Look after pristine sites

2008-07-13 00:00

The south-eastern seaboard affords some stunning sunsets, and none more so than at a stretch of coastline between Port Edward and Port St John’s.

The scene is particularly awe-inspiring from a point known as Gwegwe in the Mkambati Nature Reserve that falls under the auspices of the Eastern Cape Parks Board.

As it happens, Gwegwe is hugely popular with fishermen — some of whom make an annual pilgrimage to the collection of rondavels perched on a bank of rocks to catch the gamefish chasing the sardines up the coast.

Those familiar with the layout in that part of the world will know that while access to the fishing point is open, the rocks are primarily the preserve of the Gwegwe dwellers. So is the debris and discarded tackle that is littering what should be a place of crashing waves and dramatic beauty.

A picture in the Mkambati reception office of rubbish being fished from a hole at Gwegwe attests to a perennial problem that is as much about attitude as it is about behaviour.

It is difficult to know what is more offensive: metres of deadly fishing line, empty beer bottles, plastic packaging, or rotting, bait fouling rock pools. There is a strong causal relationship between the muck and humans, of course, and we believe non-residents play a large part.

Is it reasonable to expect the Gwegwe fishermen and their women and children to maintain the area in a pristine state? We believe it is, and more so given the profile of users, limited access and unique circumstances at Gwegwe.

This social contract already exists and needs no further signatures or endorsements to do what is right. To back it all, there is the camp and reserve management to deal with any unpleasant stuff.

But the issue is not trouble, but an expectation of any trouble that tends to emasculate us. And so, by choosing not to stand up to the machismo, we tacitly submit to the rules and values of the rude-and-crude set.

Make no mistake, the Gwegwe phenomenon is not unique to Wild Coast fisherfolk. It similarly blights other areas where many white South Africans, and increasingly, anderkleuriges, have the means to exploit nature for their indulgent pleasure.

Further north, the SA invasion of 4x4s, motorboats, jetskis and quads is planting seeds of great resentment among Mozambicans. Kitted out to brave the native world, the host communities derive very little real benefit. They have to endure ladles of white supremacy, not to mention racism, to boot.

Further west, a similar phenomenon is threatening, with Lesotho becoming increasingly popular with the SA off-road fraternity. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does place an onus on people with influence to practise quiet diplomacy in the interests of responsible tourism.

Few machines rile more than quads, those infernal four-wheel motorbikes piloted by border-line leather fetishists. Belligerent, noisy and ignorant, quad bikers are unfortunately a majority who spoil it for a more thoughtful minority, so much so that “responsible quad biking” is probably an oxymoron.

As for the Gwegwe fisherman, especially those there during the second week of July, you are just plain morons.

Missing the point

AN e-mail petition is doing the rounds, invoking recipients to boycott Caltex filling stations in a bid to start a petrol price war.

Unfortunately, no amount of boycotting the institutions in the supply chain will make a difference at the bowser as the price is heavily regulated by a complex framework of legislation.

The only solution is to boycott the product shipped through the supply channel — the fuel!

This means a lesser reliance on fuel by using your common sense, not chasing pipedreams about making an expensive commodity cheaper.

Land indaba

AN important workshop to reflect on the Land and Agrarian Reform Project (LARP) aimed at transferring five million hectares of white-owned land to 10 000 emerging farmers is mooted for the July 30 and 31, as well as August 31.

It is understood the discussions will take place within the context of the updated strategic plan for South African agriculture, and that the private sector would be involved to a greater extent.

More information will be provided in due course by AgriSA and its provincial affiliates.

Last word

“THE greatest things are accomplished by individual people, not by committees or companies.”

— Alfred A. Montapert.

derekalberts@mweb.co.za

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