Category Archives: Game reserve
While riding to work I do a lot of musing about so many things I hear, read or see that by the time I get to work I have worked out an entire blog. The only problem is that once I am at work I barely touch sides with meetings and JAD sessions taking up most of my time thus leaving me very little time to prepare a blog and upload it. But I suppose I owe my soul to the company and need to give them their pound of flesh J
In the past South Africa was in the forefront of conservation of our wildlife. Nature reserves were established all around the country and the management thereof was of such high quality that South Africa was one of only a handful of countries where the number of animals increased to a very healthy population.
And it is this that now turned our country into a target for poachers. The current focus has been on the slaughter of Rhinos for their horns. The retail price for a large Rhino horn can easily turn a person into an instant millionaire and there is a ready market out there to ensure that a network is set up to smuggle the horns out of Africa to the Far East. The concern now is that as the price of ivory keep increasing that the poachers will increasingly start focusing on slaughtering the herds of Elephants in South Africa.
In an article by Sheree Bega (Star newspaper) mention is made of between 25 000 and 50 000 elephants being slaughtered in 2011. In 2012 the conflict in various African countries has been the excuse for wholesale slaughter of thousands of Elephants.
As the Elephant population is decimated in the rest of Africa for the tusks that they carry, the poachers are increasingly starting to move south. There has been an increase in poaching in Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe and soon it will spill into South Africa.
Ivory is already being called “white gold” because of the high prices being paid for it.
Poaching used to be done by various populations purely as a means of surviving but those days are now gone. The estimated value of animal trafficking now exceeds R80 billion (R1 = approx. $8) which makes it a thriving business.
Once our population of Elephants has been wiped out the next animal on the list will the Lion population. No amounts of educating people that the various dried parts of a Lion are not of any medicinal value, will the killing of Lions stop.
On Sunday morning I grabbed my camera kit and headed out to the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary.
It is only 15kms from where I live but I dont get to go there as often as I would like to. The weather was constantly changing between sunlight and overcast which played havoc with my settings. There were quite a few people in the hide by the time I arrived. One lady who was visiting from Holland told me that she was very involved in setting up the sanctuary way back in the early 70’s.
Will upload more pictures later in the day
Threat to Nyl (Nile) river floodplain.
Once again we are seeing that the government and the majority of the population are allowing money to be the deciding factor in all things.
Now there are plans afoot to have open cast mining in a floodplain which has some serious avian ecological significance.
The Nyl floodplain supports approximately 60% of the breeding population of inland water birds, and during the flooding of the plains it has been recorded that over 80,000 birds are attracted to the floodplain.
The scary thing is that twenty-three species on the South African Red Data Book-Birds list have been recorded on the floodplain, (Higgins & Rogers, 1993). Of these eight only breed on the floodplain, some breeding nowhere else in Southern Africa.
On a sub continental scale the Nyl River floodplain, when in flood, provides a water bird breeding habitat rivalled only by the Pongola River floodplain in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa and the Okavango delta of Botswana (Higgins et al, 1996). Just imagine if the Okavango Delta was drained so that mining could take place there!
The Convention on Wetlands was held in Raamsar, Iran in 1971 and from there we have the “Ramsaar Convention” which is an intergovernmental treaty that states that all member countries will and must maintain the ecological character of their international important wetlands. It further states that governments are to plan for the wise or sustainable use of wetlands within their territories.
The Nyl river floodplains have been identified and recognised as a RAMSAR Wetland of International importance.
(RS# – 952, Country – South Africa, Site Name – Nylsvley, Designation – Nature Reserve, Date 6 July 1998)
The proposed mining site falls entirely within the area designated as a nature reserve but this just doesn’t seem to worry anybody. Once mining starts the entire area will be affected and there will be a loss of habitat and pollution which will be detrimental to the various bird species which use the wetlands for breeding. For those birds on the red list this could be a critical occurrence from which they may never recover. Duration of mining is estimated as being twenty years so the impact is long term. My concern of the destruction of the habitat is that the birds that are displaced by the mining will not just be assimilated into the surrounding area. The surrounding area already has its own structure and carrying capacity. This means that these birds that have been displace will more than likely die.
The impact that the mine will have on the bird species found in the floodplain doesn’t stand much chance of being reversed.
From previous blogs that I have posted, it would seem that we as South Africans just don’t care a continental damn that open cast mining takes place in areas that supposedly are protected as nature reserves. Consider the unauthorised dune mining near Mtunzini, the dune mining closer to Richards Bay, mining in the Karoo. These are all areas that are protected by various agreements, yet mining is taking place with no real concern as to the impact on the environment. Sure, impact studies are done, and recommendations are made for the rehabilitation / restoring of the flora when the mining is finished. To see that this doesn’t work, you only need to travel on the hi-way between Mtunzini and Richards Bay and see the mess they have made all along the dunes.
