.

Source Seeking and Catchment Clambering

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Clamber (verb): to climb or move in an awkward and laborious manner, typically using both hands and feet.

This sums Day 1 up quite adequately, especially whilst we were trying to find the source of the Karkloof River! The source proved to be well hidden within a thicket of Ouhout, Leucosidea sericea, mixed with some other indigenous shrubs and trees such as the Nana-berry, Searsia dentata, and a few ferns and creepers.

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The river walk team at the source of the Karkloof river

The river walkers were ready to start their intrepid journey of the first 10.6km of the Karkloof River at 7am, with a light misty drizzle – typical of the Midlands mistbelt. Our team comprised of Twané Clarke of the Karkloof Conservancy, Ayanda Lipheyana from GroundTruth who do routine water quality monitoring for the Karkloof Irrigation Board, Sue Viljoen of WWF-SA who have been working on a number of Water Stewardship initiatives in the Umngeni catchment, and Nduduzo Khoza an Eco-Ranger for the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT).

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Off we go… From left: Sue Viljoen (WWF-SA); Nduduzo Khoza (EWT); Ayanda Lipheyana (GroundTruth); and Twané Clarke (Karkloof Conservancy)

The team followed the stream until they reached a sight with sufficient water to begin the first set of water quality sampling techniques. These methods will be repeated down the length of the Karkloof river to build up a better picture of the river’s current status quo.

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MiniSASS – identifying the invertebrates to determine river health

Tests included a miniSASS (using aquatic invertebrates to determine river condition), a Riparian Health Audit (RHA) and taking water quality readings such as pH, clarity, dissolved oxygen and temperature. All results have been captured on smart devices using a new app called GeoODK, which GroundTruth have customised for river monitoring purposes.

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Testing the clarity of the water

Most miniSASS tests indicated good condition, with one site boasting near natural conditions. The highlight of the day was finding an elusive Stonefly at this site which is known to be the most sensitive invertebrate to river impacts.

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Yes folks, that little insect made our day!

The site that only had a fair condition was possibly indicating the impact of erosion, invasive alien vegetation and log jamming.

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An example of log jamming. Removing these obstacles in the river will make a world of difference.

We were all fascinated by the abundance of Ouhout growing  along drainage lines, gullies and riverine areas. We’re particularly interested to find out from the locals about the history of this area and whether these trees have always been here or if it has gotten denser through the years – ideas welcome.

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Overall, we were quite surprised by the extent of the impacts so soon in the river’s journey. Wattle, Bramble and Blackjack are prevalent and will require large scale and carefully planned clearing, with assistance of other organisations, if the vision of an alien free Karkloof river is ever to be realised.

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We were also treated to some of the most beautiful scenery,

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unique flowers,

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spoor of what we suspect to be a Brown Hyaena that we followed for a while,

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and lots of frogs.

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As the sun began to set over the picturesque hills, we realised we were chasing the clock to reach our final point before dark. The flying ants glistened in the dusky light and the temperatures began to drop.

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The team finally reached the end at 6:30 pm where we were warmly greeted by Charlie MacGillivray who is both a landowner and the Chairman of the Karkloof Conservancy. Let’s hope Day 2’s stretch of the Karkloof river is kinder to us.

Our sincere thanks to all landowners who gave us permission to walk on their properties today. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring your part of the Karkloof which set the tone for the rest of the journey.

David Clulow – Inspirational Environmental Champion

David Clulow: 02.10.37 to 28.10.2015

By Crystelle Wilson of Gramarye

“Where did you see that? What day was that, and what time? How many were there . . .?”

David clambering in the rocks on Sitamani

David clambering in the rocks on Sitamani

Over the years Boston residents have learned that it was not good enough simply to mention an interesting sighting in passing to David, especially when it came to all three crane species and Southern Ground-Hornbills.

During the 20 years or so that the Clulows lived in Boston they took an active part in community life and David was a leader in the Conservancy since its inception.

