Tag Archives: mistbelt forest

Forest, Fireflies and Camping

Written by Janine Smith, Chairlady of the Midlands Conservancies Forum and Regional Secretary for the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Honorary Officers.


Sixteen kids aged between 3.5 years and 11 years old spent two wonderfully exciting days at Bushwillow Caravan Park in the Karkloof, accompanied by parents and grandparent.


This is thanks to the founders John and Linnet Crow, and Twané Clarke whose dream to give kids in the area the opportunity to learn to love and enjoy the outdoors has become a reality as a result of their hard work and dedication to KRANES club. KRANES is a joint project between the Karkloof Conservancy and the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Lions River Honorary Officers, and this partnership has proven to be invaluable over the 2 years that this club has been running.


This weekend was the first camp out for the club. On Saturday morning, 3 December 2017, excitement filled the air at the caravan park as kids began their weekend of camping and fellowship with other similarly minded children. There were rules that were set. The first was that kids were to assist in setting up the tents.


It was amazing to see all of them knocking pegs into the ground with mallets and running hither and thither taking camping gear out of vehicles, whilst all the time keeping their eyes on the dam, which promised so much fun, but they had a job to do and got on with it.


Finally the beckoning dam was “in bounds” for these hard workers. Next rule, children had to wear life jackets and be accompanied by an adult if they were on the edge or in the dam. A rush to find the life jackets and fishing rods to catch that big one followed, with John teaching them a few basics. Bread was the preferred bait and it certainly was the right choice. Fish of all sizes were caught in abundance. The rods, with the fish on the hook, were hurriedly brought up the bank for all the parents to admire, then dash back to the dam to release the fish (only to be caught again later). The kids had great fun and the fish were well fed. Then they all jumped into the water and had an absolute ball until 14h00 when they were called to the clubhouse for orientation and forest rules were explained and discussed.

Twané sat all the kids in a circle and asked each one to choose an animal beginning with the same letter of the alphabet that their names began with and to share what they loved most about nature and the outdoors. Listening to their explanations of why they loved being in nature was an eye opener, replies ranged from enjoying seeing the flowers in the veld, to sightings and identification of birds, insects and mammals. Ethan Gillings, who is 3.5 years old, said he loved Reedbuck because when they pooed in his yard he collected the droppings to put in the garden, but he didn’t like it when Zebra came and used their garden as a toilet because that was not such nice poo.


Then it was time for the family scavenger hunt, which was lead by Linnet. Each family was given a map of the park and had to find and retrieve various articles from the forest, grasslands and dams. This clever idea was for everyone to become aware of the surrounding area. The kids also learnt to read a map and keep their eyes open whilst walking. When everyone returned to the camp site, the dam called again and a great afternoon of swimming, canoeing and fishing followed.

That evening the kids each helped to make a braai fire safely. This was a highlight as they were even allowed to light the fire themselves.


They were given dough which they put onto a stick (stokbrood) and cooked over the fire. Patience waiting for the dough to cook was put to the test. Then the best of all, syrup was poured into the hole made by the stick.


After everyone had eaten, the campsite looked like a Christmas tree with all the torches dashing around as kids went searching for fireflies and frogs followed by some quiet time and stargazing.


Tired kids and parents had an early night.


Dawn on Sunday beckoned everyone to the dam and once again this body of water became a hive of activity, after kids were chameleons and trees during the sunrise forest yoga.


After a relaxed breakfast, the kids were lead on a forest walk by Linnet and Twané. Twané had explained to the children the difference between a forest and a plantation, so off they went into the indigenous mistbelt forest to look and learn. At about midday the trekkers returned looking fulfilled and tired. Another quick swim in the dam before it was time to pack up camp. Each family left armed with a booklet “My Forest Experience” that the team had put together which included different types of forests, a forest code (leave nothing but footprints), why our forests need to be protected, critters that can be found in forests, signs of the forest (spoor to look out for) and so much more.


Well done to the KRANES team. It was amazing to see kids playing and learning together in nature. No one missed TV or cell phones and the children were taught responsibility and self-discipline. Keep up the good work and thanks for the many hours that you put into these children’s lives. You are helping to foster a generation of conservationists.


The kids found a Yellow-striped Reed Frog amongst the reeds in the dam.