I went through the list of birds occurring within the Nyl floodplain and of the 426 bird species (46% of the species found in southern Africa) I recognised a few from my travels, but for the most I admit to being totally ignorant of what they look like. I will remedy this by spending some time with my bird manual – Robert’s Birds of Southern Africa (7th edition)
Some names of birds found in the area :-
Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) (red data)
Grass Owl (Tyto capensis)
Lesser Gallinule (Porphyrio alleni)
Lesser Moorhen (Gallinula angulate)
Slaty Egret (Egretta vinaceigula)
Rufous bellied Heron (Butorides rufiventris)
Streaky breasted Flufftail (Sarothrura boehmi)
Baillon’s Crake (Porzana pusilla)
Corncrake (Crex crex)
Striped Crake (Aenigmatolimnas marginalis)
Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)
Great White Egret (Egretta alba)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Yellow billed Egret (Egretta intermedia)
Squacco Heron ( Ardeola ralloides)
Black crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
African Spoonbill (Platalea alba)
Southern Pochard (Netta erythrophthalma)
Marabou Stork (Leptoptilos crumeniferus) (red data)
Yellow billed Stork (Mycteria ibis) (red data)
Black winged Pratincole (Glareola nordmanni)
Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) (red data)
Bat Hawk (Macheiramphus alcinus)
White backed Vulture (Gyps africanus)
Burnt necked Eremomela (Eremomela usticollis)
Barred Warbler (Camaroptera fasciolata)
Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) (disappearing rapidly in South Africa.)
Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres)
Dwarf Bittern (Ixobrychus sturmii)
Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)
Martial Eagles (Polemaetus bellicosus) (red data)
Redcrested Korhaan (Eupodotis ruficrista)
Pied Babbler (Turdoides bicolor)
White throated Robin (Cossypha humeralis)
Kalahari Robin (Erythropygia paean)
Marico Flycatcher (Melaenornis mariquensis)
Crimson breasted Shrike (Laniarius atrococcineus)
White crowned Shrike (Eurocephalus anguitimens)
Burchell’s Starling (Lamprotornis australis)
White bellied Sunbird (Nectarinia talatala)
Greater Painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis) (red data)
Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus) (red data)
Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) (red data)
Red-billed Oxpecker (Buphagus erythrorhynchus) (red data)
Almost every species of South African duck is found here from time to time, some in very large numbers.
I also read that there are tens of thousands of migratory birds that cross over the mine area. This could be a potential hazard during migratory events with the mine being brightly lit at night. Most water birds fly at night. The erection of electrical cables and buildings also poses another problem for migratory birds. This could have both national and international implications if the mine should influence the vast numbers of migratory water birds that use the floodplains.
I have on previous occasions blogged about how the mining companies are raping of country. Since the news of the possible mining broke way back in 2001 we have seen how greed has paved the way for the mining company to get away with breaking a plethora of laws and getting away with it.
And because we are allowing them to flaunt the laws, other mining companies all across South Africa are saying to themselves: If they can get away with it, so can we. A glaring example of this is the fracking debacle taking place in the Karoo.
Here is a copy of the mail I received. Especially for those of you living along our pristine (at the moment) beaches – take note of what is possibly coming your way in the future as they work their way down the coast.
And don’t say in a few years that you were not warned!
SOS Mtunzini Conservancy
Our Beautiful Natural Heritage
Dear Friends of Zululand and the environment,
Imagine our natural heritage in KwaZulu Natal – preserved in parks like Umfolozi, Hluhluwe, and Mkuze to mention a few. Think of the incredible privately owned game parks also conserving our natural heritage and underpinning the tourist industry. Picture how these preserves of biodiversity combine with the rural landscape, agriculture and forestry to produce the unique landscape that is KZN and that sustains the tourist industry. But then imagine an opencast mine for 20 years next to a Zimbali, next to Umfolozi, next to Mkuze Game Reserve. What would the impact be on these iconic places, of a development that must destroy everything to extract the minerals required for our flat screen TVs? What would the impact be of such an altered landscape on tourism in KZN and the jobs provided by these national assets?
Is it possible that in KZN, a game park or tourist lodge could suddenly find itself gazing into the void of a mining pit, or looking up at the blunt profile of a tailings dam instead of the natural tree line, while at the same time being buried in dust? Sadly, as things stand at the moment, the answer is yes, and for some the nightmare may be real! In fact it is about to happen to the picturesque coastal town of Mtunzini and to Twinstreams, the oldest environmental training centre in South Africa.
