The sighting of a leopard on the Lazy River road in Hennops on the morning of April the First was greeted with a combination of excitement and incredulity.
The driver of a truck on his way to the chicken farm further along the road spotted the animal half a kilometer from the Boom Gate off the R511. Patricia Clamp phoned VeldTalk and we phoned Radio 702 who decided it was an April Fool’s hoax.
It wasn’t. On hearing the news Fred Berrange and Andi Webster of the Leopard Conservation Project made a beeline for Hennops. They interviewed the truck driver, found leopard spoor and took fur samples from the fence where it the leopard escaped into the veld. The DNA from this will be tested by a vet, for confirmation.
If there is a safety concern among locals about a leopard roaming the area, Fred says they will apply to Nature Conservation for a permit to capture, collar and release the big cat elsewhere. Pity if it comes to that – Hennops will be the loser!
Radio 702 was finally persuaded - Fred will be interviewed just after the news at 07:00 on 2 April.
The enthusiastic response from residents, friends and family to the invite to tour the Conservancy took the RNC committee completely by surprise. Having prepared for 10 vehicles, the logistics of coping with a trek through the RNC of 22 4x4s, bakkies and even a cross between a Buffel and a Unimog, required some fast thinking. Imagine sorting out traffic jams in the middle of the veld!
The millions of lights switched off during Earth Hour (March 28) reduced the electricity consumption by 400MW, said Eskom. The World Wildlife Fund, which organised the event, hailed it as “a phenomenal success”. The main gain, it said, was the massively increased awareness that ordinary people can become part of finding solutions to the environmental crisis confronting Earth.
The article on the spider walk in the February VeldTalk prompted some interesting responses: where to get more information on these intriguing but maligned creatures, questions about which spiders to avoid and what to do if one is bitten.
A special request from Inspector Bea Kűhn, Erasmia South African Police Service: “The SAPS Rural Security has been tasked with a project to help feed and clothe 12 000 needy children in Pretoria West. They need clothes and ‘anything that can be put on bread’ - jam, peanut, marmite, margarine - you name it.”
Can you help? Donations can be dropped at Lifestyle Industrial Park - that big complex next to Tatz Junction on the R511. Mark it for Insp Kűhn’s attention.
Conserv Security, originator of the YOR Plan (code for Yellow, Orange, Red) operating in Hills and Dales, Laezonia and Vlakfontein, is upgrading this community-based security system with a new Area Security Action Plan (ASAP).
The YOR Plan mobilises residents in rural areas to look after themselves by combining forces. This is not a haphazard rush-to-help-your-neighbour effort. All members are trained in their choice of response - patrolling, first-aid, communications, trauma-aid, fire-fighting, securing a crime scene, etc. Underpinning the system is a group SMS system and a radio network for call-outs and to co-ordinate responses to crises This prevents haphazard responses and confusion.
Conserv will hold meetings to explain the new system to current and to prospective members and review where improvements can be made to strengthen the system. Notices will be sent out well ahead of time.
Following reports of cholera being found in the Jukskei River, HeronBridge College sent a letter to parents reporting on their approach to the issue. This includes not irrigating the sports fields with river water, commissioning regular water tests and keeping children away from the river (regular policy).
The positive test for cholera was done quite far upstream. Tests further down were negative at this point in time.
PS: While the cholera tests are positive, further upstream an anti-litter campaign is launched. At the Juksei River in Alexandria MEC for Agriculture, Conservation and Environment, Mosunkutu launched the campaign to address residents about litter. See Chronicle report.
The R210 million SLAPP* suit of Wraypex, the developer of Blair Atholl Golf Estate against five members of the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy, has shrunk to four members and R170 million. (*SLAPP : Strategic Litigation against Public Participants)
Thanks to Tanya Gomes (Doornrandje), Christine Woessner (Laezonia), Karen Schimmel (Hennops) and Jeanette Horn (Hills & Dales) who provided rainfall figures for the past decades. Nobody sent in figures for the west of the RNC - the Oori or Vlakfontein - so VeldTalk deduces that no rain fell there during the past 20 years!