For more information about KRANES and to sign your children up to the mailing list, please visit the Karkloof Conservancy website or email us: karkloofconservation.org.za / info@karkloofconservation.org.za

Karkloof Wildlife Sightings – February 2015

Besides being a short month, February was also a busy one in the Karkloof – the maize which stood “as high as an elephant’s eye” was harvested, so Gartmore hide is now surrounded by bare fields (filled with lots of Spur-winged Geese, Egyptian Geese, Blacksmith Lapwings, Speckled Pigeons, Red-eyed Doves, Cape Turtle-Doves, Grey Crowned Cranes and Wattled Cranes), Karin Nelson had a bird ringing morning, and the Three Cranes Challenge saw a host of volunteers assembling to cater for the ‘maniacal‘ marathon runners.

Karkloof Conservation Centre – Patrick Cahill

We had a new visitor to the Gartmore pan who is now included on our bird list – a Hottentot Teal.

Hottentot Teal

Hottentot Teal

It was much easier photographing their relatives, the Red-billed Teals, as their bills don’t get camouflaged against the reflection of the blue sky in the water!

Red-billed Teal

Red-billed Teal

The local rodent, frog and reptile populations must have experience a rapid decrease in February with all the raptors that were out and perched on the centre-pivots.

Amur Falcon

Amur Falcon

These included the Amur Falcon, Jackal Buzzard, Yellow-billed Kites, Steppe Buzzard, Long-crested Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, African Marsh-Harrier and the African Fish-Eagles.

Steppe Buzzard

Steppe Buzzard

Please remember to avoid using poisons to control your rat populations and seek “raptor-friendly” options!

Other sightings included: White Stork, Cape Crow, Hadeda Ibis, African Sacred Ibis, Southern Bald Ibis, Southern Red Bishop, Barn Swallow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Red-collared Widowbird, Long-tailed Widowbird, Yellow-billed Duck, Red-billed Teal, Cape Weaver, Woolly-necked Stork, Diderick Cuckoo, Black-headed Heron, Hamerkop, Wattled Lapwing, African Stonechat, African Black Swift, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Fork-tailed Drongo, Black Saw-wing, Dark-capped Bulbul, Village Weaver, Zitting Cisticola, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Common Fiscal, South African Shelduck, White-throated Swallow, Whiskered Tern, Common Moorhen,

Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern

White-breasted Cormorant, Reed Cormorant, Bronze Mannikin, Cape Wagtail, African Jacana, Common House-Martin, Common Waxbill, Red-billed Quelea, Black Crake, Blue Crane, Yellow-fronted Canary, Cape Shoveler, Little Grebe, Lesser Striped Swallow, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Levaillant’s Cisticola, White-faced Duck, Amethyst Sunbird, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Black-winged Lapwing, Little Rush-Warbler and Burchell’s Coucal.

African Jacana

African Jacana

It’s all about the little things – Hugh Watson

Hugh Watson, a regular visitor to the Karkloof Conservation Centre bird hides took these breathtaking photographs during his recent visit. Can you spot Wally, the yellow spider?

KK Feb 7 KK Feb 10 KK Feb 9 KK Feb 8

Spitzkop Farm – Tim Hancock

My sighting is very vague – it looked like an Eurasian Hobby – from the falcon like head and very curved back wings and thin tail (just like a big swallow) repeatedly dive bombing what appeared to be a Steppe Buzzard – too far to actually be definite.

Cricket vs.Twitching – Johnny Bouwer

On Saturday morning the 28 February, I was faced with the choice of lying in bed and watching the Kiwi’s thrash the Auzzies in the WC or head out to the rainy & wet Midlands to the Karkloof Conservation Centre.

KK Feb 14

I was rewarded with a some awesome sightings, so I believe I made the right call. At first I thought the birds were probably all snuggled up in bed watching the cricket.

KK Feb 13

White-throated Swallow

KK Feb 11

Pied Kingfisher

These photographs are of a White-throated Swallow, Pied Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Ducks and a pair of intimate Brown-throated Martins.

KK Feb 12

Yellow-billed Ducks

KK Feb 18

Brown-throated Martins

The 3 Cranes Challenge – John and Linnet Crow

Friday was a day in Fairyland, after a beautiful sunrise and being situated in the forest at Karkloof Canopy Tours.

KK Feb 19

The sunlight reflecting off the wings of the butterflies and dragonflies could have been glimpses of fairies.

KK Feb 20

The Samango monkeys and Loeries (now known as a Turaco) watched the show as the competitors enjoyed the canopy tour. The floor moved as the bright yellow crabs and finches carried on with their activities.

