A family from Vlakfontein is spending next year criss-crossing Africa on their way to Cairo. The family is Marcelo de Freitas, his wife Celeste, daughter Danica (9) and son, Nicolai (6).
“We will leave Cape Town in January 2012 to hit the long road north to Cairo,” says Marcelo. “We will also be raising money for the Rhino Rescue Project.”
On an early morning walk through the veld we came across an impressive spider web, a couple of metres across with a large ball in the centre. The web had three gossamer “curtains” hanging from much thicker anchor threads, tied firmly to branches and grasses. We sent a pic to Astri Leroy of the Spider Club of SA with a “What's this, Astri!?” message.
Plastic water bottles are the biggest single source of garbage in the Grand Canyon, America's most iconic national park. So the National Parks Service had a plan: ban the sale of plastic water bottles in the Grand Canyon and invest in refillable water stations instead. The park was just weeks from implementing the ban - and then Coca Cola stepped in.
What are we going to do with the millions of plastic bottles littering our roads, rivers and gutters, considering that each plastic drinks bottle takes on average 450 years to biodegrade?
A group of Nigerian activists came up with a plan to build a house using plastic bottles. The prototype near the city of Kaduna is well underway. “Throw stones if you want to,” they say, “but this house is being built to last.”
The project was initiated by DARE, an NGO (Development Association for Renewable Energies: www.pciaonline.org/dare). “It could go a long way in solving Nigeria's huge housing need and cleaning the badly-polluted environment," said project initiator, Christopher Vassiliu.
Gautrans's new road system from Randburg to Lanseria Airport (R512, Malibongwe Drive) makes driving to the airport much easier. The work done on securing the steep road sides where the road goes through numerous cuttings is quite impressive. Vast areas of netting prevent the sides from eroding and soon vegetation grows through the netting.
This pioneer vegetation is usually grass so it was a surprise to find the banks of the R552 coming from Fourways, where it joins the R512, absolutely covered in a solid sheet of the prickly, noxious “Bloudissel” or “Mexican Poppy” (Argemone ochroleuca). This weed is mostly found in disturbed areas like agricultural waste land, next to roads, railway lines and dry river banks. According to the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations it is a Category 1b weed - therefore “remove and destroy”.
“It must have been the hottest week of this summer when we began the fieldwork for the local Stewardship Project,” says Mercia Komen who is driving the initiative to secure formal conservation in the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy and adjoining areas.
This region is one of the seven pilot sites selected in the province by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) for its Biodiversity Stewardship Project.
In a nutshell, the programme offers landowners the opportunity to become part of a proclaimed Nature Reserve or a Protected Environment.
The fieldwork started on Egoli Granite Grassland (EGG), a valuable, species-rich grass type that is endemic to Gauteng and is rapidly being destroyed.
Volunteer Justin Henry surrounded by the gold of the Egoli Granite Grassland
“A team of volunteers - varsity students and local landowners - headed into the veld for four days of intensive work,” says Mercia. “Ernest Seamark and Antonia Bezuidenhout from GDARD gave us the guidance we needed. They were very supportive and helpful. The team identified grass species, checked the vegetative cover and verified what every landowner already knows - the species richness in our veld is astounding!”
“There was great excitement recently when security cameras caught images of a couple of honey badgers walking along a game path in Kalkheuvel West,” writes Jenny Hyde-Johnson in Kalkheuvel's delightful newsletter, Wild News. “The honey badger’s pugnacious nature has led to many stories being told of the ferocity and belligerence of this little animal (Mellivora capensis). It was listed as the most fearless animal in the world in the 2002 Guiness Book of Records!”