The Silent Spring

The Silent Spring
Outramps CREW Diaries
5th March 2019

Leaproaches et al
We've had some interesting finds on the farm recently, which just reinforces my contention that you don't need to travel to exotic places to see special things, you just need to pay attention to what's around.

I found a small, odd (dead) creature in the house - this proved to be a leaproach (Saltoblatella), not a species I'd ever heard of before. This is not too surprising - the genus was first described only in 2009, and the species, S. montistabularis, is known only from Table Mountain and was discovered by UCT professor, Mike Picker. It was named in the international top 10 new species of 2011.

This was exciting enough - there were only two other records on iNaturalist, one from the Cederberg and one from the Overberg, but can you imagine my disbelief the following day when, as I sat on the low wall outside the office, another species of leaproach hopped up beside me ... Very slowly I inched away and into the office to grab my camera but fortunately it was in no rush to leave and I managed to get some good shots, all the while holding the rambunctious puppy at bay with one extended leg. It's no wonder leaproaches have escaped notice for so long - in the first place they are really small, secondly they live in grass or sedge and thirdly they can jump like nobody's business (of the 4000 known cockroach species, Saltoblatella is the only one which can leap and is one of the world's best insect jumpers). Oh, and they only appear in mid-summer ...

Mike Picker tells me there are now at least 12 undescribed species of leaproach from the Western and Eastern Cape, stretching as far as Port Elizabeth.

More exciting finds in February were an out-of-range European Honey Buzzard, a small flock of Amur Falcons (which enjoyed hunting grasshoppers along with the White Stork) and a very cute Cape Reed Snake, which swam over to check us out, tied itself in a few knots, then sped off across the water.

Pledge Nature Reserve
22nd February 2019
Pledge Nature Reserve was declared a Local Nature Reserve on 11th October 1991 and is administered by the Pledge Nature Reserve Trust. The approximately 10 ha was used as a brickfield and later a dumping ground, but now paths meander from wetland, through riverine thicket into fynbos. Nanna Joubert is a very active trustee, using her many skills to help look after this reserve. One of the regular activities carried out weekly in the reserve is "Weeding Wednesdays", when a group of volunteers spend at least an hour removing some of the alien plants that have come up since the reserve burnt in the Knysna wildfires in June 2017. The effectiveness of their work, now many hours, is clearly visible.

Nanna invited the Outramps to visit Pledge, and we did so on Friday 22nd. This was a LOT and SIM trip and we were pleased to be joined by Jo-Anne King, the young, very enthusiastic interim chair of the Garden Route branch of the Botanical Society. Nanna met us at the bottom gate. As we made our way through the reserve, many topics were discussed including the spread of the Polyphagous Shothole Borer and the fungus (Fusarium euwallaceae) which grows in the tunnels made by the borer, blocking the tree’s vascular system, killing off all sorts of trees, both indigenous and exotic. We also chatted about the removal of aliens and the origin and diversity of the plants in the reserve.

Nanna then lead us to two sites where populations of Dioscorea burchellii (VU) are looking healthy, before we headed to the highest point of the reserve where we were going to sit at the table to enjoy a snack. This was not to be, as when Sandra sat down on the bench, she felt a sting and on quick investigation realized she had disturbed a large nest of wasps who were not keen on company! After a group photo and admiring the view we slowly made our way down towards the gate. It was declared "coffee time" and we strolled to Polvo Coffee Bar, where we continued discussions while enjoying coffee and cheese cake!

Thank you so much Nanna for the enjoyable and interesting morning walk and for all the work you do to keep this oasis as a place in which to enjoy nature. It is only 200m from a mall.


Silent Spring
Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve Forum Meet – Ladismith 26 Feb 2019

Inspiration was delivered in big dollops during AnneLise Schutte-Vlok’s brilliant big five line-up in Ladismith.

I strongly felt marine biologist & conservationist Rachel Carson’s chilling cautionary against harmful chemicals in her book Silent Spring (1962) during two of the presentations. I cannot completely compress all the information of the morning into a sensible compact format the way it spoke to my head and heart but here goes.
“It is not half so important to know as to feel.” Rachel Carson.