KK Feb 21

The troll that I heard turned out not to be a troll, but Kai from the canopy tours coming to check how everything was going.

Saturday was a day of watching runners appear from and disappear back into the mist

KK Feb 22

and looking for some of the little things.

KK Feb 24

A juvenile fiscal shrike kept us company for a while.

KK Feb 25

Sunday did not show us the same spectacular sunrise as last year, but the surface of the dam displayed an incredible reflection.

KK Feb 28

The signs were there that the caracal had departed not long before we arrived.

KK Feb 29

The dam at Bushwillow Park was a welcome sight at the end of the 3 days.

KK Feb 30

Bird Ringing @ Gartmore Hide – Karin Nelson

On the 11 February, Karin Nelson hosted a bird ringing day at our Conservation Centre. The day was well attended and we were pleased to see all the homeschoolers that made use of the activity as part of their studies.

Village Weaver waiting to be collected. The netting gently captures the bird. Qualified bird-ringers know all the tricks so that they may safely remove the bird without any injury. Photograph by Richard Booth.

There were also some visitors who were curious about how ringing impacts the birds, but were very pleased to see how gentle and competent Karin is and that the birds were so calm during the process. Karin caught a total of 75 birds with 5 of these being re-traps.

Red-billed Quelea being measured by qualified bird-ringer, Karin Nelson. Photograph by Richard Booth.

These included: 47 x Red-billed Quelea; 7 x African Reed-Warbler; 6 x Village Weavers; 4 x Southern Red Bishop; 2 x Drakensberg Prinia; 2 x Yellow-fronted Canaries; 2 x Levaillant’s Cisticola; 2 x Fan-tailed Widowbirds; 1 x Pin-tailed Whydah; 1 x Dark-capped Bulbul; and 1 x African Stonechat.

Pluviophiles in the Karkloof – Twané Clarke

“Pluviophile: (n) A lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.”

One afternoon when I noticed a build up of dark clouds, I decided to hightail it to the Gartmore hide and see what’s out and about during the rain.

KK Feb 33

Firstly, I noticed a Yellow-billed Duck wandered the pan alone,

KK Feb 34

Yellow-billed Duck

then I saw a flock of Barn Swallows flying in the distance with two breaking away to rest on a branch,

KK Feb 35

Barn Swallows

and the last bird I saw was a lonely little White-throated Swallow.

KK Feb 36

White-throated Swallow

These birds all weathered the storm and remained there the entire time. I arrived back at the office a drowned rat, but a happy one indeed!

Midlands Wildflower for November – Carissa bispinosa

Common name: Forest num-num, Zulu name: umVusankunzi

On a recent walk in the Dargle mistbelt forest, visitors saw many of these lovely understorey shrubs in flower. The glossy foliage and fragrant, starry-white, jasmine-like flowers make quite a show and often, the red berries are found on the plant at the same time. The small, ovoid, fruits are edible and delicious and make good jams and jellies (if you can collect enough!).

Visitors to the KZN coast will be familiar with the scarlet fruits of Carissa macroparpa or Amathungulu.

Carissa bispinosa is a scrambling shrub (1-4m) – evergreen, dense and twiggy, with forked spines on the branches that make Carissa an excellent choice for hedges. The sweetly scented flowers and fruit attract butterflies, insects and birds, while game browse the leaves. The roots are used medicinally to treat toothache.

carissa bispinosa.sq res

On the first Thursday of every month, The Dargle Conservancy, in conjunction with Barend Booysen, hosts a forest walk at Kilgobbin Cottage. Phone Barend for further details 082-787 0797.   On the third Sunday of each month, Katie Robinson hosts a forest walk at Lemonwood – Phone 082 052 6072.  Balgowan Conservancy forest walks are at Midlands Forest Lodge on the second Thursday – Phone Di Acres 082 904 6559 , and at Milestone on the first Friday – Phone Marily Reverz 082 427 3365. Karkloof Conservancy hosts a walk at Mbona on the third Friday – Phone Keith Cooper 082 574 1958. These are wonderful opportunities to see Carissa bispinosa and other forest species up close. Cost R20.00 per person.

