67 Minutes for uMhlanga Stream.
The uMngeni Municipality is so impressed with Mpophomeni Conservation Group (MCG) turning an illegal waste dump in into a food garden, that they granted MCG permission to turn the land over the road from the community garden into a recycling centre and park. A small stream flows through the community garden and under Mhlongo Road and becomes the uMhlanga Stream that eventually runs into Midmar. Currently, the area is degraded and used as a dumping site for rubble and household waste. Informal paths are used by pedestrians and cattle. MCG believe that the area could be transformed into a community space which everyone could be proud of. With N3TC funding a Recycling Centre is being created to offer residents an alternative to throwing waste into the river, encourage everyone to see that many of the items they throw away are actually still useful and educating them about protecting our precious water resources.
To celebrate Mandela’s Birthday, 70 members of the community converged on the stream to clear the rubbish – 67 Minutes for uMhlanga and Madiba. The challenge was on. Could we collect at least 67 bags? Melusi Dladla and his friend Nqubeko Mtshali declared “This is the time to make a change,” as they got to work. Some started at the bottom on Mandela Drive working their way up, while another group set to work from the top of the stream. By the end of the afternoon a mammoth 118 bags had been collected! All the volunteers enjoyed a fresh salad sandwich and fruit in the Community Garden afterwards.
Zamile Mtambo, project visionary, “Starting at uMhlanga stream we will be fearless eco-warriors going from section to section, encouraging and cleaning up the whole community. We will create spaces where people can meet to discuss community issues and share stories. Currently these are no open spaces in Mpophomeni where gatherings like these can take place.”
MCG intends that the uMhlanga Stream will once again be filled with the reeds that give it its name. They have been replaced by plastic for far too long.
Hot Opportunity for Local Lad.
While Nhlonipho Ndlovu from Imbali didn’t particularly want to be a fireman when he was growing up, as many little boys do, he has grasped an opportunity he was given recently and who knows where it will lead.
Nhlonipho was a student of the Protec Pietermaritzburg Academy that assists top students to improve their maths skills. In 2015, he achieved very good results in his final examinations 73% for Maths and 66% for Chemistry and Physics. Sadly, despite his good results, he was unable to enrol for tertiary study due to financial constraints.
After meeting Rose Smuts, Executive Director of Protec Pmb at the Vula Programme/PROTEC Pmb Career Day at Hilton College in February this year, Ms Taryn Govender, of Taryn G Consulting, asked Rose for a recommendation of suitable candidates to be interviewed for an Internationally Accredited Fire Fighting Academy, that she is closely associated with. Rose replied immediately “I have one really enthusiastic applicant who has already put his name forward for your offer! Nhlonipho is a robust young man of medium build, and should do very well in training. His gift for mathematics and science, should also help him in some of the theory lectures.”
Nhlonipho lives with his widowed mother who is a pensioner. He had wanted to study something in the mechanical engineering field, so Fire Fighting with all of its equipment, is related. To the delight of all, Nhlonipho was selected for the Course, and is now well integrated into the various theoretical lectures and practical training sessions. This is an internationally accredited training course, so once qualified, he will be able to work anywhere as well as study further.
Rose is thrilled “Instead of this wonderful young man having to sit idly at home, he is on the road towards an exciting future. We wish him everything of the best. Our grateful thanks to Taryn G for providing PROTEC Pmb with this amazing opportunity for one of our post-students.”
Clearing on the Commonage.
Last year, the 15 000 hectare Fort Nottingham Commonage, that is part of the Lions Bush Conservancy, was declared an official Nature Reserve. As is the case on many KZN Midlands properties, alien invasive plants thrive, transforming the grasslands.
Grasslands are not only critically important biodiverse regions but also supply important ecological services like holding the topsoil in high rainfall areas, acting as sponges and storing carbon.
Grasses also provide grazing for game and domestic stock. In South Africa, 44% of mammals are found in the Grasslands Biome, but only 3% of the original area of grassland in KZN is protected, which makes it very important to conserve this area. Almost 300 bird species have been recorded and there are reed buck, bush buck and jackal as well as baboons, duiker, serval, mongoose, ant bears, porcupines and genet too.
Many grass orchids occur including Eulophia ovalis, Satyrium longicauda, Eulophia leontoglossa.
An invasive alien plant is any plant, shrub or tree which has a negative environmental impact in a particular locality. The main negative impacts of problem plants are invasiveness i.e. the supplanting of naturally occurring species and subsequent loss of bio-diversity, and excessive water consumption.
Through the Midlands Conservancies Forum, Lion’s Bush Conservancy (LBC) received funds to tackle this problem. Purchasing appropriate herbicides and hiring local labour to spray, clear and treat an area of invasive alien plants on the Fort Nottingham Commonage adjacent to a neighbouring farm. Project Champion, LBC Chair Roy Tabernor, is pleased with progress, “This is an ongoing project of our Conservancy as there are many hectares of wattle, bug weed and bramble to clear. We are delighted to have been able to provide training and temporary employment for a number of local people and are grateful to N3TC for their support.”
Balgowan, Curry’s Post and Karkloof Conservancies are in the advanced planning stage of implementing their N3TC funded invasive alien plant control projects, protecting even more of our precious grasslands.
Lions Bush Conservancy hosts regular walk in the area – on the third Thursday of each month. Contact Roy Tabernor to book. 082 487 0922