How is this possible in an area where regional and municipal planning have identified agriculture and tourism as the key drivers of development and growth? Well, it is certainly possible in a country where mining often appears to trump all, enabling it to avoid answering the tough questions that the various authorisation processes are intended to tackle. In the end result, authorisation is seldom turned down and is often a box-ticking exercise, and a mine is seldom held to account for the damage it causes.
The pressure to mine is real and it is growing. Currently there is prospecting on the sea bed off the north KZN coast for minerals and oil, and opencast mineral sand mining all along the east coast on the primary and secondary dunes, and now even further inland next to the Ongoye forest west of Mtunzini. Such rampant unplanned expansion of mining has the potential to ruin the eastern seaboard of South Africa and reduce it to chaos. The potential for sustainable job-creating industries like agriculture and tourism will be lost to short term open cast mining projects.
TRONOX KZN SANDS
The proposed TRONOX KZN SANDS Fairbreeze mine is a massive open cast mineral sand mining operation situated only 100 metres south of the picturesque coastal village of Mtunzini, and immediately east and west of the N2 freeway – the gateway to Zululand. This open cast mining process is a very destructive, unsightly process with uncertain prospects for rehabilitation post-mining.
It is well known that the Save Our Sands (SOS) Mtunzini Campaign is opposed to this mine in particular, and to open cast mineral sand dune mining in general, on the eastern seaboard of South Africa – with its high population and potential for tourism and agricultural industries. The SOS Mtunzini campaign is currently participating in all the authorisation processes currently in progress with respect to the Fairbreeze mine. Our objective is to get TRONOX KZN SANDS to do a full Scoping and Environmental Impact Assessment, something that the law requires for this scale of activity, but which Tronox has avoided up to now. We believe that only then will there be a transparent and comprehensive evaluation of the project, which will result in it either being stopped, or modified to be less destructive to the environment and amenities of Mtunzini and a wider Zululand.
TRONOX KZN SANDS appears however, to be determined to mine at all costs and as soon as possible. The authorisation processes conducted by TRONOX KZN SANDS appear to be characterised by a lack of transparency, a propensity to take short cuts, and avoidance of the expected legislated process, so denying stakeholders administrative justice and severely prejudicing stakeholder rights – your rights. These are complaints that we have raised at every juncture in the authorisation processes.
TRONOX KZN SANDS has recently started construction of the Fairbreeze mine before all the authorisations are in hand, and before the environmental appeal process has been completed. It contends that in respect of the bulk of the mine, it requires no planning approval, since it “commenced mining” in 2002. What it in fact did in 2002, was a sampling exercise, which it described as such in a public notice at that time, stating that mining would only commence some years later. It thus seeks to avoid any planning scrutiny of the vast bulk of the mine, on the basis that because in 2002 no planning approval was required, and because it “commenced mining” then, it is exempt. We contend that their interpretation is wrong, both in law and in fact. Since, however, Tronox has unilaterally started the mine, and clearly has no intention of stopping, we are required to interdict it until these authorisation processes are completed. Failure to do so will result in a fait accompli, because by the time the processes are completed, the mine will be up and running, and most of the environmental harm will have been done.
There is of course a much wider issue than just the plight of the Mtunzini community. Mining development without planning approval has profound implications for the future of KZN and other provinces. Municipalities are required to have clear development plans for their areas that spell out the future trajectory of development. If the mining industry is not subject to municipal planning and expects to be able to come and go as it pleases, what are the implications for local investment? Tourism is a long-term investment, and eco-tourism is critically dependent on the underlying environmental assets. It is simply untenable that mining – or any other enterprise for that matter – should have carte blanche to cut across long-term planning strategies, destroying a carefully crafted planning vision for the area, without subjecting the proposal to detailed planning scrutiny. We therefore say that this mine should in its entirety be subject to planning scrutiny before it starts, and any attempt to circumvent that – as TRONOX KZN SANDS is seeking to do – cannot be allowed.
At a Crossroads
We are therefore at a crossroads. It is sadly true that unless we as civil society act now to force TRONOX KZN SANDS to comply fully with the law, no-one else will. TRONOX KZN SANDS seems to have taken the stance that it will simply start mining, and continue unless someone stops it. If we don’t act who will? To do this we need to raise about R300,000 to interdict TRONOX KZN SANDS and compel it to stop mining until all the authorisation processes are complete. We believe the outcome of these processes will have a material effect on whether, or in what form, Mtunzini will have to endure this mine.
SOS Mtunzini request for your financial support
Please help us by giving us the financial support we need to ensure that the powerful mining industry complies with the law and follows correct municipal planning procedures. In order to meet our goal and raise the R300 000 we need, we ask that supporters of our cause donate R250 or R500 or R1000.
