Tag Archives: Rosetta

Our River, Our Responsibility

A small river which is entirely ours

…and therefore entirely our responsibility

– By Adrian Flett of Rosetta/Nottingham Road Conservancy

A small but significant tributary of the Mooi River rises in the hills to the west of Nottingham Road, flows eastwards and under the R103 at the edge of the village. It feeds an extensive wetland and flows north towards Rosetta, where it again passes under the R103 and is the source of Rosetta Dam before it joins the Mooi River. This makes it a contributor to water in Midmar Dam through the Mearns Transfer pipeline and therefore a source of water for Durban and Pietermaritzburg as well as several other smaller centres.


We have been told that years ago the local children caught fish in this small river, which we have heard referred to as Springvale Stream and for want of another name right now, we will use that name here.

Springvale Stream faces so many challenges and impacts in its relatively short journey to the Mooi, that it is difficult to imagine a worse situation for a rural river. And although many of us pass the stream at least once a week, we are so used to what has been happening over the years that we simply accept what has and is being done. The whole catchment of the river is within the boundaries of the RNR Conservancy and offers a great opportunity – and a great challenge.


The less disturbed riparian areas along the river have so many flowers that it makes us wonder what the original little river with its wetlands must have been like: a real wild garden! There is not much we can do about some of the impacts but we can certainly take care of what we have left and it would be gross negligence not to do so. We hope to survey sections of the stream little by little to build up a picture of the biological diversity and we will be asking for specialist help for some of this work. But in the meantime we appeal to all the community to be aware of “Our River” and the activities along its course.

The wetland contains multiple flower species and deserves a formal survey.

The wetland contains multiple flower species and deserves a formal survey.

The main stream rises in hills partially covered in plantation forestry. When it reaches Nottingham Road and the R103 it has to contend with various industrial developments and we see that “platforms” are still being made for further development out into the wetland which has colonies of kniphofia and gladiolus (probably dalenii both bright orange and brown) . Have these developments all had the go-ahead from an Environmental Impact Assessment? Surely not! Has the stream reached the stage of being written off environmentally?


The R103 itself has had an impact on the water flow into the river but the good news is that Shea O’Connor School is a WESSA Eco School and have taken the small tributary on their school grounds seriously. The railway line of course has had a huge impact on Springvale Stream and its wetlands. We cannot change the road or the railway line but we can monitor pollution along these and remove alien invasive plants like bramble.

The stream flows immediately below the rocks which form the bank on the R103 where a truck recently broke through the Armco barrier and had to be winched back to the road. The rock hyrax colony lives in these tumbled rocks.

The stream flows immediately below the rocks which form the bank on the R103. A truck recently broke through the Armco barrier and had to be winched back to the road. The rock hyrax colony lives in these tumbled rocks.

A new and very large impact on the Springvale Stream is the building of the Springrove Dam transfer pipeline. Again, this cannot be altered but some of the activities related to the pipeline require mitigation. An immediate example is the gravel platform at the entrance to Springvale Farm just off the R103 where this gravel is eroding into a wetland area filled with wild flowers and at least one “muti” plant, Gunnera perpensa.

springrove dam

Springrove dam

Along the middle section of the stream, conservation-based farming attitudes have ensured that reedbuck may frequently be seen from the R103 in the early mornings and evenings, especially towards sundown on cool evenings. This is very satisfying and is an example of how wildlife can be encouraged even when there are adverse conditions, such as a busy road and a noisy railway line in close proximity. The little colony of rock hyrax mentioned in Newsletter One is also on an edge of this farm and is further referred to in this newsletter, where Jan was able to save the life of a member of the colony.


The presence of wildlife, birds and flowers are such positive factors that we are sure that great results can be won from the conservation of this stream system. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to boast of a botanical beauty spot on the Midlands Meander? We look forward to bringing you more news of and reports on Springvale Stream.

Selfies with Snakes!

The newly launched Rosetta/Nottingham Road Conservancy kicked off the New Year with two great talks by renowned snake expert, Pat McKrill. They were each a great success and we look forward to inviting Pat to talk to us again in the future.  Sarah Ellis compiled this report.

hands Snakes 019

The first talk was primarily aimed at farm staff and gardeners and proved to be a real hit. We had approximately 75 locals, staff and a few school kids attend a very informative and interactive lecture under the trees at the NRLA Hall grounds which had everyone spellbound.

15 01 Snakes 033

Before the talk I asked Pat how good his Zulu was and he replied that when he had a live snake in his hands, he always had 100% concentration from everyone and everyone understood everything he said, even if he wasn’t 100% fluent in Zulu and how right he was!

pat and Snakes 001

Pat explained that snakes were very like us and were only interested in finding food (mostly rats and frogs), a house to live in (such as woodpiles and dark areas to hide in) and that they also spent time looking for boyfriends or girlfriends! He had a couple of harmless and slightly venomous local and exotic snakes in boxes which he held up for us all to see and he encouraged everyone to hold and touch them.