Tree Enthusiasts are Enthralled

Everybody won on the two day Forest Ecology Course held in Dargle recently. Eugene Moll, who lives in Cape Town now, got to spend time in the forests he remembers so fondly from his student days, to relax on the veranda of Crowned Eagle Cottage listening to tree dassies call at night and to stir up some controversy around the trees we thought we knew. All his favourite things!

r group forest

Participants were enchanted by his enthusiasm and knowledge and couldn’t believe their luck at having such an expert on hand for a few days. The gorgeous Cairn of Old Kilgobbin provided the perfect venue beside the mist belt forest, the days were sunny and there was hand-made lemon cordial on tap. Life doesn’t get much better than this – especially when you are learning about something as special as our forests.

r eugene explains

In 1965 Eugene completed his Master’s thesis on the Vegetation of the Upper uMngeni Catchment. That is above Midmar dam. He admitted that he got some facts pretty wrong and has since changed his mind about a couple of things. One being that the forests had shrunk greatly. They are not. He told us that in the first surveys of ‘forest’ areas, all the grasslands in between were included! “Forests are aggressive things” he said “Controlled by fire. It is our grasslands we need to protect as they are really ancient – certainly older than most forest trees. Grasslands have shrunk alarmingly.”

r eugene

His views on fire were interesting too. He believed that we have got the burning all wrong nowadays and the very best time to burn grassland is when there is less than 40% humidity, temperatures higher than 40 degrees and the wind speed is about 40 kilometres an hour. We could all imagine the LRFPA having a heart attack!

One thing we all learned was to QUESTION things. To think about what makes a peach a peach, for instance. If we understand the basic characteristics of familiar plants we find in our gardens, we will have a much easier time trying to identify new trees.

r Penz Reshnee Sarah

Everyone was keen to try our they plant id skills using the Keys in various Guide books. Just to confuse everyone Eugene included two samples of Kiggelaria Africana (Wild Peach) – one branch from a mature tree and a twig from a little sapling. They were COMPLETELY different and had everyone puzzled for ages.

r puzzling

Eugene was rather disparaging about many of often difficult to use and ‘unfriendly’ keys. The botanical jargon is hard to understand, descriptions of many characters are too general and photos are non-specific. “What is the point of a photo of the entire tree, when all you can see in the forest is the bark?” he asks.

So we learn that the Guide books are exactly that, guides. Nothing beats in the field observation. Walking, looking, feeling, tasting and comparing.   “The same trees can be completely different from one area to another” commented Eugene, in awe of the huge specimens of Dais cotonifolia we came across. “In the Cape these are tiny scrubby things,” he told us.

r Brian Barend David

Eugene has produced a book called What’s that Tree? A starter’s guide to the trees of southern Africa, which he believes does a good job of highlighting the diagnostic features of each species – for example if ‘three veins from the base of the leaves’ is an important feature, he includes a picture of exactly that. Richard Booth, from Karkloof commented “I really enjoyed Eugene’s wisdom.”

r group eugen old kilgobbin

Most of the course we spent outdoors under the forest canopy. Each tree has a little space around it if viewed from the air, we learnt. The tree tops brush against one another and keep each tree separate.

r canopy

We came across an old logging pit where a Yellowwood had been felled many years ago for use in local houses. This illustrated perfectly how we have now lost the ability to live locally, on local resources. We have become ‘Biosphere people’ using resources from all over the globe in our daily lives.

rr IMG_2837

Eugene prefers to call Podocarpus (Yellowwoods), Afrocarpus, which he feels is a more accurate description. We hugged some really big ones and had heated discussions about ‘the twisted petiole’ of P. henkelii! He also feels pretty certain that none of the trees in the forest are over 500 years old.

r hugging tree

Sarah Ellis made a note of 45 trees during our walk in Kilgobbin forest and when she got home looked them all up to learn more about them. “I am certain I won’t recognise more than half of them on my own but writing them down and reading up about each one is a start!”

r lets look that up

We learnt how specimens of Clausena anisata (perdepis) probably got mixed up with specimens of Hippobromus by the early collectors. The scientific name Hippobromus means ‘smell of horse’, but when the dried specimens were finally described, the smell had gone from the leaves, so there was no way of telling which was which!r hand leaf

We felt the stickiness of Protamophila prehensilis and the velvety leaves of Quisqualis parviflora admired Briophytes and Epiphytes, tasted Asparagus stalks and smelt Lemonwood leaves. Naturally, we got down on our knees to find interesting things in the stream, including nematodes and damselfly larvae.

