Battle lines drawn as activists face-off with developers over Gauteng Bushbabies

2019-03-18 16:30
An activist holds a Bushbaby. (Save the Fourways Bushbabies)

An activist holds a Bushbaby. (Save the Fourways Bushbabies)

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Battle lines have been drawn in Gauteng over the fate of a population of Bushbabies.

Activists are objecting to a housing development which they say threatens a local population of Bushbabies (Galago moholi).

The activist group, Save the Fourways Bushbabies, claims that property developers have reneged on an agreement that they will not use heavy machinery at the site to protect the animals.

However, the group posted a video on Facebook which shows a bobcat digging deep trenches at the building site where Bushbabies nests have been found.

The group condemned the use of a bobcat to dig at a building site in Waterford Drive, Fourways. They argue that the heavy equipment directly puts the population of Bushbabies at risk.

"We found a baby Bushbaby that had fallen out of its nest in the same area last weekend and we helped get it strong and released it," the group posted on Facebook.

Critical equipment

However, the developers of the site say the equipment is critical for protecting sewer infrastructure.

"The work being undertaken there is not work that has to do with the township establishment application. It is to determine the location of an existing sewer line that belongs to the City of Johannesburg - and the exact location of this pipe is not known," Theuns van Brakel of Van Brakel Professional Planning and Property Services told News24 on Monday.

An activist holds a Bushbaby.

Activists have been waging a battle against a property developer to protect the habitat of Bushbabies in Gauteng. (Save the Fourways Bushbabies)

The heavy digger has been brought onto the site to locate the large sewer pipe which would need to be protected and the sewer pipe was not part of the development, and served a larger area, he added.

"If the sewer line is not protected, then the problem for the environment will be much worse. It's a main sewer outfall line that serves a larger area and it doesn't serve our development."

Protesters have lauded property developers Tyto for abandoning the Fourways development.

Van Brakel called for cool heads to prevail on the issue.

"The people have stopped us from finding the pipe; there's a lot of emotion here. This sewer line was installed before any environmental legislation was published in the Government Gazette."

Galago moholi is on Appendix II on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), which means that it can be traded and it is not on the list of endangered species.

Trees planted for Bushbabies.

We planted Acacia Karroo trees in 2004 a specific distance (not more than 4m) in order for the Bushbabies to feed on the gum of the trees and the insects. The Bushbabies can jump up to 5m.  

As you can see these trees are now mature and not only is it home to the Bushbabies but also to an abundance of wildlife. (Save the Fourways Bushbabies)

IUCN Red List

The International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species lists Galago moholi as a species of least concern, indicating that it is widely distributed in the southern African region.

The IUCN does, however, highlight human settlement as a key threat to the species.

It said that between 2000 and 2013, the rural settlement expansion of 6.5% to 38.7% and urban settlement expansion of 8.1% to 14.9% have resulted in a decline of Bushbaby habitat.

"However, expansion of human settlements is suspected to have fragmented the Southern Lesser Galago's habitat, which may result in inbreeding amongst isolated sub-populations. This is of primary concern in Gauteng province," the organisation says.

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