There has been a pair of Grey Crowned Cranes nesting in the pan adjacent to the Elands River on The Willows for many years. He began monitoring their breeding, which he recorded for the African Crane Conservation Programme of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), as well as other crane sightings in the district. In 2011, his efforts were acknowledged when he was made a crane custodian.

2015 Grey Crowned Crane family hatched on The Willows

2015 Grey Crowned Crane family hatched on The Willows

In February 2012 David called to say their neighbour on the other side wanted him to come and look at a strange bird on her lawn. When we got there, we found a day-old crane chick, which had somehow made its way from the nesting site through thick vegetation into the garden. David took the chick home overnight, feeding it ProNutro (chocolate flavour!). Tanya Smith of the EWT collected the bird the next morning and “Bossy-Boston” is now living at the Hlatikulu Crane Centre.

Tanya Smith and Bossy

Tanya Smith and Bossy

It was David’s idea to extend the listing of sightings on a monthly basis to all fauna and flora– an idea that was later adopted by the Midlands Conservancies Forum. When the Boston Conservancy ceased to operate on a formal basis in about 2008, David began compiling a list of sightings which he distributed to the locals. He would keep an ear out at gatherings at the Country Club or elsewhere for any interesting snippets. We firmly believe that David’s gentle badgering of people for their observations had led to an increased interest in the environment and a greater awareness of the need for the conservation of special areas.

Twané Clarke of the Karkloof Conservancy said: “David was an inspiration to all who had the delight in meeting him. His Boston Sightings newsletter was a monthly highlight to our inbox, and his dedication certainly paid off by encouraging other Conservancies to start taking inventory of what they were seeing too. These monthly sighting contributions are now being enjoyed by thousands of people in over 136 different countries worldwide. He was a team player and embraced the concept of Conservancies working together and motivating each other. We will miss him and his cheerful encouragement, but his legacy will live on.”

CREW: Barbara, Christeen and David in Impendle

CREW: Barbara, Christeen and David in Impendle

After retiring for the second time (first as a professor of accountancy, and then from dairy farming) he and Barbara spent more time pursuing their interest in wildflowers, and many happy hours were spent in the veld looking at plants and recording them for the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW).

Isabel Johnson of the Botanical Society of S.A. said: “He was a special person. I will always remember how much fun we had looking for special plants at Edgeware, Impendle, Mount Ashley and so many other places. His great patience and good humour when I dragged him off on immensely boring grassland surveys. He was a fantastic ecological spy and gave us many helpful early warnings of what was happening in the Boston community and district. His monthly species reports have been an inspiration to a number of conservancies. David’s contributions to conservation were of huge value and will always be valued. I will miss him.

David and Barbara on Mt Edgeware in Boston

David and Barbara on Mt Edgeware in Boston

He began accompanying me on outings to do atlasing for the Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP2) and soon became hooked on birding. The Clulows and I had several adventures while exploring the areas between Boston and Bulwer, one involving a flat tyre which might be better not to repeat here. There are still a few pentads with a lack of data that we were planning to tackle soon. I don’t relish the prospect of doing it on my own. We also took part in the annual Cape Parrot count in the Boston area for the University of KZN. Sadly, on the last two counts we did, there were no parrots to report.

Cape Parrot count Nhlosane Ridge 2013

Cape Parrot count iNhlosane Ridge 2013

On a personal level I treasure the friendship between the Clulow and Wilson families over many years as neighbours. We received support and encouragement in many ways. I admired David’s enthusiasm for life, strong belief in justice and sharp sense of humour. He will be sorely missed.

Notice:
David Arthur Clulow, 2.10.37 to 28.10.2015. Husband of Barbara, father of Alistair and Megan, Suzie and Jared, much loved gramps of Noah, Fynn, Hannah and Nathan, brother of Jean and Sheila, passed away peacefully.
Memorial service at Gramarye, Farm 309 on the Everglades Rd, Boston, at 14h00 on Thursday 5 November. Open house at Clulow home in Amber Ridge on 11 November, 10h30 – 16h00.
In lieu of flowers suggest donations to the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

The Three Cranes and their Landowner Custodians

Article from the KZN Crane Foundation‘s Summer Newsletter and written by Charlie MacGillivray, Chairman of the Karkloof Conservancy and KZNCF Committee Member.


