This biodiversity stewardship project aims to provide formal conservation protection for the area of the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy, and beyond.
Activities in and around the RNC that illustrate conservation efforts.
We have had a good soaking rain. And large parts of the landscape burned during the winter. The pom pom is already growing, and can easily be spotted in the burnt veld - so grab the opportunity and get NOW, well before the flowers start.
To date the RNC has focussed almost exclusively on Pompom and Verbena. Other alien invasive pants like Seringa, Lantana, and invasive Cacti are present but have not been addressed in any meaningful way. The RNC controls Pompon and Verbena infestation at the same time, both alien plants have a strong foothold in the conservancy; they are often found together, have overlapping seasons and can be controlled with the same pesticides.
Jaco Etsebeth, Hills and Dales
While driving home recently I was confronted by a magnificent snouted cobra. It stood swaying in the middle of the track, seeming to challenge me as I stopped to grab my camera. Then it suddenly shot off into the long grass and to my surprise, another cobra slithered over the road after it.
Andrew Kock, Kyalami
I regularly cycle through the Schurveberg area and found these clear tracks in a patch of dried clay. After asking verious experts, they concur that these are brown hyena tracks “due to the difference in size of the front and back spoor”. My cell gives an indication of size. What is really amazing is that the location of these tracks is within 700m of the first house in a suburb of Erasmia.
Editor's note: The brown hyena spotted by Lee Dormer in Doornrandje (VeldTalk 51) was found dead next to the R511 on 23 July. It must have been hit by a vehicle.
Eileen, Hills and Dales
I found this fascinating pattern on the trunk of a Karee tree severely burnt in a veld fire. Karees are hardy and this one will probably survive but the damage done by fires every year is heart-breaking.
Annelize de Klerk, Crystal Mist, Doornrandje
Hierdie yslike groot skilpad het naby ons huis oor die pad geloop. Nog ’n bewys van die wonderlike natuur en die verskeidenheid van diere en inseklewe om ons. Gelukkig is daar min verkeer op ons pad maar watter kans het sulke skilpaaie wanneer ons velde so brand in die winter?
Editor's note: The winter veld fires hit the Conservancy hard this year. While some fires got out of hand when fire-breaking was attempted during the day, others were deliberately set alight at night. Those residents who regularly respond to fight fires report a considerable cost in cut tyres, damaged vehicles and firegreens.
Sourced from VeldTalk, the official newsletter of the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy
If rocks could talk, the Conservancy would be an entire encyclopaedia. A Rockipedia! The local rock formations have fascinated academics, gold diggers, stone masons and ordinary citizens for decades.
Bordering the Cradle of Humankind, north of the Lanseria Airport and with the Magaliesberg Mountain range dominating the northern horizon, find the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy.
The Conservancy lies centrally between Pretoria, Johannesburg and the West Rand, and is a largely unspoilt, natural area. The region, including the Cradle of Humankind, is a valuable link through to the Magaliesberg range, and therefore an important link in a conservation corridor for species migration.
There has been much excitement about Egoli Granite Grassland (EGG) and the opportunity for formal conservation that has opened up in the RNC. But what is EGG? Where does it grow? What makes it special?
A little fellow came calling in Doornandje...
Hedgehogs curl up into a tight ball when disturbed. They are mainly active at night, and sometimes come out in the day at the start of the rainy season. They hibernate between May and July - seeing this creature in April was fortunate.
They eat insects, millipedes, mice, lizards, earthworms and some fruits. Many areas have reported a decline in hedgehog numbers, including the Conservancy. The creatures are often captured by humans. They are also affected by long periods of drought.
Hedgehogs have a conservation status of "near threatened". That means, close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.
A recent walk in the RNC by the Spider Club caused a stir. Children were fascinated!
A number of residents in Doornrandjes and Hills & Dales have been seen in the veld, tackling our most virulent alien invader - the dreaded Pom-pom weed.
While the country stretches out, sighs deeply and enjoys a brief respite fom the normal pressures, December is flowering time for the Pom-pom. It works hard to send out further rhizomes, and to form the millions of seeds it will disperse over the grasslands in the weeks to come.
December is here, and so are the bright splashes of pink in the veld as the dreaded pom pom flowers.
Pom pom is one of the classified alien invaders that MUST be removed by law. You can - and will - be fined if you take no action against Category One Invaders.
This article explains more about herbicides, classified aliens and your responsibilities.
Extensive progress has been made on the rehabilitation of wetlands in Hills and Dales (Rietfontein).
The progress comes in spite of delays caused by tangles in the procurement process for materials through Rand Water.
There are four teams of 12 people on the job at different times – each team takes ownership of a specific ‘intervention’ from start to finish.
The joy of observing wild creatures in the RNC is shared by many. Here are images of young jackal pups resident in Hills and Dales. Dave Muller, the photographer, shares his concern to maintain the balance between allowing these wild creatures space to hunt and protecting his young lambs.
The RNC’s “Conservation Calendar” has been very popular, with local residents as well as the general public. Recent events:
In the late 1970s a water pipeline was laid from Northern Farm to Pelindaba, running through Hills and Dales, Roodekrans and over the Hennops River.
The construction company had no qualms about stripping a nearby property of topsoil, leaving no 65 Hills and Dales looking like a moonscape. Nature tried its best to cover the bare rock bed but big dongas developed down the slope, washing large quantities of sand and silt into the wetland and dams further down.
The summer months found Lynne Clark and a team of warriors tackle the dreaded pink threat - the Pom Pom Weed.
Fires are started in many ways.