  1. A wider roll-out of one of the Oudtshoorn-based Trapsuutjies Water Wise Ways projects could save even more water. High water meter readings and households are investigated and plumbing woes repaired. The community is made aware of water conservation, while plumbing skills are transferred to locals. Can one play a Water Touches Game with this project? For every household repaired, another household touched or tagged to follow suit?
    “Nature has introduced great variety into the landscape, but man has displayed a passion for simplifying it. Thus he undoes the built-in checks and balances by which nature holds the species within bounds”. Rachel Carson

  2. The Swartberg Complex is a World Heritage Site and Team Swartberg is busy with a management plan for this ‘exquisite gem of the GCBR’. Kgaugelo Shadung (KG), Tom Barry, Phillip Esau, Natalie Baker and AnneLise Vlok mostly used maps for their quick overview of the Reserves. Reference was made to vegetation and aquatic units; plants and animals of conservation concern; highlights and challenges; biodiversity targets; eco-system services values; invasive alien plant infestation; spekboom restoration potential and a vision.
    “In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.” Rachel Carson

• There are two genetically distinct populations of Cape Mountain Zebra (CMZ) in the Swartberg Complex. The herd at Gamka is doing well. The 2017 fire gave the population a boost. Affordable eco-tourism accommodation at Gamka demonstrates to visitors that environmentally friendly living ís possible and the reserve also features a new KhoiSan Heritage Trail.

• At Kammanassie where the reserve is surrounded by private landowners (no access for tourists for this reason), Flippie says that inbreeding can and does occur with the CMZ and Burchell’s Zebra of adjacent game farms.
• There has been abstraction of groundwater since the early 1990’s for the Oudtshoorn district in the Vermaaks River and monitoring in the vicinity shows 55 dried up springs.
• Frequency of fire cycles: AnneLise explained that the post-fire Veld Age for more than two thirds of the Swartberg Complex is less than four years. This has huge implications for the Cape Sugarbird. The birds rely on Protea trees and shrubs of which it is a pollinator. It is not known how far the birds can fly. It is desirable that 50% of Proteas should flower three times before the next fire cycle. For some Protea species this can be 10 years, others 15 years (research by Jan Vlok). Veld richness and the pressure of resprouter overstorey Proteas also impact on water availability, as there is a higher water yield associated with non-sprouting plants.

The Swartberg Complex is inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as part of the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas. To be included on the list, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one of ten selection criteria. Our Cape Floral Region is listed as meeting two:
"Criterion (ix): The property is considered of Outstanding Universal Value for representing ongoing ecological and biological processes associated with the evolution of the unique Fynbos biome.
Criterion (x): The Cape Floral Region is one of the richest areas for plants when compared to any similar sized area in the world.
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” Rachel Carson

  1. Donovan Kotze for President! He has been living in Ladismith for a year and now punts alien plant hacking as a sport. In the eight months from May to Dec 2018, by hacking twice a month with two companions, 2073 Pine and Hakea trees were cut in 1018 ha of spectacularly beautiful landscapes in the Klein Swartberg, clad in magnificent low infested Fynbos. Whilst waving his nifty saw, he says that hacking as a sport has eclipsed trail running for him - and that hacking can even satisfy a primal hunting instinct! Donovan worked closely with KG of Swartberg Nature Reserve to plan and record progress stats. Dangerous sites were avoided and high infestations left to WfW.

He tables this vision for 2020 as a GCBR challenge: For thirty local leisure sport hackers to clear 10 000ha of low infestation veld within the GCBR and to find creative ways to promote hacking as a sport.
Hack into his Vision: Donovan – 082 302 2228.
“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” Rachel Carson

  1. "Biodiversity and Bees" presented by self-funded researcher Jenny Cullinan was my favourite. Although bees have been a recurring theme for me to read about over many years, the most important penny of all, only dropped for me as she talked. Captive honeybees are captive! They are not the same as wild honeybees.

“It is an important time in history as insect populations are collapsing with an 80% insect biomass loss globally in the past 25years” – is how she introduces her talk. The main reason for the decimation is the intensive use of agricultural chemicals. Her main area of research has been the Cape Point Nature Reserve where there are 92 wild nests (not all occupied). Our Cape honeybee is unique in the world in its reproductive cycle and the "girl power" adaptation to re-queen the swarm when the queen does not return from her mating flight to the nest (sometimes due to infamously strong Cape winds). Bees are a keystone species. Remove them and a massive collapse follows.

In Germany there are virtually no remaining wild bees. Bees are boxed, industrialized, managed and medicated. They have changed, lost their nature (this cannot be bred back) and the kept bees are not well. Bees only take from nature what they need says Jenny and during Q&A replied that she does not use/buy honey as bees only make what they need for themselves. Hives are built with surplus space in the upper section, in effect forcing the bees to make extra honey, which humans harvest. In Fynbos wild, free bees usually nest in rocks.

