Another feather in the midlands’ cap

2008-03-24 00:00

SOON the midlands will have another feather in its cap if a proposal for the proclamation of a unique game reserve at Nottingham Road succeeds.

A public meeting in the midlands town recently heard that the proclamation of the Bill Barnes Crane and Oribi Sanctuary is well under way, and that it will take about six months for a nature reserve to be declared.

Addressing the gathering in the Farmers’ Hall, chairman of the KwaZulu-Natal Crane Foundation, Henry Davies, said that the proclamation was done in accordance with the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Management Act of 1997, and was motivated by several environmental imperatives.

“The 445-hectare reserve is located in Drakensberg foothill moist grassland habitat and the objective is to establish a world-class bio-diversity conservation area with special emphasis on three crane species, and the Oribi antelope,” he said.

Davies said the proclamation process was undertaken with the assistance of the provincial conservation authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

“We envisage that the reserve will be established as a stewardship site in accordance with the prescribed conditions,” he said.

The process is underwritten by two separate contracts: one between the Crane Foundation and Ezemvelo in a protected area management agreement; and a tri-partite declaration agreement between the Crane Foundation, KZN Nature Conservation Board, and the MEC for Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, Mthlolepi Mthimkhulu.

Speaking on behalf of KZN Wildlife, Kevin McCann said the proposed reserve contains a number of endemic species of plants and animals.

“There’s close to 10 endemic specific plants, nine different mammals, and a list of about 75 birds,” he said.

Of particular interest is a resident breeding pair of wattled crane, blue crane, an oribi population and the midlands dwarf chameleon.

The area currently operates as a protected area on land that was donated by three neighbouring land owners — John Brown, Jon Bates and the Springvale Farm Trust.

A joint management committee with representation by the donors is envisaged to run the sanctuary.

One of the most unique aspects of the proposed reserve is that it is close to a residential development and that it presents pioneering opportunities for bio-diversity protection in a peri-urban context.

No taming the wild

THE original proposal for a crane and oribi sanctuary has been extensively reworked, mainly to conform with legislation on the keeping of wild animals in captivity.

Initially conceived as a facility where visitors could interact with birds that could not be returned to the wild, the project has evolved into a sanctuary concept that protects the habitat of the birds.

This necessarily means that visitors may not have a close-up look at a bird and that will be disappointing for some people.

It is worth bearing in mind that legislation specifically prohibits the keeping of wild animals, even those ones unable to return to the wild. Such animals must be destroyed, according to the law.

No accident

THE move to distinguish a car accident from a crash is long overdue.

For too long all accidents involving a vehicle have been treated the same, but expect culpability to become a major issue going forward.

Hence, while some accidents are genuinely unforeseen, they are not the same as a crash, where a

perpetrator’s behaviour is the cause, be it on account of alcohol, recklessness or bravado.

RIP

HOW long before we can add the epitaph to the gravestone of the moribund uMgungundlovu District Municipality?

A recent sitting of the municipal demarcation board hinted loudly that the UMDM’s time is up and that we’re likely to see some interesting changes in local government.

We wait with bated breath.

Last word

Have you ever wondered who tastes dog food for “its new improved taste”?

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