Keeping the Dargle delightful

2010-05-28 00:00

THE iconic hill, iNhlosane, looks over the beautiful Dargle Valley which consists of wetlands, highly endangered moist mistbelt grasslands and indigenous forest.

At the Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife annual meeting last week, Dargle Conservancy chair, Andrew Anderson, received a certificate presented in recognition of outstanding commitment and contribution to the natural environment of KwaZulu-Natal, on behalf of the conservancy, for the efforts that 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 as a natural reserve 2 000 hectres of private land, which contains critically important­ species or habitats­.

The Dargle is host to many endangered species, including the Cape Parrot, oribi and all three crane species and is an important water catchment area — particularly for the uMgeni 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.

Since it was established in 2003, The Dargle Conservancy has worked hard to improve awareness of the importance of biodiversity in the midlands, hosting talks by experts on forests­, snakes, bats, birds, butterflies, grasslands, alien vegetation and climate change.

The conservancy is active in monitoring inappropriate developments that might threaten biodiversity and, recognising that it is important to inspire the next generation of custodians, gives regular grants to the Midlands Meander Education Project to conduct lessons in the two local rural schools around ecological­ issues.

Last year, in a bold plan to strengthen the food web, 40 rock hyrax­ (dassie) were reintroduced into an area that was once home to a thriving population.

The dassie is the most important component of the food web that is missing from parts of the Dargle and as this is strengthened, the conservancy plans to extend the reintroduction to other areas and eventually introduce the now rare Blue Duiker.

Andrew Anderson says: “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.

Should you wish to find out more about the Dargle Conservancy, or “Adopt-a-Dargle-Dassie” initiative to assist its conservation efforts, visit www.dargleconservancy.org

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