The Conservancy's 2009 “Ride the Rhenoster” mountain bike ride elicited varied responses. From “Wow, this was absolutely awesome!” and “The toughest I've ever done” (gasp) to “I am so proud of myself!”
The 35 km route started at Hennopsrivier Primary School with 235 riders ready to challenge the Rhenoster. From there it went west along Lazy River Road, crossed the Hennops and turned south through Roodekrans to Koppie-Alleen. The 20km riders turned back here – a tough ride already!
The rest continued through Hills and Dales, over Ladybird Hill into Vlakfontein. At that point the real challenge started – up a very steep hill, down again into a deep ravine at an almost 45 degree angle (well, almost!), to be confronted with another uphill ride. Some pro's claimed they never got of their bikes, the rest shook their heads in disbelief. Altogether an 850m incline.
Lessons learnt by the RNC team:
Hennops Primary School served boeries, hot dogs and softdrinks and made a healthy profit. Plans are afoot to add a Beer Garden at the school next year.
Thanks to all who pitched in to help, and especially to Miles Crisp, ex RNC resident, for his expert input. Thank you also to Laezonia residents who helped with road safety, manning the crossing point until late afternoon. And finally - a special thanks to all those landowners who made access over their private properties available for the occasion.
It's amazing how many of the old wives' tales of bats flying into your hair or carrying lice still survive.
Bat expert Nigel Fernsby dealt with these scare stories during his talk on bats at Alpha Conference Centre in August. Bats are valuable allies and their Dracula image is undeserved. Large bat colonies can eat tons of insects, making their presence a boon to farmers.
The bats that Nigel brought to the talk were tiny, cuddly and cute. True, there are some bats with faces that look like they're dressed for Halloween or had flown slap-bang into a brick wall, but all bats should not be tarred with the same brush.
The group that gathered in Alpha's Batis Room (!) included many kids. They responded immediately to Nigel's love for and extensive knowledge of bats, jostling to get a closer look at the little creatures. Listening to the bats' “voices” picked up by a locator was a new experience. And hearing that some of the larger bat species regard rose beetles and other fruit pests as a crunchy delicacy was good news to keen gardeners and farmers.
Thank you to Nigel and Rose Fernsby for their willingness to spend an evening freely imparting their knowledge. Also to Alpha's team for giving the Conservancy such excellent service.
The annual History Tour through the Conservancy highlighted two issues – first, the value of the intriguing places hidden in valleys, rock formations and caves of the Conservancy; secondly, the irreversible damage being done to some of these places by criminals or careless members of the public.
Travelling by luxury bus, the tour group went via Koppie-alleen, that strange little sentinel in the middle of the veld, the Silver Mine Cave and Daisy Farm. “Having been given the background to these places and the Conservancy, there was plenty of time for people to explore the different sites and take pics,” says Dalene van der Merwe, who organised the tour.
A delicious lunch was served by the Anguses at a Late Iron Age Stone Circle on their property, Bonathaba. The Bonathaba horses came to greet the group, to the delight of the kids who fed them with carrots!
Dalene expressed concern about the material being removed from Daisy Farm and trees being cut on and around Koppie-alleen. Cutting trees, mainly Karees, has become a serious problem, especially in Doornrandje.
Luxury bus tours: Contact Daryl Smith, Rhino Tours & Safaris: 082 451 0869; www.rhinotours.co.za.
Steve Panos reports from the Oori Game Reserve in Riverside Estates:
The endeavour to provide sports facilities for local kids in the Oori has taken off. Michelle Panos, who initiated this project, writes: “About 15 boys and 12 girls arrive to play each weekend. Three of the local landowners' boys came on their small motorbikes and asked to join in. Within minutes they were all playing together on our very rudimentary fields, displaying team work and talent which belied the humble facilities. It was heartwarming to see how sports really can transcend socio-economic barriers.”
At a recent Community Policing Forum (CPF) meeting in Doornrandje the issue of reporting criminal activities came up. Residents often neglect to report minor incidents because it is so time-consuming to drive the distance to the police station and wait for the statement to be written up but Francis Gomes, CPF area chairman, warns that this creates a very false impression that there is no crime. This means no or few resources are allocated to the area.
Biodiversity stewardship is based on identifying and contracting with landowners to protect biodiversity on their land. Gauteng's target is 158 000 ha (9% of the province). Landowners in the RNC have expressed interest in becoming involved in stewardship programmes.
For Very High Constraint Zones the draft REMF states: “Any proposed change of land use, development or construction will require a full EIA procedure, including specialist biodiversity studies... All preferred land uses within this zone should be aimed at biodiversity conservation and management with the aim of maximising the open space integrity and connectivity for species movement.”
The Botanical Society will lead a walk in the Rhensoterspruit Nature Conservancy on 10 October 2009.
The walk leaves from Tatz Junction, and will explore the diverse flora of the Egoli Granite Grassland.
Pack a picnic lunch, or book with the restaurant at Tatz Junction.
Did you know....