r barend and penz

Kathy Milford won’t forget the course in a hurry. “The most memorable thing for me was the crazy expert peering through his treasured old magnifying glass with a chipped frame, at a little leaf and his saying ‘this must be a Diosypyros whyteana, look at those orange hairs on the edge of the leaf’. That was a special moment, and when I looked through the magnifying glass there were the most beautiful little orange hairs that became larger than life. I felt like Alice in Wonderland! He showed us the most amazing little details on the leaves and trees which would normally have escaped my attention! Wonderful”

r moss

Penelope Malinga agreed “I will pay a lot more attention to the small details in future.” Penelope also loved seeing Samango monkeys for the first time. A troop was feasting on the fresh green Celtis leaves right above our heads as we explored the forest edge.

r samango celtis

We learnt so many fascinating facts like: Insects are the biggest herbivores and that woody plants (C3) utilise higher levels of carbon dioxide. Eugene demonstrated how to make rope from the bark of Dais cotonifolia (Grewia occidentalis also used for the is purpose), and we learned the vines of Dalbergia obovata  are used to make fishing baskets.  Sarah Ellis “I found Eugene fascinating, with such a huge passion and depth of knowledge. How fortunate we are to have spent time with a man of this calibre. I also enjoyed meeting and chatting to some of the other like-minded people on the course.”

r looking up

Oriah and Kei Ellis, who are home schooled in Dargle, used the opportunity for some outdoor learning.  “The tree ecology course was a great experience – learning about the different shapes of leaves, learning through the interactions with others, and how to simply identify trees.  I also enjoyed taking a walk through Barend’s forest, eating cookies and making new friends!  ” said Oriah afterwards.

r kei oriah sam

Alison Lettinger came all the way from Creighton and was so pleased she had. “Two days in a delightful setting with kindred spirits. I am so glad I made the effort to attend. Kilgobbin is one of the most beautiful, accessible and diverse forests that I have been in. My favourite was hearing snippets of info and opinions from Eugene. Such as not tree rings in South Africa not being annual rings, but growth rings.  Intriguing that the red fruit of Acokanthera is toxic but ripens to palatable as it turns black.”

r leaf litter

Reshnee Lalla of SANBI felt she really learnt a lot and collected some samples of the invasive blue periwinkle growing on the forest edge.

Julie and Richard Braby, who live in Underberg, enjoyed their time with other people as passionate about plants as they are. “We felt we were in another world for those two days and were sad to get home. The venue was fantastic. The talk and very good food at Tanglewood in the evening in the company of Dargle Conservancy members, was wonderful.”

rr carol and barend

Barend Booysen, who is custodian of the section of forest we spent time in, had a marvellous time. “I really thought I knew this forest backwards. I have been humbled by all the things I have never noticed before and my head is spinning with all the new information. I learnt so much. What a delightful man.” David Crowe added “The two day workshop was informative and worthwhile.”

rr IMG_2842

Eugene Moll is a retired professor from the Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at the University of the Western Cape. He holds a PhD in plant ecology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He edited the first edition of the Keith Coates Palgrave’s Trees of Southern Africa, and has authored and co-authored many guides and papers on trees and the ecology of woody plants.

rr picnic in forest

Sarah Ellis compiled this: KILGOBBIN FOREST TREE LIST

  • Rapanea melanophloeos – Cape Beech
  • Tricalysia africana – Pondo Jackal-coffee
  • Ficus craterostoma – strangler fig
  • Scutia myrtina – cat thorn
  • Veronia mespilifolia – veronia
  • Buddleja dysophylla – White climbing sagewood
  • Ptaeroxylon obliquum – Sneezewood
  • Euclea natalensis – hairy guarri
  • Diospyros whyteana – bladder nut
  • Harpephyllum caffrum – wild plum
  • Dias cotinifolia – pompon tree
  • Grewia occidentalis – cross berry raisin
  • Vepris lanceolata – white ironwood
  • Dombeya rotundifolia – wild pear
  • Trimeria grandifolia – wild mulberry
  • Xymalos monospora – lemonwood
  • Gymnosporia harveyana – round fruit forest spike thorn (was Maytenus mossambicensis) Kiggelaria africana – wild peach
  • Combretum edwardsii – forest climbing bush willow
  • Cassinopsis ilicifolia – lemon thorn
  • Prunus africana – red stink wood
  • Combretum krausii – forest bush willow
  • Dalbergia obovata – climbing flat bean
  • Cussonia spicata – cabbage tree
  • Diospyros whyteana – bladder nut – ginger hairs on edge of leaves
  • Podocarpus falcatus – yellow wood
  • Podocarpus henkelii – drooping leaf yellow wood
  • Podocarpus latifolius – broad leaf yellow wood
  • Strophanthus speciosus forest poison rope
  • Cnestis polyphylla – itch pod
  • Ilex mitis – Cape holly
  • Celtis africana – white stink wood
  • Carissa bispinosa – num num
  • Rhamnus prunoides – glossy leaf (blink blaar)
  • Dovyalis rhamnoides – Sourberry Kei-apple
  • Clutia pulchella – lightning bush
  • Apodytes dimidiata – white pear
  • Ocotea bullata – black stink wood
  • Eugenia zuluensis – paperbark myrtle
  • Clausina anisata – perdepis
  • Cryptocarya myrtifolia – myrtle wild quince
  • Calpurnia aurea – wild laburnum
  • Vepris lanceolata – white ironwood
  • Canthium inerme – turkey berry


