+27 (082) 881 6251 • PERMITS ARE AVAILABLE AT SEVERAL OUTLETS IN TOWN • chairperson@clarensvillageconservancy.com

Newsletter

April 2022

LATEST NEWS

by Dons Kritzinger

In die afgelope dekade of twee is ‘n pragtige paadjie ontwikkel langs die Kloof spruit. Tans is dit sekerlik een van die mees gewilde wandelpaaie in Clarens. Selfs die parkrunners draf elke Saterdag daarlangs.

The other stream – running from the southern hills, down the Scilla kloof, via the Van Reenen street bridge to join the Kloof stream between Naude and Market street – was however clogged by invader plants and was in many ways misused by people. Some two years ago the CVC suggested to (the then 84 years old)Dave Bunn and his assistants Dons, Amos and David that cleaning this route should be their next project. We started from Van Reenen bridge and worked up the stream.

Talle rubinias, coton easters, pyracanthas, privets en verskeie ander blokkasies in die stroom is afgesaag, met Gladiator behandel en uit die stroombed gesleep. Lede van die CVC het die tonne takke weggery. Die resultaat? Die stroompie vloei nou ongehinderd.

COMMENT

Clearing all the invasives resulted in a beautiful path to walk.

The CVC committee wishes to thank Dave, Dons, Dawid and Amos for this assistance, which stretched over a period of almost 2 years. The CVC has too much work for too few hands, and when our community volunteer assistance we appreciate!

COMMITTEE

Chairperson Bastiaan Verhoek 

Vice Chairperson Sjoerd de Boer 

Conservation and Management of Rangers Willie le Roux, Grant Pentelow

Chief Ranger Alfred Mokoena 

Funding Bastiaan Verhoek & Sjoerd de Boer 

Municipal Co-ordination Sjoerd de Boer 

Treasurer Linda Kearns 

Marketing and Event Management Madeleine Scholtz & Mandy Nel 

Environment Education Bo van de Lecq 

Secretary Yvonne Jonker 

Membership Yvonne Jonker

Heavy rains versus trail maintenance

The rain season provided Clarens with an abundance of rain (which we are very grateful). This brought some additional challenges for trail maintenance as we experienced a lot of erosion on our paths and the vegetation grows at breakneck speed and our rangers struggle to keep up. A huge thank you to the Working on Fire guys who assisted our three rangers to catchup with all this maintenance. 

Sharing information

A ten million times better way than classroom theory

After a long period of inactivity, the CVC relaunched a programme in February to educate learners on conservation and environmental issues with walks through our conservancy.

We started this programme with the Clarens Primary School (CPS). Up to now we had 2 grade 5 visits, accompanied by their teacher and also Irene Rugenheimer who is assisting the CVC with this programme.

This initiative has proven to be a great success.

In the words of Johan Kemp, a teacher at CPS: 

“In the last month, I had the privilege to take 2 CPS Grade 5 classes through the Clarens Conservation Park with the assistance of Irene, Alfred, Benjamin and Sylvester. What an Impact! Learners experienced the beautiful area they live in, and they were taught about the challenges the area surrounding them are facing. It included littering, fresh water supply and conservation, animals in the park and the effects of poaching, plants and rock types were identified, invader plants and their negative impact were also highlighted.”

So much-needed positives were installed into the future… the effect was young minds found love for their surroundings by practical experience. 

We are doing a visit every second week, and a visit programme up to the end of the 2022 schoolyear has been agreed with the CPS.

Alexandra Howard is collecting bat guano for diet analysis.

WANT TO HELP CLARENS GO BATTY?

South Africa boasts over 60 different species of bats including insect-eating and plant-eatingbats. These flying mammals provide essential ecosystem services such as pest control throughconsuming thousands of insects each night as well as acting as pollinator and seed dispersal agentsfor over 500 plants species including baobabs, banana, mango, cocoa, and agave. Owing to the loss of their habitat, however, you are nowadays likely to encounter bats on your very own roof. The installation of bat boxes is one of the best ways to provide alternative roosting options for bats.

Bat houses or bat boxes are artificial roosting sites for insectivorous bats and are used to provide a safe roosting option for bats that is temperature-controlled and out of reach from predators. These bat houses are often erected as an alternative roosting option for bats being removed from ceilings or as supplementary roosts due to the reduction in natural habitat. Bats may only be removed from ceilings ethically by qualified persons and we are happy to assist with advice on the correct exclusion methods. 

Bat houses also provide a great educational and research opportunity as we are still unravelling the behaviour, movement and ecology of bats in South Africa. Our Mountain Bat Lab at the ARU University of the Free State has teamed up with a local conservationist, Mr Bo van der Lecq, to supply bat houses to farmers and schools, so we can try improving public perceptions of bats.

We would also like the public to note that there is no problem living with bats on your roof – people and bats throughout the world have cohabited for millennia. There are no known health hazards associated with bats in roofs and bats do not have parasites that can transmit diseases to humans. So simply left alone, bats are harmless and highly beneficial, but it is when humans consume bats as bush meat or handle sick bats without protection that there is a risk. 

My hope is that as a CVC member, you will help attract bats to your garden such as reducing artificial lighting and keeping your cats indoors at night as they are a major predator of our local bats’ species.

So please contact me (Alex – 0788943113) if you are interested in finding out more about our research projects, if you’ve found an injured bat or can check our “QQ Bat Education Project” Facebook page.