New signs show the way forward

2016-11-08 06:00
Di Brooks, George Smith and Sue Smith of Table Mountain Honorary Rangers and Jacklyn Smith of Sanparks inspect a new sign.

Di Brooks, George Smith and Sue Smith of Table Mountain Honorary Rangers and Jacklyn Smith of Sanparks inspect a new sign.

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New signs were unveiled at lower Tokai Park last week to increase visitor awareness and safety.

The signs are fixed to sandstone blocks at path intersections. All path junctions have signs, which include directions and distances to the nearest exists.

Each sign, which was installed by Sanparks, has a unique number and displays emergency contact details.

Dr Tony Rebelo, chairperson of the Friends of Tokai Park, says the signs were first envisaged in 2010 when the large pine blocks were removed.

“We approached Sanparks with a signage proposal. However, it was postponed pending removal of all the pines. Following the tragic murder of Franziska Blöchliger, walkers asked if the paths could be marked to easier communicate their whereabouts, and the signage was revisited,” he says.

The Table Mountain National Park Honorary Rangers funded the signs and Honorary Rangers members sourced the sandstone rocks in upper Tokai.

Tokai boasts a 4km perimeter track, donated by Pedal Power, which is used for cycling, jogging and walking.

“Kilometre marks are planned, and two watering points mooted. The track runs under the oak avenue along Ondertuine and Soetvlei to the “Berlin wall” and then along the border of the national park to the cycle track in the east, returning along the south side alongside Almora Circle and Dennedal Avenue and Orpen Road. The tracks are integral parts of the cycling paths being established in the Constantia and Tokai regions,” says Rebelo.

Rebelo adds that the signs are very important for the park.

“The paths and signage are integral to the user experience at Tokai. Together with the planned viewing platform at the mound also proposed by the Friends of Tokai Park in 2010 as a shaded resting spot, these will ensure rapid response by rangers and neighbourhood watches to any situations that might arise.

“Tokai Park is open during daylight hours to anyone. Dog walkers, horse riders and adult cyclists require an activity permit, obtainable at the Sanparks Tokai office.”

The trails in the perimeter track are intended to double up as firebelts. But these will only be maintained as fire belts when the veld is older, he says.

“At this stage the fire risk is low as the vegetation is still young. The trails extend the path network by a further 2.5km, and allow a variety of walks in terms of distance and experience. The trails are named after threatened and characteristic plants – candelabra, viooltjie, silkypuff, sewejaartjie – which are prominent in those areas.”

Path design“A further 1km of paths, allowing over 20 different combinations and ‘loops’ of walks, will be added once the pine plantations are removed. The existing 150m restoration trail offers an educational experience, and is suitable as a start for school and environmental group visits,” he says.

Inherent in the path design are a few refugia for animals where they can hide during the day, safe from dogs and people. These are in the Soetvlei wetland, and the “original core” area – where the seed bank at Tokai was first discovered.

“These are used by caracal and porcupine during the day (they roam around the area at night). These refuges have to be large enough to allow animals to feel safe, and to avoid detection by dogs. At this stage no buck have been seen east of Orpen Road (although some spoor have been recorded), but we hope that they will discover these refuges and return to the area soon.

We hope that we will have the support of the community in protecting these animals and their refuges by respecting path closures and keeping to existing paths. We encourage the community to report any illegal use of closed paths – especially with dogs – to rangers.”

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