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.
At the start of February, the annual TransCape came through. This involved 150 riders, 7 stages, 7 days and 10 000m of vertical ascent. Let me tell you more, riders transverse 620kms of stunning Western Cape terrain starting in George and finishing in Franschhoek. This multi-stage, exclusive race is the iconic TransCape mountain bike race!
Grootvadersbosch conservancy had the privilege of being included in this race. Some of our team and employees from the conservancy farms stood as marshals on the route to direct riders and control traffic flow. Riders made their way down our trails before reaching a water point at the Grootvadersbosch farm where they could jump off their bikes for a chat and a refuel on a delicious spread of snacks and cold beverages before continuing on to Swellendam for their next overnight stop.
We look forward to welcome them again next year. By the way registration is now open on the transcape website.
Here are the latest regulations that a few people have asked for. Please Share widely.
In December, we were able to host an erosion control demonstration with best pratice on how to utilise erosion control material. Thank you to Heidi Nieuwoudt and Chris Maartens. The following files were shared to assist with planning.
We recently had a visit from a team of researchers from the Grootbos Foundation. The aim of this field trip was to collect tissue samples of Southern Dainty Frog (Cacosternum australis).The Grootvadersbosch area is the paratype (specimen aiding in defining taxonomy of a species) locality from the study that originally described this species (see Channing et al., 2013).
Unfortunately, the team was unable to detect this little frog within the region. However, this could indicate a different breeding phenology relative to individuals found in the southern Agulhas region, where they have already started breeding. This is further reason to investigate the phylogeographic (geographic distribution of unique evolutionary genetic groups) occurrence of this species. However the team did find some interesting creatures...
Top: The Striped stream frog (Strongylopus fasciatus) are agile jumpers. Clicking stream frogs make a short, hollow tapping sound that can be quite monotonous. Their calls remind me of lots of people snapping their fingers in succession. We found this species at two sites (Strawberry Hill Farm and near Honeywood dam entrance). They can call from both slightly elevated positions and tucked away in grass patches. Calls are high-pitched, piercing chirps that remind me of a wheel that needs some grease.
Middle and Bottom: The Clicking stream frog (Strongylopus grayii) is a common species. Interestingly, we found two colour variants within the area. The common variant (middle) was found at Strawberry Hill Farm dam. Calling from the muddy sides of the water body from sparse grasses, whereas the other variant (bottom) was found in a rocky river stream in Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve.
The common platanna (Xenopus laevis) predominantly occurs in water. Their powerful back legs have sharp claws that allow them to tear their prey apart like leopards, grabbing small animals with their mouths and tearing it with an overhead back kick. Back legs also aid this animal in burying itself under the soil whilst under water to escape predation or lay in wait for prey.
Thanks to Paula Strauss and Michael Fabricius for sharing their findings and we look forward to welcoming them back to the area for more interesting discoveries.
The conservancy was once again honoured with a Cape Fox Award at the recent Conservation at Work Symposium that was held in November 2018. We once again received the Gold Award for the best conservancy in the Eastern Region. We are thrilled to have the Cape Fox back in our offices. Thank you to everyone who supports us and recognises all the hard work. More information on the event and other awards available here:
We are very excited to partner with the community of Heidelberg as they create some amazing new bird routes in our local town. With support from the Explorers Garden Route, seven bird routes are planned that will create awareness about the amazing diversity of birdlife around town. The first route, known as the Nature Garden Route will soon be made available to the public to visit. The birding and walking routes will be linked with the 10km Conservancy cross country Heidelberg Route which was funded with support from Pedal Power, and Hessequa Municipality. There is also a historical walking tour through town which showcases the rich historical heritage of the town. Permits for all the routes are available at Heidelberg Spar.
We also got involved in a river and road verge litter clean up campaign in Suurbraak and Heidelberg.
Follow the Face book page to keep up to date and find out more about this initiative.
Local Tip: If you are visiting the Grootvadersbosch area and want a fun day out, we highly recommend a visit to Heidelberg. Why not make a day of it and cycle part of the blue route into town; enjoy a lunch at Heidelberg Hotel or Delish; take a stroll through town and then combine a lovely cycle back through the Duiwenhoks Valley and join the green route back. Get in touch with the GVB Conservancy office for more information.