Newsletter - Summer 2012/13

Get Connected!

166 years ago, Thomas Fannin and his family arrived in our valley from Ireland. It is hard to imagine just how isolated they must have felt so far from family and friends, with mail taking months to arrive by sea.  These days, Ireland is not far away at all – Skype, email and Facebook ensure we are all connected.   However, even with all these tools and a thriving local grapevine, sometimes we don’t get to hear about local things we’d be interested in.  Now Dargle has got with the 21st Century and has a presence on Facebook!  Should you wish to share news from your corner of the valley, connect with new neighbours or ask if anyone has seen your dog/horse/husband – is it easy peasy -just click on this link.

Thanks so much to Rowena van Breemem for her hard work and creativity in setting up the pages.  Should you have anything you’d like to add (and not the necessary techie skills) you can email Rowena on

Please have a peep and “like” us.  Also, add a link to your own website so visitors (past and potential) can have a taste of Dargle life.   Assume you already have links to the Dargle Local Living blog - if not – here is the url:


New members who joined us this summer include Rainer and Ulla Holterhoff, Laurence Stuart-Hill and Jeanette Maree.

We also welcome to the Conservancy committee - Rowena van Breemem.

Cheerio and Thank you

Andrew Anderson has resigned as Chairman of the Dargle Conservancy committee to focus on his business commitments.  We are extremely grateful for the hard work Andrew has put into the Conservancy over many years.  He was instrumental in getting the concept of the Dargle Nature Reserve off the ground and also initiated the Midlands Conservancies Forum which is proving to be a very successful organisation.

Andrew comments: “It has been a tremendous 9 years that I have been actively involved and I am so excited about the progress that we have made on so many fronts.  I believe that right now we have in the conservancy movement the best depth of experience involved in private landowner conservation than ever before, and I feel confident that there are a good number of people who are able to pick up the reigns and take the conservancy conservation movement to much greater heights.”

Judy Bell, Vice-Chair of Midlands Conservancies Forum adds: “Andrew was part of the founding group of Dargle-ites who were inspired and courageous enough to take this wonderful idea and make it happen.  Without his input and vision, the Forum would just have remained a dream and thanks are due to him for all the work to get our Forum this far.”


Unfortunately, the Dargle School is no longer able to accept materials for recycling. Please do not dump your waste at their gate leaving them with a problem to sort out.

Thank you to Jenny Gifford for clearing away all the waste which was simply abandoned on the verge by Dargle residents over the holidays. Other local options for recycling are Greendale Centre Howick, Pick 'n Pay Howick, Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve and the Recycling Centre opposite Midmar.

Samango Working Group

The Samango Working Group would like to hear from landowners that have Samango monkeys on their properties. They need to know approximate numbers in the troops and if landowners know numbers of males versus females that info would be most welcome. The Samago Monkey Working Group is trying to ascertain how many sub species there are as very little is known. They are also doing health and dental checks on some troops as the Eastern Cape Samangos seem to be having serious health issues due to the amount of fruit they are eating which has higher sugar content than the indigenous fruits.

Towards March we want to collect fecal samples for DNA testing so it would be great to talk to landowners interested in being a part of this or who would allow other people onto their properties to collect the samples. We want to collect the samples at the same time so that they can be transported to the National Zoo as soon as possible afterwards. The chairman is Dr Adrian from the Pretoria Zoo. He is the vet who would come and do the capture and disease and general health checks. It is a group founded to share info and ensure the researchers are assisting each other in collecting info that is needed and not duplicating studies.

Contact Kim Gillings District Conservation Officer-Lions River Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife 084 5777 066 (cell) 086 2107 398 (fax)

What did you do this Summer? - read all about what other Dargle folk got up to:


Late one evening, after a party, Jethro Bronner and friends climbed iNhlosane to watch the sunrise. Quite the most gorgeous pics of iNhlosane we have ever seen.

uMngeni River

During the last week of 2012, residents all along the Mngeni river sent in photos of the river in full spate and the fun they were having in the water.

For more on the uMngeni's journey through Dargle see:

Alternate Energy

On Saturday 3 November, 40 enthusiastic Dargle residents and friends gathered for an Alternate Energy Showcase to learn more about Biogas digesters from Warren Confeit of Renen Energy.  It was an opportunity to share information, personal experiences and demonstrate solar, wind and other devices to assist the community to build energy resilience.  The Dargle Conservancy recognises that lifestyle is a conservation issue and we need to make some major changes in order to protect our biodiversity.  

Charles and Lesley Hughes enjoyed a cup of solar tea.  Charles was a little perplexed at the thought that he’d now have to change all the lightbulbs again – to LED ones, while Lesley commented “This was such an interesting talk and gives a lot of food for thought.  Thank you for putting it together.”

Antonia Mkhabela throughly enjoyed the morning saying: “Thank you so much for inviting me.  It was an interesting and powerful presentation.  It made me view life differently and realise the damage I have caused to my financial life as well as to the environment.”

Following on from this, as part of our programme of Farm Visits, we will be visiting Satori Farm on 9 February. Satori homestead and guest house is completely off the grid. Join us to explore their creative solutions to low carbon living.

Directions: 10kms along the Impendle road after it crosses the Mngeni river and becomes dirt. Light lunch available at R50 a head. Contact Louise to book: 082 551 7402

Invasive Plants

Despite this being one of the issues which received the highest ranking in the Survey we conducted last year, and also at the AGM, only four people arrived!  Clive Bromilow, Mike Farley and Derek Ramsey had prepared an extremely informative morning and those who did attend thought it was excellent.


