Dargle Autumn Newsletter 2017

As the leaves of exotic trees turn russet and gold, indigenous Prunus africana sprouts a whole lot of shiny, new ones.  They are particularly spectacular as the rising sun catches the under sides and turns the tree into a sparkling thing of copper and bronze.

Learn more about the rare Prunus africanus in the Wildflower section of our website, where can read past newsletters, wildlife sightings and find interesting information about the creatures that inhabit the Midlands.

Has anything been happening in Dargle, besides the seasons changing? 

Leonotis leonurus


Tanglewood became a private home earlier this year, so the new favourite spot for Dargle gatherings is The Cairn of Old Kilgobbin. Carl Bronner is our generous host and  we all love the food that Jennifer Pretorius of The Farmer's Daughter provides.

Kevan Zunckel introduced the film Wild Ways - five southern African countries working together for the good of elephants and biodiversity. While the challenges are overwhelming at times – remember that the small efforts we make can have a positive impact. For example, not fencing absolutely everything, and if you do use fences to consider types that are friendlier to wildlife, allowing animals to move across the landscape.

PhD student Jasper Finkeldy shared his insights on Fracking and Mining activism in KZN. While there have been temporary victories against unconventional gas extraction, public policy and energy procurement has not yet seen a transition to renewable forms of energy despite its lower costs and the strong call of the public for this to happen.

Mpophoma Falls

View from the top of Mpophoma falls

Photo by Louis Bolton

We trundled along the tracks to Ubunye Farm at the very end of D244, before heading into the grassland bound for the top of Mpophoma Falls. We enjoyed the cool spray on the edge of the cliff, delicious water, autumn flowers, incredible views and interesting company. Afterwards we relaxed in the shade with freshly baked scones, incredible jam - grown and made right on the farm - and cream from a cow with a name. A fabulous Dargle day,

Thank you to Belinda Hay and Emil Cloete for hosting us.

View all the photos here.


Blue Ribbon uMngeni

view of uMngeni river

Photo Nikki Brighton

Andrew Fowler of the Natal Fly Fishers Club lead us on a wonderful walk along the banks of the uMngeni River in early May celebrate their efforts clearing the riparian zone of invasive plants.  “As fly-fishermen, our interest in clearing is driven by a desire for a river which is less prone to siltation, more diverse in its aquatic and terrestrial insect population, and is therefore more suited to healthy fish populations. We support clearing all the tributaries and land in the catchment, aiming for restored grassland with a healthy biodiversity.”

The result is improved water for 6 million downstream users.

Penny Rees (DUCT), who explored this stretch of the river 5 years ago, was most impressed at the difference. “We couldn’t actually walk on the bank here because it was so thick with wattle,” she enthused.

Read all about #BRU here.

Walk along the Lions River

Photo Nikki Brighton

“Those with wet boots are always happiest on a hike, because they are not worrying about getting their boots wet,” quipped Peter Warren as we sloshed across the Lion’s River on a cold autumn day. 

Nothing could dampen the spirits of those keen to explore  Woodcroft Farm and neighbouring properties. William le Cordeur and Nicole Schafer have a photograph of their property taken in the 1970s which shows their cottage in the middle of a grassland.  Now it is surrounded by alien trees, many of which were planted 15 years ago, completely transforming the landscape.  Slowly, they are felling these for firewood and planks. We were all thrilled to see how much indigenous vegetation was returning to these degraded areas. In the grassland on top of the hill we had beautiful views of Lidgetton Village and the surrounding hills.  Hot tea with homegrown Hawthorn jam and homemade scones was a delightful welcome to Woodcroft.

View the photos here.


View of Dargle river - March 2017

Photo Nikki Brighton

We are thrilled with the progress Mr Zuma and his team have made on the banks of the Dargle River - clearing invasive alien plants which compromise the riparian zone, destroy diversity and drink lots of water. Dargle Conservancy is proud to support this initiative and thanks all other riverside landowners who are doing this important work too.

Thank you Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust for herbicide assistance for those Dargle landowners who are engaged in invasive clearing programmes to release water into the catchment.

Our partnership with Julia Colvin of Spekboom Tours will raise funds for further clearing on the Dargle River. Keen to join a cycling tour from 6-9th October taking in the scenery, forests and farms?  


Lesser striped swallow in the rain

Photo by Sandra Merrick

A jolly evening celebrating the past year, held last week.

Dassie Certificates were presented to Alfred Zuma and Zandile Sikhakane for their dedicated contribution to conservation in the area. Both go way beyond the call of duty – Alfred in clearing the Dargle River of invasive plants and Zandile in pursuing environmental issues in Impendle.

Wildlife Sightings Winners received gift vouchers donated by Streampunk Coffee and il Postino Pizzeria:
•        Best Photo – Evert van Bremem
•        Best Camera Trap Video – Josh Field
•        Most Unusual – Rose Downard
•        Most Consistent Contributor – Sandra Merrick (swallow above)

The committee has two new members – we welcomed Irene Warner and Paul Alford – who join Lynne Garbutt, Brenda Grant, Gugu Zuma, Jenny Goddard, Pauline Holden, Ashley Crookes and Nikki Brighton.   Ashley is taking over the position of Chair from Nikki.

The AGM presentations, Chairman’s Report are available on our website. Click here to go there.

View the Wildlife Sightings on YouTube here.


Photo by Mandy Crookes

Do you follow our lovely Instagram feed? Such gorgeous images from our valley. Thanks to Mandy Crookes, Louis Bolton, Daylynn van Wyk, Iona Bate and many others for sharing their pictures.  https://www.instagram.com/dargle.kzn/


scene at the dargle trade market

Photo by Nikki Brighton

Dargle Trade - When you get curry leaves, kombucha, eggs, jam, brinjal, pumpkin, limes, pickles, firewood, plants, cordial, figs, flowers, pesto, gooseberries, cheese, bread, milk, tree tomatoes, apples, cappuccino and hugs for free - you have had a good morning.  Third Thursday 8.30 - 10 at Il Postino Pizzeria.

Read more about the barter market here.


A school learner planting cabbages

Photo by Zandile Sikhakhane

The Midlands Meander Education Project has taken this project under their wing, relieving us of administration support. Zandile Sikhakhane's commitment to environmental education is five schools is impressive. Thanks Sunshine Seedlings for the donation for the school gardens.


We contributed to the creation of a website for CKZN – the umbrella body of conservancies in KZN.  It has been designed for people who are interested in conservation and Conservancies, with fundraising as the main objective.


Visit the CKZN website here.

View of Inhlosane from the uMngeni river