Gamkaberg Delight’s – CREW update!

 “That Bloody Old Bitch”, and no, I wasn’t talking about me.  The Buchu Bus has been up to her shenanigans again.  I was joining a group from WESSA to do an exploratory trip to Gamkaberg and the Rooiberg Pass, in preparation for a Geology/Fossil/ Plant trip at the end of August.  

 Just past Saasveld, a red light started flashing.  I did a quick turnaround and drove her back to Strawberry Hill.  I parked her, kicked the wheel, cursed her and then shouted at Bill and transferred to Bloody Mary (BMW).  Fortunately I had started early, so I still made it in time.  Someone’s head needs to roll.  The Bus has just come back from a very expensive service and a repair of that fault.

It was a glorious day and it was great fun preparing for the expedition later in the year.  It was wonderful to be able to talk to Tom Barry at length.  We are so proud of Gamkaberg Nature Reserve.  They have just been named one of the 50 most sustainable resorts in Africa.  So congratulations to Cape Nature, Ivan Donian, Tom Barry and the wonderful rangers at the Reserve.  Thanks to Annemarie Gebhardt too, who is doing such a lot of work to make the WESSA trip a success.

On Wednesday, WAGS did an exploratory trip to see if the path to the Kaaimans Cave and further to Kleinplaat had been cleared.  I’d forgotten how steep the last bit was, but we are all very excited to see one of the most attractive tracks in the Southern Cape made accessible again.  It used to be the 2nd day of the original Outeniqua Hiking Trail.  If I remember, it was about 26kms with a pack for 8 days.  It was a killer.  OT, I’ll be in touch to discuss doing this stretch, which has not yet been CREWed.  The path to the east of Tierkop en route to the Hut, desperately needs clearing.  There are steep drops and someone is going to have an accident on this very popular walk.  The path has fallen away and is very bushed.  It is not a long section and 1 team could do it in a day.

We started chasing our list of Priority species on Friday.  From the top of the Robinson Pass, we headed west along the Koumashoek Trail up to where Erica juniperina (Endangered) grows.  It was bitterly cold and even a watery sun didn’t warm it up much. The plants were looking good, although they were over.  Another of the priority species is Lobelia ardisiandroides (Data Deficient), which also grows at this site in the rock crevices.  So it was 2 for the price of one and we had a lovely day out in the mountains.

A week or two ago, I discussed “The Miracle of Doringrivier”  In reply to that, I had a note from Tony Marshall. I agree with you re Doringrivier but cannot take all the credit for the rehab of that area. To date this has been a 30 year process and included a number of foresters [in those days –  when “Xmas trees were tall and dinosaurs ruled the earth”]. Pierre Weinberg started the process, in the early 80’s when the area was still managed by Swartberg, followed by Manie Steenkamp, Ivan Donian, myself, Nigel, Collette and now OT who are continuing and maintaining the process. This maintenance is actually now the most critical part to ensure that all the work [and the death] that has been carried out by hundreds of people over the years was not wasted. Alien veg management takes huge amounts of money, lots of time, lots of people and commitment as you can never sit back and say “its done”. The effort is however, as you can see in Doringrivier and Camferskloof [which was in the same condition], worthwhile. Attakwaskloof was also in a similar condition while Swartberg [particularly Klein Swartberg], Kammanassie and Rooiberg were also well on their way to becoming totally infested. So the last 30 years have seen a huge amount of and great work.

This is such a success story and it’s a pity that it isn’t publicised more.  At Tom’s suggestion, I’ve decided to approach Laurie Conway of SAB Hop Farms.  Burnsleigh is the Camferskloof neighbour and is infested with aliens.  These spill over into the Reserve and make Cape Nature’s life even more difficult.  Hopefully, we can get SA Breweries to start a proper alien-clearing programme.  Rumour has it that they may have already started clearing, but perhaps adding my voice, could give it a bit of impetus.

Sometime this week we are hoping to go in search of Argyrolobium harmsianum (Endangered), which is one of our Priority species.  It would be great if the powers that be could give us some idea of the location.  It is said to occur from Agulhas to Mossel Bay.  Even the very energetic Outramps, would find this a little difficult to walk.

Groete en dankie

Di Turner

Outramps CREW Group

Southern Cape

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