Winter 2015 Newsletter

Winter vista, Inhlosane in background

Stars glitter in the clear, cold night air, morning grass is frosted with frozen moonlight and horses fog the early rays.  We are fortunate in Dargle to still have winter, where in many other places it is hardly noticeable.   What are your favourite ways to describe the lovely blue sky days?

Dargle Water is Delicious

In an effort to raise awareness of the importance of our rivers, we have initiated the Dargle River Project.  A QR code leads to the Dargle Rivers page where visitors are encouraged to make a donation to keeping the banks clear of invasive vegetation and the water flowing. As Dargle is a tributary of the uMngeni on which 6 million people rely for daily water, keeping these ecosystems working well is essential for the wellbeing of our province. Payment options include an SMS donation number (SMS Donate Dargle to 40580 to donate R20) and a link to our GivenGain page.    Try it out – Zap Now!

donate to Dargle River OR code

Local restaurants are excited about the opportunity to support the Dargle Conservancy and will display the QR code and catchy slogans on their tables.

Dargle resident, Jetho Bronner, who is driving his classic Alfa Romeo from Dargle to Dargle in Ireland, intends to raise awareness and funds for this cause by displaying the QR code on his car.

We continue to engage the services of the excellent DUCT River Care team headed by Alfred Zuma to clear invasive vegetation on the banks of the Dargle River near the Dargle road bridge.  This winter they will be clearing log jams in the water.  You are invited to send staff members to learn how to clear blockages in the river without causing undue damage to the banks.   A morning spent with this team is very inspiring and informative.

dargle River in July"

Owls and Owl Boxes

The species of owl most likely to occur in Dargle are Spotted Eagle Owl (Bubo africanus), Barn Owl (Tyto alba), Wood Owl (Strix woodfordii), Grass Owl (Tyto capensis), Marsh Owl (Asio capensis), Cape Eagle Owl (Bubo capensis), White-faced Owl (Ptilopsis granti).

Tammy Caine and Shane McPherson of the Owl Box Project (who have installed owl boxes for some of our members) did a very entertaining and informative presentation at Tanglewood Country House in June.  During the afternoon, farm staff enjoyed a presentation by Tammy and Andile Nzuza of the Raptor Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre and asked many, many questions.

Barn owls took up residence in a box installed on Old Kilgobbin Farm and have successfully reared two chicks.  Tammy and Shane have ringed them and will be installing another owl box in a shed about 500m away so that the fledglings will have somewhere of their own to breed in the vicinity.  You can contact the Owl Box Project here: .

Participamts at Owl talk

Beginning and New Directions

The talk by Harry Wels, author of Securing Wilderness Landscapes, was fascinating. After coming across Nick Steele’s ‘Farm Patrol Plan’ he worked on reconstructing the start and development of the conservancy movement in South Africa. The book explores the coincidental coming together of organizational politics, personal frustrations and a national political context. We were intrigued to see a page from Nick Steele’s diary discussing the formation of the Dargle Conservancy on 4 February 1980 at the Lion’s River Club, right where we were listening to the presentation! Nick Steele described the concept of Conservancies saying “they are commandoes for wildlife”.  Fortunately, we have moved on from the military-like security focus of Conservancies in those days, but we certainly still look out for our wildlife.

Harry treated us to delicious local food prepared by The Farmer's Daughter. A great evening of learning and sharing around the fire. 

The food table at the talk by harry Wels

Our screenings of environmental movies continue to start discussions. We hope that by using various venues in Dargle that people at either end of the valley have an opportunity to attend.  At DIRT, Wangari Maathai’s Humming Bird tale was a real hit! You can watch it by clicking here.

Movies coming up: Revolution (12 Aug at St Ives) and The True Cost (16 Sept at Everglades)

Poaching is a Problem

Hunting with dogs is increasing. The hunts no longer take place only Sundays, but Fridays and Saturdays too.  We encourage you to report to SA CAN Hotline 083 799 1916 rather than taking matters into your own hands which can be dangerous.

Soon we will be hosting a workshop on Lemonwood Farm facilitated by Neville van Lelyveld.  Neville will show us where to look for snares and what to do when encountering poachers.  All donations will go to the recently launched AWR Anti-Poaching Campaign.


Learning to Love our Environment

Kids hugging tree We continue to support the MMEP with an annual grant to do creative and meaningful environmental education in our local schools. Many lessons have focussed on recycling – making new, useful and wonderful things from waste. Other activities have been puppet making, storytelling and eco-drama – learning while having fun is the BEST way to learn!  

Recently we used funding received from N3TC through the Midlands Conservancies Forum to fund our annual forest fieldtrips for Corrie Lynn and Dargle Primary Schools. Learning revolved around habitats, ecosystems and biodiversity and a magic day was had by all.  Thanks to Katie Robinson and Barend Booysen for their hospitality.To read more about this event click here to see the blogpost.