We are in the process of starting a Midlands CREW group.  CREW, the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers, is a programme that involves volunteers in the monitoring and conservation of South Africa’s threatened plants. CREW aims to capacitate a network of volunteers to monitor and conserve South Africa’s threatened plant species. The programme links volunteers with their local conservation agencies and particularly with local land stewardship initiatives to ensure the conservation of key sites for threatened plant species.

CREW organises field trips to interesting places to search for threatened species and is a lot of fun!  Read about recent CREW outings at:

Should you be interested in joining contact Nikki on 083 473 3074 or

Midlands Conservancies Forum

We have been working with other conservancies in the Midlands on funding proposals which would have a positive impact on the environment in Dargle. They include:

  • River Custodianship (similar to the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme but focussed on riverine areas).
  • Invasive Alien Plant Clearing - particularly for landowners who are engaged in Biodiversity Stewardship, but not exclusively.
  • Environmental fieldtrips for local learners and water workshops in schools.
  • Documenting the Dargle and Lion's Rivers – tributaries of the Mngeni. Same ethos and methodology as the uMngeni River Walk last May.
  • Gardeners for local school food gardens.
  • Mini-sass, water monitoring and fire training for unemployed locals.

The MCF blog: is an inspiring platform sharing wildlife sightings and stories of local activities in the Midlands arena. If you don't already, it is certainly one to 'follow' and is greatly enjoyed by those who do.

"I really enjoy the MCF blogs so it is only a pleasure to promote them through our EWT website. The MCF is a critical partner for our efforts in KZN and I am not surprised that many of your "hits" are for Wattled Cranes as you publish so much up to date info on them (and the other Cranes) all the time. Tanya Smith Senior Field Officer: Drakensberg Crane Conservation Project Endangered Wildlife Trust - African Crane Conservation Programme

"Well done on a wonderful report. All because of you Boston is shining bright, a jewel of wonderful discovery, joy of friendship AND top visited Blog on the busiest day! We really appreciate MCF support, it has given us renewed life. Christeen Grant - Boston CREW

"I just want to thank you for all your blogs. Every time one comes through I Devour it. Living in a 3rd floor flat in the middle of Durban, this is my taste of the country. You are all so privileged to live where you do" Cheryl King

"I got goosebumps reading this particular story: an illustrated tale of just two Dargle-based families succeeding in their efforts to live consciously and responsibly in order to leave a lighter footprint on this earth; and helping to expose our younger folk, at their early age, must surely have helpful results going forward – so much that each of us can do, good work – thank you" Liz Gow

Did you know the photograph of the Midlands Dwarf Chameleon used in the MCF logo was taken by Dargle resident Carla Hardman, right here in Dargle?


Dargle Conservancy will have a presence at Sustainable Living and Indigenous Plant Fair – joining the KZN Conservancies Association stand to share info about our organisation.  Is anyone keen to spend an hour or two helping to man it?   Barry Downard has designed a beautiful pull-up banner which will be displayed.  Gilly Robartes will be selling her delicious dairy produce, Eidin Griffin will man the Midlands Seed Savers stand  and Sam Rose-Ellis? will be involved in the Eco-Schools programme. Nikki Brighton will be doing a presentation on Dargle Local Living, another on the Midlands Conservancies Forum and a short talk on wild foods. 

This year the Indigenous Plant Fair returns to its roots at the KZN Botanic Gardens in Pietermaritzburg.  Since those early days (2004), the Fair has grown to include food plants as well as hundreds of indigenous plants and, in 2012, to embrace low-carbon living by showcasing sustainable solutions too.  Nowadays SLIP, as the Sustainable Living and Indigenous Plant Fair has become known, provides an opportunity for the public to explore indigenous gardening, conservation, local organic food, alternate energy, water harvesting and other off the grid options all in one stop. The Botanic Gardens provides a perfect backdrop – lovely venues for interesting speakers, eco-films and presentations, shade for stall holders, lawns for picnics and eco-friendly activity areas for the kids.  This year the Midlands Indigenous Open Gardens will take place on the same weekend so out of town visitors can enjoy both events on one trip.

Dates: 25-28 April 2013
Venue:  KZN Botanic Garden, 2 Zwartkops Road, Prestbury, Pietermaritzburg
Entrance: Free
Contact: Karen Zunckel 083 235 8628 or Andrew James 083 293 0249

The SLIP Blog - - is contantly updated with interesting articles on sustainability - certainly one to follow if your are interested in these issues.

Contribute to Conservation and Community

We will be sending out invoices for 2013 subscriptions soon. Subs remain at R250 per household. At less than 70c per day, we believe it is great value! Do you?

The vision of the Conservancy is to strengthen our effectiveness as an independent organisation, and in coalition with other like-minded people and bodies, to work proactively to achieve a greater Midlands area that is wisely managed by all to ensure long term environmental sustainability.

Proposed Programme 2013

Movies: One Man, One Cow, One Planet, Sun Come Up, Garbage Warrior, Tomorrows' Cities. Is there something you especially want to see?

Talks: Dargle Wildflowers, Midlands Butterflies, Anything in particular you are interested in?

Hike up iNhlosane from Old Furth and across Old Kilgobbin Farm

Regular forest walks at Kilgobbin Cottage and Lemonwood

Farm visits: Satori, Wana farm.

Workshops: Seed saving, solar energy, water monitoring, yoghurt making

For any additional information please click here to contact us.