Vincent Carruthers has been the Chairman of the Magalisberg Biosphere Initiative Group (MBIG) since 2009 and has fervently advocated for the Magaliesberg Biosphere since 2006.
In July this year Vincent decided to resign the Chairmanship of MBIG to allow more time for his own interests and work in the Biosphere. One of these tasks is to re-visit and update his popular book "The Magaliesberg".
Vincent will continue as Chairman of the Magaliesberg Biosphere (Not for Profit Company).
Paul Fatti was nominated for the role of chairman and the MBIG committee unanimously supported this nomination. Paul previously chaired MBIG, and is still the Chairman of Magaliesberg Protection Association.
Kerri Volter is an ambassador for the vultures of the Magaliesberg. Her passion is undeniable.
Kerri asks the question "What would be the penalty if a poacher was convicted of killing 600 rhino in one go? We have just heard of someone who did just that - not rhino, but endangered vultures! Six hundred is more killed in one incident than all the rhino killed this year by poachers. And the Vultures are listed as endangered, not threatened".
Kerri's passion, her work and commitment have been recognised. The platform given to her work will help to bring awareness to the plight of these misunderstood birds.
The Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa, launched in autumn 2012 in partnership with global investment firm Investec Asset Management, attracted fifty nominations from across Africa. Kerri is on the shortlist of five to receive the award.
The shortlist of five conservationists nominated for The Tusk Conservation Award is as follows:
•Edwin Kinyanjui (Kenya)
•Kerri Wolter (South Africa)
•Alasdair Harris (Madagascar)
•Tom Lalampaa (Kenya)
•Josia Razafindramanana (Madagascar)
"The awards are a once in a lifetime experience! Vulpro is truly blessed and we'll keep fighting the fight for our vultures! Thanks to all of you for your support,"says Kerri.
Kerri Wolter established VolPro (Not for Profit) with her ambassador Vulture Percy, to spread the news of the plight of these endangered, and often misunderstood birds. Sadly Percy has concluded his work, and Kerri is now rearing a new ambassador Vulture.
The Magaliesberg Mountain Range is home to the fourth largest breeding population of Cape Vultures (Gyps coprotheres) which has been studied since the 1950s. There are three breeding sites on the southern slopes of the Magaliesberg, and these sites represent 12% of the wild Cape Vulture population.
Kerri says "During the 2012 breeding season, we have seen massive declines from the Skeerpoort and Robert's Farm colonies. The Robert's Farm colony, historically the largest breeding colony in Magaliesberg with over 500 breeding pairs at one stage, is now extinct as a breeding site, with no sign of roosting birds. The Skeerpoort colony has declined from some 300 breeding pairs to only 200 breeding pairs this year and only 50% of these breeding attempts being successful."
The decline of the Magaliesberg Cape Vultures is in the main due to poisonings, disturbance at breeding sites, collisions with aircraft, and electrocutions on power lines.
"We are seeing the evidence of declining fortunes of the Cape Vultures in the Magaliesberg associated with the expansion of urban areas and agricultural," says Kerri. She draws attention to the transformation and fragmentation around the Hartbeespoort Dam which is a short 3 kilometers from the Skeerpoort vulture colony.
"Expensive estates and informal settlements, golf courses and fragmented developments have transformed the natural habitat.
"VulPro has undertaken mitigation measures to protect the species and prevent further declines from the Magaliesberg. Our efforts include ongoing public awareness campaigns, efforts to mitigate power line threats, restriction of disturbance at colonies and feeding sites working with air-traffic and the general public. We are grateful for the support of conservation-minded private landowners on whose properties the colonies and feeding sites are located and for the establishment of artificial feeding sites.
"There is some legislative protection afforded by the Magaliesberg Protected Natural Environment which includes all three colonies. The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is also important as is offers a large area suitable for foraging, and hosts two regularly provisioned artificial feeding sites.
"We also work on the recovery and rehabilitation of injured and poisoned vultures from areas surrounding the breeding cliffs", Kerri sums up.
The Lepidopterist's Society of Africa approached Kalkheuvel residents last year for permission to undertake a butterfly census in the area. Kalkheuwel is within the Cradle of Humankind.
"We were hoping to find about 80 different species in this biodiverse region," said Martin Lunderstadt, one of the researchers. "To our delight we had a spectacular find of 112 species!"
The search was on for Hutchinson's Highflyer (Aphnaeus hutchinsonii ) which feeds off the 'wild syringa' (Burkea Africana), which abounds on the slopes in Kalkheuvel West. The closest locality where this butterfly has previously been found is on the north side of the Magaliesberg. The photograph provided here is by Steve Woodhall, taken at Utopia in the Magaliesberg.
Martin said he'd given up finding it when he spotted a few male Trimen's Sapphires (Iolaus trimeni) sporting about a large Protea caffra tree. "I realized one was a bit darker than others! Upon its capture I found it was a Hutchinson's Highflyer, the furthest south ever recorded!
"The next day I recorded another male about 500 metres further, proving that it's well established in Kalkheuvel!"
The application to list the Magaliesberg Biosphere as an International Biosphere Reserve came close to being declined. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) however allows for an application to be "deferred" while the identified issues are addressed. The Department of Environmental Affairs is committed to getting the revised application to UNESCO in the first week of September 2013.
There were two concerns to be addressed, and the revised application will be debated in 2014 again by the International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme (the Council).
