Newsletter - Winter 2010

Winter 2010

In winter, our famous golden hills are striped with black as farmers burn firebreaks.  The smoke-filled air creates spectacular sunsets but the wildlife probably won’t notice.  Do consider the plight of the buck and birds and bunnies before burning off vast tracts of grassland during this time of meagre food supply. Many will starve in the barren fields until the first rains arrive.   

Summerfield Farm, on the Petrustroom Road recently found 6 barn owls dead on the front lawn over a period of a few days.  Kim Gillings (EKZNW DCO) has collected corpses and sent them for analysis to determine the type of poison.  Please remember that there are a number of ‘owl friendly’ alternatives should you have a real rodent problem, which are easily obtainable.  Of course, by killing 6 owls the ‘rodent problem’ has now increased by a factor far greater than could have been achieved by using rat poison. Owls eat a few rats every day.  Land owners and their staff can make an important contribution to keeping the food web healthy, simply by not using rat poison. See Ken Willan’s interesting article on Alternatives to Rodenticides our website under Useful Information.

Conservancy Wins Award
At the KwaZulu Natal Conservancies Association AGM held last month, the Dargle Conservancy, received an award in recognition of outstanding commitment and contribution to the natural environment of KwaZulu Natal, on behalf of the Conservancy, for the efforts which have been made towards conserving local biodiversity by establishing a Provincial Nature Reserve to protect this natural beauty for the benefit of future generations.

During the past two years the Dargle Conservancy has been actively engaged with the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) Biodiversity Stewardship Programme (BSP) to proclaim 2000ha of private land, which contains critically important species or habitats, a Nature Reserve. The Dargle is host to many endangered species including the Cape Parrot, Oribi and all three crane species and is an extremely important water catchment area – particularly for the uMngeni River.  After a thorough assessment, Kevin McCann, head of the EKZNW BSP, has negotiated with all landowners to ensure that the area receives the long term protection it requires.

Chair, Andrew Anderson comments “This award is a great boost for the work of the Conservancy, but accolades must go to the 10 landowners who have made such a bold and forward-thinking contribution to conservation in South Africa.”  This is a commendable community effort which will have benefits for many more than those who are fortunate to live in the Dargle.


Report Back on Recent Events
Our series of DVD’s around sustainability, transition and climate change continue to draw a group of viewers committed to making a difference to the planet, learning more about the contribution they can make as individuals. They have been fascinating, funny, scary and inspiring.  Justin McCarthy, who died last week, was a very keen participant and drove across the hills for most of them.  He thought we were a making a real difference for Mother Earth and that we lived in a good community. He enjoyed spending time in our company and was inspired to set up the fledgling Curry’s Post Conservancy.  He said excitedly last Wednesday “We have got 80 members signed up and are going to show all these movies soon, will you help?”  We feel privileged to have played a role and will certainly assist the Curry’s Post Conservancy wherever we can. Justin will be missed.

Claire Janisch kept everyone absolutely enthralled with her presentation on Biomimicry (gecko tape and zebra airconditioning...) in May and at our AGM, Jim Taylor talked about what climate change could mean for us in the Dargle. He also congratulated us on the Nature Reserve, pointing out that Umgeni Valley is only 650 ha (one third of the size of the Dargle nature reserve), saying our efforts would make a significant contribution to biodiversity conservation. 


Wednesday 21 July - Natal Midlands Dwarf Chameleon
Justin Herd has been gathering data on these creatures on his property over a number of years. This is certain to be a very interesting presentation, with specific reference to the Dargle. Donation R10
Venue: Tanglewood Country House – 6 for 6.30
Enjoy a Buffet supper with your neighbours afterwards - R60.00. Booking for supper is essential – call Nicky Mann on 033 234 4366 or 083 645 5619

Forest Walks July, 5 August, 2 September: 9am to 11am at Kilgobbin Cottage D707
Phone Barend Booysen for details and to book: 082 787 0797
Donation R10 to Conservancy funds

DVD’s coming soon at Tanglewood:
4 August – 5.30pm
The Powerdown Show – Short films on various aspects of our inevitable energy descent – transport, food, community and shelter.
18 August – 5.30pm
Crude Awakening – need any more convincing that Peak Oil is here?  Includes interesting political insights into the oil industry.
1 September – 5.30pm
Transition towns – Inspirational look at towns and communities who have began transition already.

Donation to Conservancy: R10
Please let Nicky Mann know if you’ll be staying for supper 033 234 4366 or 083 645 5619

10 September 9am – 3pm  Outing to uMngeni Vlei
Telepjhone:  Vaughan Koopman 083 228 7949

Wednesday 22 September - Grass
Last year, we were enthralled by Peter Ardington’s talk on grassland management to Balgowan Conservancy members and since then Michaelhouse has adopted some of his practices.  Learn how to improve your grasslands, about ‘catastrophic animal impact’ and so much more. This is absolutely NOT to be missed. Donation R10 to Dargle Conservancy. Details and booking – Nikki 033 234 4289
Venue: Il Postino - 6 for 6.30. 
R60 for buffet supper of salad, pizza and pasta.
Reservations are absolutely essential for supper – Sergio Guerrera 033 234 4809

Don’t forget to support the Recycling depot at Dargle Primary School.
They accept clean paper, cardboard, polystyrene, washed tins and bottles, washed plastic containers (eg yoghurt tubs or milk cartons), rinsed tetrapak (eg fruit juice), plastic packets which have the PET recycle symbol, metal and plastic bottle tops, foil containers (not crisp packets).Phone Mrs Mncwabe for more information 083 766 6708.   The Grade 6 and 7 classes recently visited the Go Green recycling Centre to help them understand the concept of recycling. They found it really inspiring and on their return, Mrs Miniza Mnchunu, teacher, said:“The day was perfect, just fantastic. The kids were so excited –they learned how to separate the recycling into the different categories and when we got back to school they presented to learners and re-sorted out all the bins so they were just right.  They really gained a lot. Now they are taking more care and telling others not to throw the papers on the ground but to please recycle them in the right bin.”

Contact Conservancy Committee members should you have a conservation issue to discuss:
Andrew Anderson – 033 234 4466
Gill Addison – 033 234 4594 Clive Shippey –  033 234 4354 Barry Downard –  033 234 4360 Vaughan Koopman – 083 2287949 Graham Griffin – 082 606 1085 Nikki Brighton – 033 234 4289

For any additional information please click here to contact us.