SOS Mtunzini (Save Our Sands) is the joint campaign of the MRA (Mtunzini Residents Association) and the Mtunzini Conservancy to address the proposed sand dune mining to the North and the South of Mtunzini. The Mtunzini Conservancy (Reg. No. 2007/006455/08) is a Section 21 company. The Mtunzini Conservancy has Section 18A tax status and can issue tax certificates for donations made.
Please make your donations to:
The Mtunzini Conservancy at any branch of First National Bank
or via the internet to:
First National Bank
Sort Code: 220130
Account number: 62093027475
Please use your business name or surname and initials as a reference and fax to + 27 86 512 6476 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org the following information:
- Proof of payment
- your full name
- postal address
- E Mail address and your telephone number
For donations from outside South Africa, the details for the bank and bank account are as follows:
First National Bank
PO Box 13, Empangeni 3880
Sort Code: 220130
Account number: 620 930 274 75
SWIFT Code: FIRNZAJJ659
If you have any problems, you can contact the Operations Manager at First National Bank, Empangeni:
Mrs Reeva Cornelius
Telephone: +27 35 772 6763
Fax number: +27 35 7922591
The Mtunzini Conservancy (Reg. No. 2007/006455/08) is a Section 21 company (Non Profit Organisation).
The Mtunzini Conservancy has Section 18A tax status and can issue tax certificates for donations made. Our auditors are:
Hills Howard & Associates (Pty) Ltd.
PO Box 585 Empangeni 3880
Tel: +27 35 772 6611
Thank you for supporting SOS Mtunzini.
Chairperson Mtunzini Conservancy
SOS Mtunzini Committee members
Stan Whitfield: 083-655-8983
Barbara Chedzey: 083-326-0699
Doggy Kewley: 083-630-1839
Wendy Forse 082-722-3333
Jim Chedzey 083-326-0698
Bruce Hopwood 083-301-2958
Stop fracking in South Africa
Our Karoo is under threat – current applications for horizontal fracking, a water intensive and environmentally destructive extractive process, cover more than half the Karoo in South Africa, 230,000 sq km, an international recognized biodiversity hotspot, culturally and heritage rich area – sensitive to industrial processes and large scale intrusive developments and mining.
Many people in South Africa are very concerned about the potential negative impacts that the extensive process of shale gas mining can cause, as recorded in the USA, international research reports and articles.
These effects include: health impacts, external costs and damaged roads, truck traffic on a never before scale, severe air pollution, potential groundwater contamination, ecological damage, farming and tourism impacts, and radioactive, hazardous, toxic waste. (http://www.scribd.com/doc/97449702/100-Fracking-Victims)
The moratorium on shale gas exploration has been lifted on the 7th of September 2012, despite the lack of wide public consultation and participation.
The controversial extraction method of unconventional fracking (High-Volume Slick-water Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing) is under ban or moratorium in more than a 155 places around the world.
Recently, Prof. Van Tonder from the University of the Free State said, that due to the unique geology of the Karoo, groundwater contamination will be inevitable. http://dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-06-15-confessions-of-a-fracking-defector.
Before any decision can be made, the moratorium on fracking must be extended and fracking should be prohibited in South Africa until thorough scientific research is done to prove that shale gas mining can be done safely according to South African conditions. We currently don’t know where water would be sourced, how safe the drilling would be and how toxic and radioactive waste water would be disposed of. We do not know what the external costs in terms of enforcement, community health impacts and road repairs etc. would be.
The science surrounding the technology and its impacts (both positive and negative) is largely unsettled.
Some research suggests that the extraction process and fugitive methane emissions could make shale gas as bad as coal for the climate.
Shale gas drilling and extraction has lead to groundwater contamination (like in Pennsylvania – http://www.peherald.com/news/article/2974 ), habitat loss and fragmentation and wildlife population decline in some animal species in Wyoming for example
We, as the public of South Africa, are entitled to our constitutional rights to a clean environment that is not harmful to our health.
Read more : www.treasurethekaroo.co.za
This article was sent to me and unluckily no source was given so I am unable to give the credit to whom it belongs to.
It is actually very scary as to what people get up to when there are dangerous animals that could in a flash change your entire outlook on life!
In Africa most animals or reptiles out in the open areas are very capable of terminating your existance here on earth without having to raise to much effort. The lion could leap onto its paws and take one leap right onto the roof of the Land Cruiser. The tourist would in that time not even be able to get his legs into the sun roof!
The other two tourists who are standing in the vehicle would not even have time to turn around to see the danger. One swipe from the lions deadly paw could easily break a humans scrawney neck as well as removing most of their face in the same motion. If the lion ended up inside the vehicle, the driver sitting there all casually would not have the time to reach for a firearm much less being able to use it.
So if you come to Africa – dont do stupid things like this. You (or what is left of you) could end up going back home in the cargo hold in a wooden box.
Published this one of a photographer and leopard doing stupid things as well the other day.