Before the lock down began, the conservancy had a busy few months. So busy that we had no time to update our activities on our blog. Now that we are stuck inside, it’s a chance to reflect on what we were up to at the start of 2020.
After several delays due to unusually high late summer rainfall, our Annual GASPP monitoring started in February. It is being by the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy, with support from Cape Nature, and funded by the Table Mountain Fund.
The vision of the project is “To halt the decline of freshwater fish species in the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy Rivers and facilitate recovery through the securing of critical habitat and the reduction of anthropogenic impacts on aquatic species. Leading, ultimately, to the downgrading of indicator species (Tradouw Redfin) from Critically Endangered Status.”
Conservancy staff and a team of scientists from CapeNature set up Fyke nets in the rivers in the evening and analysed species that were caught in the nets the following morning. The scientists identified and measured the fish species, took note of any other occurring species, recorded if parasites were present on the fish and if the male fish had tubercles (found during the breeding season).
The SASS (South African Scoring System) was completed to assess the health of the river. Microorganisms were collected by an accredited SASS practitioner who identified and noted all the species, she then examined the scores assigned to different species, according to their sensitivity, and generated a score which illustrated the health of our rivers.
Several sites included some interesting species and occurrences:
We had an otter that broke into one of our nets and ate all the organisms and left! We caught lots of Platannas (Xenopus Laevis), a Cape river frog, a coral water snake and many large freshwater eels! All these species were released unharmed. We were also able to capture new distribution records of some special freshwater fish, including galaxias, minnows and sandelias. Exciting stuff!
We will continue with the monitoring in the long-term so that we can identify any changes to the river systems and take the appropriate steps to protect these systems that provide vital ecosystem services to our communities and a safe home to our unique freshwater fish.
The report from this monitoring week is available here.