The Council had this to say about the application: "The Council welcomed this very well prepared and documented proposal which lies between the cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg in the east and Rustenburg in the west. It covers an area rich in biodiversity with a wide variety of topography, landscapes and geology. Endemism of plant and animals is high, with a world class for butterflies but also with some ecosystems or species that are either endangered or vulnerable, rendering their conservation a key issue."
Positive comments focused on the inclusion of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site as an important cultural heritage not only for South Africa but for humanity; on the management plan actions to reduce the development and impact of the industrial and agricultural activities in the corridor; and training activities which will benefit youth and strengthen cooperation with the private sector.
It was clear to the Council that the proposal failed to reflect the planned biosphere reserve. The Council commented "the zonation is not yet complete and a large piece of buffer and transition zones is lacking in south and southeast, especially around the related core area".
Before the application was submitted in 2012, all areas falling into Gauteng were hurriedly excised. Provincial, local and Cradle authorities had declined to endorse the application indicating that the consultation process was inadequate.
The proposed biosphere also included in the transition zone South Africa's main Nuclear Research Centre – Pelindaba, which uses an atomic reactor and a particle accelerator for different purposes in nuclear sciences.
South Africa sent additional information on Pelindaba confirming its civil research function. However, the Council referred to the nomination of the proposed Terres de l'Ebre (Spain) biosphere reserve which was deferred on the basis of nuclear facilities.
However, the additional information provided by the South African authorities about Pelindaba resulted in the deferral of a decision. The Council invited South Africa to revise the nomination to present a "complete biosphere reserve zonation" and to "exclude the nuclear reactor from the proposed area".
A series of Project Steering Committee meetings have been held. Paul Fatti comments after a meeting on 16 August:
"The encouraging news is that most of the Gauteng endorsements for the Biosphere were signed quickly, including most of the provincial departments as well as the municipalities of Mogale City, West Rand and Tshwane. Three signatures took some time, those from the Gauteng departments of Economic Development and Sports and Recreation and from the City of Johannesburg. The first two were apparently a formality, but Johannesburg expressed concern about the area around Lanseria Airport which falls in the Approach Zone of the Biosphere".
"Everything else is in line for revising the Biosphere Application and submitting it to the Department of Environmental Affairs MAB ("Man and the Biosphere") Department by the end of the first week of September, and they are committed to get it to UNESCO by the end of the month. We will be kept informed of progress by Mashudu Nemutandani, the official in charge of the Project Steering Committee administration," says Paul.
Vincent Carruthers has been awarded the highest possible honour from North-West University – the Chancellor’s Medal Award – in recognition of his outstanding contributions to environmental sciences in the North-West Province and nationally, his authorship of excellent field guides and other books on wildlife, and for his contribution using natural history to unite racial groups and to nurture respect for different cultures.
Vincent is a member of the Magaliesberg Biosphere Initiative Group and Chairman of the Magaliesberg Biosphere NPC.
He is an expert on amphibia and wetlands in South-Africa, and the author of various authoritative publications in the fields of natural sciences and South-African history, including The Magaliesberg, The Wildlife of Southern Africa - Guide to the Animals and Plants of the Region, South African Frogs - A Complete Guide, etc.
Vincent served on the Parks and Tourism Board of the North-West Province for seven years, and was the Chief Executive Officer of the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa, chairperson of Birdlife South Africa, and vice-chairperson of the Delta Environment Centre. He also Director of the Sustainable Tourism Research Institute of Southern Africa.
With the rainy season hopefully just around the corner, you might consider harvesting your own rain water.
South Africa is a water-scarce country, and the water resources are under tremendous pressure from a growing population, on-going pollution, wetland destruction and climate change. The water that we do have, in particular, in the Magaliesburg districts, is either polluted with acid mine water or sewage, and then there is the constant threat of mining in the area, which will place added stress on our water resources. It is predicted that Gauteng will be facing a water shortage as early as this year still, as demand is increasing faster than the costly water transfer schemes can be built. The second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Transfer Scheme will only bring relief to Gauteng by 2019.
As has been experienced in many municipal areas, neither the supply nor quality of water can be guaranteed. A viable option to save clean water could be rain water harvesting from your roof. Rain water tanks provide a renewable supply of natural, soft, clear and odourless water without harming the environment. The rain water collection capacity from your roof is: 1mm of rain = l litre of water per m² of roof area (allow a wastage of 15%).
Tanks should be located on the corners of your house. They should be covered to prevent evaporation and mosquitoes from breeding. Install a filter to catch leaves and twigs flowing from the roof. The tap should be raised, so you can fit a bucket under it to prevent sediment from the bottom of the tank from clogging.
From: Hartebeestfontein Conservancy Newsletter
July brought changes to the legislation on Aliens – and some of the changes may surprise you, and require that you re-think your garden.
Aliens are divided into two categories. In the first (1a) compulsory control of aliens is required, and in the second (1b) a management plan is needed and you need motivate for a permit to continue to keep the species on your property.
Take a walk around you garden and check if you are compliant. On the list are 14 fish, 9 reptiles, 9 birds, 15 mammals and 106 plants.
Do you have periwinkle in your garden? Wandering Jew? Yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus)? These common garden plants are now on the list. If you intend to keep them, you will need a permit.
Other species include rainbow trout, Nile tilapia, black-faced impala, mallard ducks and Indian myna birds.