15 01 Snakes 008

This was something most of the audience were extremely reluctant, if not terrified, to do but by the end, quite a few people had had a turn holding and feeling a snake and had experienced their cool non-slimy skin.

15 01 Snakes 012

It was interesting to note that most of the older men in the audience couldn’t bring themselves to do this but that most of the younger members were happy to do so and that they all wanted to pose for cellphone photos of themselves with a snake to show their friends!

15 01 Snakes 039

The event even turned into a bit of a photo-shoot which was a very unexpected and positive spin-off from the talk as they delighted in talking about the “show and tell” sessions they would have later with their friends.

15 01 Snakes 031

Pat also demonstrated very successfully how snakes would never harm us unless they felt threatened. He released snakes onto the ground within a circle of people who stood absolutely still and they quietly slithered around looking for a gap to escape without harming anyone – an American Boa also calmly slithered over a seated lady while on its way!

15 01 Snakes 026

The message was loud and clear: if you see a snake, stand still and it will move off as we are too big to be considered dinner and PLEASE don’t kill it as they do an enormous amount of good eating (mostly) rats.

15 01 Snakes 015

After the talk at Rawdons that evening we all decided that Pat should have his own TV show – he was so entertaining and interesting with all his animated snake facts and anecdotes. We were fascinated by what he had to say and could have listened for hours – do you know that a lady snake can keep sperm for up to 4 years until she decides to “use” it? He showed us a red-lipped herald which was now full of eggs even though he had had her on her own for 3 years! This talk, which was also pleasingly attended by about 75 people, was obviously more detailed and interactive and also provided an opportunity for interested people to handle these misunderstood reptiles.

15 01 Snakes 010

This talk was funding by N3TC through the MCF Environmental Learning and Leadership programme.  Thank you Pat for a wonderful start to our monthly Conservancy talks!

Spring in Rosetta and Notties

A new Conservancy is being fledged in the area of KZN bounded by the Mooi River system on the north western side, the N3 in the north east, the road between Nottingham Road and the N3, and the Nottingham Road/Loteni Road. It is an area rich in grasslands, wetlands and water courses – the natural home of the serval – logo of the Rosetta Nottingham Road Conservancy.

Recently much interesting wildlife has been observed in the area, including Woolly-necked Storks who pop into Greenfields Butchery in the middle of Notties for snacks!

Chris had a Grey Duiker visit  her garden and has seen many sacred ibis on the wall of the dam in the background.

duiker in garden

Besides an array of splendid spring flowers, Sarah reported seeing helmeted guineafowl, longtailed widow birds, yellow-billed kites, the freshly-shed skin of a puffadder and stunning Scadoxus.

On the edge of the R103 between Nottingham Road and Rosetta is a small rock outcrop where Penny spotted dassies (rock hyrax) last year. Recently she has glimpsed one and wonders if anyone else seen them? Will they be affected by all the construction in the area with the building of the pipeline? Should we consider asking EKZN Wildlife to move them to a safer spot? Are there other colonies in our conservancy?


Cyrtanthus (below)  and Hypoxis (above) are in flower on the road verges.


Adrian reports: We have a bushbuck doe who is a fairly frequent visitor to the garden (although now that the rain has arrived and leaves are growing everywhere she has less need to come). A really close look through binoculars showed a very large number of engorged blue ticks on her neck where she cannot easily scratch them off. This made us think about the losses of ox peckers through agricultural dipping practices and how our wildlife has to suffer the consequences of blood-sucking parasites. Wonder if there has been any research into this and whether antelope and other animals now have a greater prevalence of tick-borne diseases? Or does their natural immunity still protect them?

bush buck doe ticks

The same doe is usually accompanied by a lamb, no longer suckling but browsing like its mother. Intriguingly, there are sometimes two lambs of very similar size. We wonder whether this is in fact also her offspring and did she have twins? But then, when the second lamb is not visible, is it just down in the bush out of sight or where is it? Bushbuck have quite a short gestation period (only about eight months), so it is possible for them to have two lambs in a calendar year. There is no great size difference between these two.  We caught a male Bushbuck on camera too.

bush buck ram

Our camera trap has also captured a Black backed Jackal,


A Long Crested Eagle

long crested eagle

A little porcupine


Reedbuck doe

reed buck doe

and Reedbuck ram

reedbuck ram

A Grey Duiker

grey duiker

and a Serval.


A public Launch Meeting for the Conservancy is to be held at 1700 on Friday 14th November 2014 at Rawdons Hotel. This will provide an opportunity for residents of the area to hear about the activities and aims of the Conservancy, to offer their names for membership and to stand as ‘champions’ for their selected conservation activity.