Bees in their own nests self-medicate on propolis. This is from resin collected from plants such as buchu – said to be a dedicated task and not pleasant. The bees knead the propolis and wipe themselves down as they come and go about. They maintain a very specific environment in their nests, managing temperature and numerous other creatures (as many as 300 other species!) in a give and take symbiosis, which keeps them healthy and productive.

Bees are 100% reliant on flowers. They are our pollinators, though solitary bees top them by far in efficiency of pollination services. There are nearly 2000 species of solitary bees, they are specialist pollinators. Solitary bees are indicator species, reflecting the health of the environment. It is of vital importance to support small organic farmers in order to retain healthy wild bee populations.

Bees in hives are stressed, unhappy, often unhealthy and prone to compromised immune system challenges. Maintaining wild bee populations is the best option. Herbicides, pesticides and agro chemicals are poisons to bees. To survive, bees need healthy above and below ground eco-systems. We need bees to survive.

There are many fascinating and precious intricacies to bee life which Jenny alluded to, definitely worth knowing about. Following on the CREW principle - a bee guardianship movement, COMB (Caretakers of Melliferous Bees), is now taking off.

Jenny records a bee diary on the UJUbee Facebook page. This is from an article posted on the 2nd Feb 2019:
“Wild honeybees require natural nesting sites, something heavily constrained in the Western Cape resulting from intensive land-use and the dependence of the Fynbos biome on fire. Wild honeybees, kept wild and therefore not bred, are a critical resource for biodiversity in South Africa and should truly be protected in all pockets of natural vegetation”.
“As crude a weapon as the cave man’s club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life.” Rachel Carson

  1. “We live on the rooftops of a hidden world. Beneath the soil surface lies a land of fascination and also of mysteries….” (in H.D Foth’s ‘Fundamentals of Soil Science’).

LandCare’s Francis Steyn (Dept of Agriculture) echoes the theme of harm done - specifically to soil - through the unnecessary practice of cultivation (i.e. ploughing) and the cumulative effect of the use of chemicals in agriculture.
He poses this as hypothesis: To prove that food grown naturally - without herbicides and pesticides - increases the soil health and decreases the need for irrigation.
Healthy soil:
It is never necessary to cultivate soil (no ploughing, tilling!)
Topsoil – the top 3 cm is absolutely vital
Good soil is friable, controls temperature and rain & wind erosion, maintains and holds moisture
Mulch – soil requires a permanent cover – living and dead
Soils needs diversity (i.e crops)
Soil is a living entity (harbours countless organisms)
Carbon is an indicator of soil quality
Earthworms are what soil needs!

Francis says mainstream agriculture kills all life in soils by adding chemicals, pesticides, herbicides to this medium in which our food is grown. Ditto the addition here of harmful chemicals to crops. In many instances crops are sprayed weekly, often with no reason. No wonder the incidence of cancer has increased from 10% to close to 70%. Francis is funny and entertaining, but his topic dead serious. The visuals in his presentation illustrate well what he saysl. His main involvement has been in viticulture. Plus minus two thirds of herbicides allowed for viticulture are on Green Peace’s Blacklist. Conservation farming and crop rotation show bigger yields and benefits over time. Shifting the mind set of farmers to different practices – well, that may take even longer.
The website for Conservation Agriculture Western Cape (CACW):

“It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.” Rachel Carson

Greentings! Sandra

Camferskloof Post-Burn
It is the first time we have visited Camferskloof, since the George wildfires in late October 2018. I shanghaied a WAGS outing to do some post-burn monitoring.

There is regeneration in the valleys and on the south-facing slopes. On the northern slopes it looks like a desert from a distance, because there has been no significant rain for ages. The Burnsleigh Dam is as empty as I've seen it in 50 years. The watercourse itself is grass green with Elegia capensis, Cliffortia strobilifera and Cliffortea graminea.

Along the path, Otholobium heterosepalum (Rare) is resprouting vigorously. Oxalis pendulifolia (Near Threatened) is a bright flash of red on the blackened soil. Psoralea diturnerae (Endangered) is going for the gap and thriving with the lack of serious competition. Since the fires, this resprouter is all over the northern Outeniqua foothills and consideration should be given to downgrading the threat to Near Threatened.

In the photograph above, you can see the green field in the foreground. This has a significant population of the endangered Aspalathus glabrescens and it is being repopulated with young Pines. Surely invasive Pines should not be tolerated in this particular valley, which is so rich in threatened and endemic plants? The mind boggles!

