FoBCA Newsletter 2020 No. 2

We are living in uncertain and sad times indeed. Hibernating within the confines of our homes, and being overrun with news, information, statistics and graphs, I am sure many of you also take time to reflect about the world we live in, how it is being exploited, and how we can change it for the better. 
 
We asked Roy Fuller-Gee our previous Chairman of the FoBCA, and well known to most of our members, to give his thoughts during this time. Please read his thought-provoking message by clicking HERE

Here is an important message from Patrick Dowling, including take away thoughts for Wessa Members, Friends and Affiliates in his article entitled ENVIRONMENTAL LESSONS FROM A VIRUS

Sue Bellinger, a member of the FoBCA who was previously on the committee and now has the portfolio of Climate Change at the U3A, has some suggestions for positive action, TV programmes to watch, etc in her regular email on the topic.

City of Cape Town regarding nature reserves during lock-down

Koos Retief, the Reserve Manager of Blaauwberg Nature Reserve, sent the following Media Release after the start of the lockdown, which assures us that the City’s nature reserves are still being cared for:

City continues with environmental and beach management during lockdown
 
The City wants to assure residents that various measures have been put in place to ensure that the essential Environmental Management services continue during this time. Read more below:

Capetonians are reminded to contact the following numbers in case of environmental emergencies:

• 107 from a landline
• 112 (toll-free) or 021 480 7700 from a cell phone

The following essential services will be continuing during the lockdown:

Coastal management during lockdown

A small team of the City’s Coastal Management Department has been designated as essential staff during the lockdown. This team is on standby 24/7 in the event of any coastal emergency which may include the following:
• marine animal stranding
• coastal pollution events such as an oil spill or shipping disaster
• the collapse of significant coastal infrastructure, such as sea walls

Protection of African Penguins

Remedial management and actions with regards to the protection and safety of the penguins are prioritised. Two penguin monitors are conducting daily checks on the African Penguin colony in Simon’s Town. The transport of birds to SANCCOB for specialist treatment will continue during the lock down.

Hout Bay dunes

A small team of four coastal contracted workers is still undertaking basic tasks on the Hout Bay dune field to ensure that the municipal infrastructure is protected from loss, theft or damage during the lockdown.

Protecting the nature reserves and biodiversity

Quemic security rangers, as well as other security contractors, will continue with their duties. The rangers, with the support of limited permanent staff, will patrol the City’s nature reserves to ensure the protection of infrastructure and the integrity of these areas. Personnel from the City’s Environmental Management Department remain on standby for emergency responses such as general crime, theft, wildfires, wildlife conflict, essential faunal management, illegal land invasions and pollution events. A Working-on-Fire team stationed at Wolfgat Nature Reserve and the fire department will assist staff to respond to wildfires.

 
Baboon Management

The City’s Service provider for baboon management, Human Wildlife Solutions (HWS), is and will continue to ensure the safety of residents in baboon affected areas.
 
HWS has specialised vehicles and will monitor and control baboon movement that could place residents at risk, even in their own homes, at all hours. Residents can contact the Baboon Hotline on 071 588 6540 to report baboon issues and incidents.
 
Numerous resources have been made available to members of the public regarding COVID-19. These include:

 
For more information go to www.capetown.gov.za/coronavirus

iNaturalist Global City Nature Challenge  2020

The City Nature Challenge 2020 willcontinue, but as different parts of the world are affected to different degrees with regards to the pandemic, the event would no longer be fair if presented as a competition. It will remain the same exciting and innovative citizen science activity, just without the competitive dynamic. In terms of the training sessions for the challenge, most of these have been cancelled. At the time of writing, there was still one training session left for 21 April (please find the details here). However, there are exhaustive online tutorials available here that one can use to prepare for the challenge from home. Remember, you can still log observations from your own back yard! Nature is everywhere!

Member Matters

CREW visit to Mamre – report by Petra Broddle

On a beautiful and mild Valentine’s Day BCA CREW members spent the day on the hills above Mamre. We were joined by local Bertie Jacoman who shared with us his knowledge of the veld and the medicinal properties of plants in the area. Bertie has been in the Mamre Brass Band since 1974, plays five instruments and has toured the world.
 
We were looking for a new locality for a white flowering vygie by the name of Erepsia hallii that only grows on the hills of the Dassenberg. Although we did not find it in the target area, we did see it at a known location where we observed at least eight insect pollinators on the flowers in an otherwise very dry veld.

We were joined by French botanist Virginie Snyman and Jacques van der Merwe from the City of Cape Town Biodiversity Team.

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Front to back: Jacques van der Merwe, Petra Broddle, Jan Wicht & Richard Adcock. Photograph by Kay Loubser

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Bee Fly visiting the Endangered Erepsia hallii, photograph by Petra Broddle

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From left to right: Virginie Snyman, Petra Broddle, Bertie Jacoman, Richard Adcock and Jacques van der Merwe, photograph by Kay Loubser.

Report back on Fynbos Festival

A Fynbos Festival was organised by the Friends of Tokai. It was held on Sun 22 March just before the announcement of the lockdown. Organisations, bodies and individuals linked to fynbos were invited to set up stalls at the usual Tokai market held at The Range, Tokai. The FoBCA also had a stall. We sold quite a number of Flower Guides and decks of playing cards. The public at the market – mostly from the southern side of Cape Town – were very interested in the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve. Hopefully we see them in future at our events. The weather was not altogether pleasant, and the numbers to the market were reduced in view of the Covid-19 virus, but the organisers still deem it a big success.
 
Photos of the Festival was loaded onto the Friends of Tokai website, so please go and have a look as there were some very interesting stalls and concepts http://tokaipark.com/media/galleries/special-events/ (photos are in the Fynbos Festival gallery).

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Petra Broddle and Kay Loubser manning the FoBCA stall.

Honorary members

It is with pleasure that we announce that 2 FoBCA members have been awarded honorary membership of the FoBCA Kay Loubser and Jan Wicht. This is in appreciation of the many years of hard work and dedication they put into the CREW group of the Blaauwberg Area. Their input has extended the knowledge base of not just the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve, but also the wider Blaauwberg Conservation Area. Thanks for all your hard work Kay and Jan. We hope you can serve the FoBCA in this capacity for many years still to come.

Forthcoming events:

Due to the current pandemic, all FoBCA events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. We hope to start our regular events again as soon as there is clarity, and will keep you posted.

Last Words…

In our last newsletter we recommended some very readable books on the fascinating life of trees. This book about saving rare plants from extinction is highly recommended by Petra Broddle (CREW) - click on the cover to link to Goodreads book reviews.

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                                           The author, Carlos Magdalena

Elizabeth Gilbert's novel, The Signature of All Things is quite different to her very successful memoir Eat, Pray, Love and her earlier stories. It is about a fictional 19th-century botanist who specialises in mosses. She is well ahead of her time - well before Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, she independently arrives at a theory of life similar to his. It's a great story that will bring delight to all nature-lovers. Again, click on the cover to link to Goodreads book reviews.

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FoBCA Annual Reports