“It is my first time to go into a forest. It is so peaceful and beautiful and I would like to bring my own children back here some time”. Ms Chalufa - Teacher at Corrie Lynn Primary

A participant at the Trashopn ShowThe Nxamalala Enviro Club has focussed on creative use of waste this year, culminating in the Dargle Trashion Show.  Fashionistas and fast cars - July Fever gripped Dargle!  Local boys lined up their wire cars, while learners from across the midlands modelled their garments made from waste.  Prizes were wind up torches, pencil cases, wallets, bags and necklaces made from waste.  Set to become an annual event – mark 3 July 2016 in your diaries now! Thanks to the Bates clan, Brandon Powell, Eidin Griffin, Barry Downard, Gugu Zuma and Nikki Brighton for helping make this a memorable day. Click here to read more about the Trashion Show.

If anyone has good quality children's books - picture books and children's novels in particular - please would they consider donating them to Corrie Lynn School Library? Naturally, the children can't read Danielle Steel or pre-war encyclopaedias so please be so good as to select books with their interests in mind. A child who reads will become a grown-up who thinks! Please contact Éidín Griffin (083 429 2867) or Brandon Powell (083 657 1518). Surplus books will be given to other local schools.

Wild Things - Dead and Alive

So often we report on dead animals in our monthly wildlife sightings. To a large extent, these are the consequence of collisions with vehicles.  EWT Wildlife and Roads Project research has shown that most road kill is as a result of fast driving.  Surely in Dargle we shouldn’t be adding to these statistics?  Slow down and drive mindfully.  Especially on dirt roads where by driving at 40kms per hour you will not only avoid any wildlife crossing, but also avoid choking hapless pedestrians and roadside cottages in dust. The Dept of Transport has Dargle on their schedule to erect more Wildlife Crossing Warning Signs. All we need is for everyone to pay attention to them.

Highlights of recent Wildlife Sightings include captures on our Trail Camera of bushpig, porcupine families and a Blue Duiker in the forest near Glen Gyle. One of Helen Booysen's guests provided us with a lovely shot of a Crowned Eagle in flight. The Merricks had lots of Aardvark activity as well as Barn Owls wreaking havoc in their home. Nine Water Buck appeared in the area. Dr Wilson captured a large Samango monkey on her trail cam. Nikki Brighton found a Midlands Dwarf Chameleon and lastly, Barry Downard photographed a Praying Mantis riding his wire bicycle!

David Clulow: “Lovely collection of photos and comments. Brilliant Dargle enthusiasts! You enjoy your own reward and have thoroughly earned the pleasure you have had in accumulating the incidents. Please continue to submit these lovely items – very special.”

Leonotis seed head

FreeMe to the Rescue

We give a regular donation to Free Me and have undertaken to sell 500 tickets in their raffle which is aimed at raising R50 000.00 to ensure they do not have to worry about funds from month to month and can continue to offer our members and wildlife an excellent service.

Brandon Powell will be selling tickets at the Dargle Local Market today,  or else contact or 083 473 3074 should you wish to contribute by selling or purchasing tickets for this worthy cause

Did you read Ann Weeden’s account of FreeMe assistance with a serval caught in a snare?  See:

Local Fun, Food, Fracking and Farming

These things are connected?

While we have had heaps of winter fun - from The Great Bread Bake Off, to our Young Entrepreneurs Day and today, Kite Flying in the breeze, the Dargle Local Market fills an even more important role, by encouraging people to produce and sell food and other goods locally, giving customers the opportunity to choose Dargle yoghurt, mushrooms and sausages and building community resilience in a joyful manner.   You always meet someone new or taste something delicious and in doing so play a part in strengthening our food security by buying really locally produced food.  See what is produced, by whom, on Dargle Local Living.

With the threat of Fracking (and other mineral extraction) looming in the vicinity, we need to think seriously about the impact our consumption has on destroying the landscapes we hold dear and the changes we can make to our lifestyles to help stop this from happening. Why is sustainability important?  Read Bronwyn Howard’s interesting article on the Verdant Life blogsite

Large scale agriculture has an important role to play in reducing energy and water consumption and managing operations more sustainably and in sync with nature.  While water use and deforestation has increased dramatically over the last 50 years, the Earth’s resources have not.  This article discusses some of the issues and ways to make appositive contribution.

Garlic for sale at the Easter market

There are opportunities to have a stall at the Marriot Dargle Trails Festival on 16 August and become part of that fabulous celebration of our valley. Contact Cathy Alexander for details here or see

Enjoy the last of the golden winter light, smoke streaked sunsets and the crunch of leaves underfoot. Spring is on its way.