And Cape Nature, a lot of money has been spent refurbishing the stone hut at Camferskloof. The guttering is currently disconnected from the water tank and is hanging down the walls. If it is not urgently sorted, it will have to be replaced at more cost. I don't think that anyone from the Outeniqua Reserve reads our weekly report detailing the rare plants, path reports etc that we send out religiously, after visiting any of the areas in the Reserve. Not sure what I should do about that, but no doubt I will make a plan. We know that you are perilously short of field rangers. We are your eyes on the ground and we cost you nothing, so please use the information we so diligently provide on a voluntary basis.


BotSoc to diarise!
The Botanical Society of SA is reconvening a Garden Route Branch. Do attend the AGM Saturday 16th March at the Garden Route Botanical Garden, Caledon St, George, Registration 10h00, meeting at 10h30.

Field Trips
Well, 10mm of rain prevented our trip to Goukamma again!!! It is difficult to do site sheets and take photographs in the rain. I am hoping to monitor the St Blaize Trail at Mossel Bay on Friday, but currently there is heavy rain forecast, so we will have to wait and see.
Hamba Kahle
Groete en dankie
Di Turner
Outramps CREW Group
Southern Cape

All id’s subject to confirmation by Doc Annelise and Jan Vlok, Steven Molteno, Dr Tony Rebelo, Nick Helme, Prof Charlie Stirton, Dr Robert Archer, Dr Robert McKenzie, Dr Ted Oliver, Dr Christopher Whitehouse, Adriaan Grobler, Prix Burgoyne, Dr Kenneth Oberlander, Dr Pieter Winter, Dr David Gwynne-Evans, Malthinus and Mattmatt on iNat. Thank you all for your ongoing help and support

Outramps Places on iNaturalist – You can browse through the observations or refer to the checklist which is in alphabetical order eg. Animals, birds etc.
Area covered by Southern Cape Herbarium -
Cola Conservancy -
Dune Molerat Trail -
Featherbed Nature Reserve -
Gamkaberg -
Gerickes Punt -
Gouriqua -
Gouritzmond -
Heaven in the Langkloof -
Herolds Bay -
Kammanassie -
Klein Swartberg -
Knysna - Westford Bridge
Kouga Mountains Kliphuis -
Kranshoek -
Langeberg Grootvadersbosch -
Masons Rust -
Mons Ruber and surrounds -
Mossel Bay Aalwyndal -
Mossel Bay Diosma Reserve -
Mossel Bay - :

Mossel Bay -
Mossel Bay -
Mossel Bay St Blaize Trail -
Natures Valley -
Outeniquas Bobbejaanberg -
Outeniquas Camferskloof -
Outeniquas, Collinshoek and the Big Tree -
Outeniquas - Cradock and George Peak Trail -
Outeniquas Doringrivier East -
Outeniquas East -
Outeniquas Eseljagt -
Outeniquas Eseljagtpoort -
Outeniquas Flanagans Rock -
Outeniquas Lange Berg -
Outeniquas Montagu Pass North -
Outeniquas Paardekop -
Outeniquas Paardepoort East -
Outeniquas Paardepoort West -
Outeniquas Pizza Ridge -
Outeniquas Southern Traverse -
Robberg Corridor -
Robberg Corridor -
Rooiberg -
Spioenkop -
Strawberry Hill -
Swartberg Spitskop -
Swartberg, Swartberg Pass to Bothashoek high and low -
Swartberg Waboomsberg -
Uitzicht Portion 39 -
Uitzicht -
Western Head -
Western Head –
Western Head -
Western Head -
White Heather -
Wilderness Brown Hooded Kingfisher Trail –
Wilderness Kingfisher Trail -
Witteberg Kromme Rivier -

Outramps CREW Stellenbosch HAT node
Jonkershoek created by Vynbos -
Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve -
Papegaaiberg -

Outramps Projects on iNaturalist
Ericas of the Southern Cape -
Fungi of the Southern Cape -
Lianes and Creepers in the Southern Cape and Little Karoo -
Veg Types of South Africa -