Take Nothing but Wonderful Memories

Dargle Primary School Grade 6 and 7 classes were very excited about their trip to the Dargle Nature Reserve last week, but first decided on a few rules.

  • To be quiet in the forest
  • To be kind and helpful to each other
  • To respect the forest and its inhabitants.

forest walk  by Stephen Pryke r

Using Share-net booklets on forests and grasslands, Gugu Zuma and Eidin Griffin of the Midlands Meander Education Project helped them look at all the possible animals we might find in the forest. We also learnt a new word – ‘nocturnal’ – before Dennis Sokhela, of Old Kilgobbin Farm, arrived in the kombi to fetch us. We gathered up our water bottles and hats and set off for Kilgobbin forest.

r Barend and Dargle school kids forest

Barend Booysen greeted us warmly as we sorted our picnic into different rucksacks and met his very excited dogs. The children were initially frightened by the enthusiastic canine welcome committee but the two new Labrador puppies soon had them giggling and playing happily. Leaving the dogs behind, we headed into the forest. Barend explained how he and Helen look after the forest and why we need to leave only footprints.

forest sign r

As we walked along the sun dappled paths, Barend pointed out interesting trees including wonderful yellowwoods in different stages of life from 20 years to 1000 years old and showed us how to differentiate between the various leaves. Everyone was thrilled to spot some Samango monkeys browsing on new leaves in the trees. We sat for some quiet time, breathing in the clean air and breathing out all our cares. Mlungisi was amazed at the old trees saying “Wow, you will never find a person that is 200 years old.”

r Mlungisi in forest

Barend had the children really intrigued when he took out his cellphone, played bird sounds and then the birds came to visit! So exciting! The children recognised different bird sounds and were lucky enough to see two African Harrier Hawks skimming above the canopy.  Finding porcupine scat and looking at where the bush buck and bushpig scratch themselves on trees was also a thrill. They got to swing on a liana and investigate mosses and lichens.

r swinginging on liana forest

We headed up a steep hill to our picnic spot in the forest. After healthy sandwiches, oranges and a chocolate muffin the children carefully packed away their packaging and we climbed up and out into the grasslands.

r kids top of kilgobbin hill

Finding a comfortable shady spot under some flowering Ouhout trees we settled down again for a story. Eidin choose ‘The Lorax’ by Dr. Seuss. It was a perfect story as we chatted about how we need to protect our indigenous forests and all their precious inhabitants.


Then we hopped and skipped across the hayfields and had a little playtime on the raft at the dam before arriving back at Kilgobbin where everyone hugged Barend and clambered into the kombi before Carl Bronner drove everyone back to school.

r Dargle kids on raft

Eidin said “We had an utterly magic day. It could be described as the perfect day.” Gugu added enthusiastically “We had so much fun and learnt so much. What a wonderful place. I would like to bring the kids from my Zenzane and Nxamalala Enviro Clubs here too.”

The children LOVED their adventure in the forest with ‘Papa Ben’ and have started writing stories and drawing pictures about their experience. Thanks to Dargle Conservancy for giving these children such an incredible experience. Big hugs to Barend for his generosity of time and spirit – he children were especially impressed when he challenged them to catch him and raced off across the hayfields! It would not have been possible to get all the children back and forth without the help of Carl Bronner and Dennis Sokhela, so we are very thankful to them too. What a wonderful and inspiring day.