"First world and hi-tech farming operations, with high input and high output (yields), can operate cheek by jowl with some of the endangered (red data) species of birds such as the Blue, Grey Crowned and the criticalled endangered Wattled Cranes" Charlie MacGillivray

For many Farmers, there is a very real sense of pride and more importantly “ownership” of the flocks of some, or in fact where fortunate, all three of these stately birds occur.

Grey Crowned Cranes on Loskop farm in the Karkloof

Grey Crowned Cranes on Loskop farm in the Karkloof

This privilege is often recognised by Custodian signs and ought to be regarded as a fulfilment of symbiotic co-existence and success.

Many farmers in the Karkloof are recognised as Crane Custodians.

Many farmers in the Karkloof are recognised as Crane Custodians.

Cranes are truly magnificent birds and beautiful to behold. They depict humour in their behaviour, grace in flight and delight in song.

Grey Crowned Cranes gossiping - By Patrick Cahill

Grey Crowned Cranes at the Karkloof Conservation Centre – By Patrick Cahill

Blue Cranes dancing on Colbourne farm - By John Hill

Blue Cranes dancing on Colbourne farm – By John Hill

Pair of Wattled Cranes at the Karkloof Conservation Centre - By Patrick Cahill

Pair of Wattled Cranes at the Karkloof Conservation Centre – By Patrick Cahill

The real thrill for me and I know for many landowners fortunate (thoughtful) enough to have these graceful inhabitants, is that with a little care and courtesy, there is room for ALL of us. Our yardstick being their continued proliferation, with increasing flock sizes in as many different localities as possible.

Large flock of about 50 to 60 Grey Crowned Cranes are often seen in the Karkloof.

A large flock of about 50 to 60 Grey Crowned Cranes are often seen in the Karkloof.

The real threat and the cause of the dire dearth of the flocks of yore, is because their ideal habitats have been transformed by agricultural (and lifestyle) use and in some cases misuse. Here forestry is also seriously implicated.

This delightful picture by the learners of Gartmore Primary School depicts the 3 crane species in an agricultural environment. A common sighting for most of the children.

This delightful picture by the learners of Gartmore Primary School depicts the 3 crane species in an agricultural environment.

It is not always blatantly wilful actions, but often through ignorance by failing to ask ourselves the obvious question, “What will be the consequence if I proceed with what and how I/we do things?”

Blue Crane at the Karkloof Conservation Centre - By Patrick Cahill

Blue Crane at the Karkloof Conservation Centre – By Patrick Cahill

We need to be more attuned to the dependence and interdependence of ALL components of our environment to ensure the integrity of bio-diversity. More emphasis on the primary organisms of our eco-systems, and the role played in ensuring sustainability further up the “food chain”.

Ren Stubbs, a member of the Karkloof Conservancy, showing the earthworms which is No-Till farmings greatest ally.

Earthworms are No-Till farmings greatest ally.

Landowners hold the trump card in the proliferation of our precious Cranes, and it is our role to help where there is some ignorance, encourage and assist where there is uncertainty, and to exercise influence on as many people as possible, to ensure the future of our threatened populations.

Blue Cranes on Gartmore Farm

Blue Cranes on Gartmore Farm

The respective calls of the three Cranes serve as our commentary on the success of our endeavours, and should remain the highlight of any day.

A pair of Wattled Cranes with their offspring on Gartmore Farm.

A pair of Wattled Cranes with their offspring on Gartmore Farm.

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.”

Carolyn Goble chats to Ian Player.res

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.”

Thenjiwe Ngcobo, Carolyn Goble, Flo Buthelezi, Andrew Anderson res

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