Flowers of the High Drakensberg -

Abbreviations Glossary

MCSA – Mountain Club of South Africa
MSB - Millenium Seed Bank based at Kew in the UK
WIP – Work in Progress
HAT – High Altitude Team
LOT – Lowland Team
SIM – Somewhere in the Middle Team
WAGS – Wednesday Adventure Group
VB – Vlok Boekie “Plants of the Klein Karoo” and our Plant Bible
ITRTOL – Another thread “In The Rich Tapestry Of Life”(It describes a challenging situation, usually to do with the Buchu Bus)
ITFOT – In the fullness of time
WOESS – Fair Weather Hiker
FMC and JW – too vulgar to translate, but the equivalent is “Strike me Dead” - An expression of surprise and delight on finding a new “Rare”
Kambro – same as above
Fossick – A meter per minute, scratching around looking for rares
SIDB – Skrop in die Bos – Another name for a field trip, this one coined by Prix
BAFFING – Running round like a blue-arsed fly
SYT – Sweet Young Thing - Anyone under the age of 40
TOMB – Get a move on
Mayhem - Needless or willful damage or violence
SESKRYNG – “Sit en staan kry niks gedaan” ,with thanks to Brian
SOS – Skelms on Scramblers
FW – Idiot
BOB – Another name for the Buchu Bus when she’s misbehaving.
CRAFT – A symptom of Old Age
DDD - Metalasia tricolor (Damned Diabolical Daisy)
VP – Vrekplek – Retirement Village
Qàq – Self-explanatory Inuit word describing some of our local problems
Mr Fab – Our Fabaceae specialist, Brian Du Preez – originally Boy 1
Muisvoel -The Mathematician – Peter Thompson
Boy 2 – Kyle Underwood who works on Orchids and is still at school
Sharkie – Finn Rautenbach – Our latest SYT is a surfer in his spare time and is now the Curator of the Garden Route Botanical Garden
Sicko – Someone who suffers from Car Sickness. With 4 in the Group, allocating seating in the Buchu Bus is tricky
VAG – Virgin Active Garage, which is our meeting place when we head north
MATMUE – Meet At The Mall Under E - Meeting place when we head West
WG – Waves Garage in Wilderness East. - Meeting place when we’re going east.
VU- Vulnerable
DDT – Data Deficient and Taxonomically ?
NT – Near Threatened
EN – Endangered
CR – Critically Endangered
PE – Presumed extinct
LC – Least Concern
TBC – To be Confirmed
TLC – Tender loving care
JMS – An expression of absolute disdain
FOMO – Fear of Missing Out
Milk – the fruit of the vine
Condensed Milk – Scotland’s finest export
Full Cream Milk or Fat Milk – Any product of Humulus lupulus eg. Milk Stout
Milk of the Gods – Rooibos and Brandy
Milk Shake - Sparkling Wine
NS – Species of conservation concern new to the Outramps
PS -Priority Species allocated to the Outramps by our CREW Cape Co-ordinator , Ismail Ebrahim
iNatFD – iNaturalist for Dummies as compiled by Sally
Mizzle – Mist and drizzle combined. A regular feature of George in the ”good old days”.
FE – Fire Ephemeral – only appears immediately or after a couple of years after fire
Squirrel – aka President Ramaphosa
WOG – Wrath of God – eg. incurred when you put a young Pine tree on iNat as Leucadendron album
Skedonk - A banger - old, battered motor car more than 30 years old
Hoedown - redneck gathering, usually involves shouting catchy phrases like "yee-haw" and "the south will rise again"
VHF - Vat Hom Fluffie - our nickname for furry or woolly plants
SA - Stay Attractive is Google's translation of "Mooi Bly"
OTL - Out To Lunch is used to describe the Buchu Bus when she's taking a break after she's behaved badly
DFKIAA - A very funny video in Afrikaans is doing the rounds. It refers to the current power outages.

Publicado por outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi, 05 de marzo de 2019


What is the problem with large parts of the Swartberg being young? Before humans stopped fires, the entire mountain range (100%) probably burned during most fire events, and so the entire age of the range would have been 1 year old, then 2 years, then 3 years, etc. The birds would just have gone to the Langeberg or Kouga Mountains, or concentrated in the unburned patches.

Similarly, with proteas. The reason why those plants taking 12 years to flower is a problem is because the veld is not being burned often enough. Those are the species that live in fire refugia, and if the veld is not burned often enough, then the fuel accumulates and the fire refugia burn and are lost and these species suffer. Mistaking fire refugia with average veld is a serious mistake.

Where is my leaping roach? I cannot see a picture. Help: withdrawal syndrome - I need my fix!

Publicado por tonyrebelo hace casi 4 años (Marca)
Publicado por outramps-tanniedi hace casi 4 años (Marca)

ah - by Sally - missed that

Publicado por tonyrebelo hace casi 4 años (Marca)

Agregar un comentario

Acceder o Crear una cuenta para agregar comentarios.