Baviaanskloof, and on to Willowmore
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
We were planning to go to Baviaanskloof from Addo-today-we-have-warthogs but that was when the mountain fire brought us home in hurry. In December 2010 we did go to the Baviaanskloof Conservation Area, which is 189,000 ha. We start at the east end.
|The road less travelled|
We needed a permit and a high-clearance vehicle for this route. Through 12 river crossings and over mountain passes. Feeling adventurous. Until an African taxi, loaded with people and pulling a trailer of luggage, passed us, heading for the city of Port Elizabeth.
|Leopard-friendly in Baviaanskloof|
with onion for seeds (the surrounding mountains prevent contamination)
and 'mutton' resting in the shade of the thorn-tree
We are vegetarian, but the Karoo is famous for its mutton. The sheep browse on Karoo bossies, including wild rosemary. On the mountain slopes above the farms are wild leopards. Waging a running battle against gin-traps. This is the leopard-friendly mutton you can buy in our Woolworth’s shops. Nature conservation breeds Anatolian sheep-dogs, who keep the leopards safely away.
|We stop carefully for tortoises|
|Owl rock in Baviaanskloof|
Hers and his
I leaned, to show you My Owl.
|The Baviaanskloof River|
Baviaanskloof was created to conserve many different vegetation types, including fynbos with pincushion proteas Leucospermum cuneiforme on ‘some remarkably flat plateaus, part of what is known as the African Land Surface’ from Baviaans geology.
|Cotyledon velutina (thanks to Kumbula Nursery for the plant ID)|
with a Noorsveld succulent
|Proteas in Baviaanskloof|
Pincushion Leucospermum cuneiforme and a pink Leucadendron
‘The Baviaanskloof Subtropical Thicket Restoration Pilot Project. Planting spekboom/Portulacaria cuttings in a wide variety of degraded thicket types and across a climatic gradient. Environmental factors affecting spekboom survival are investigated by:
Fencing some sites to exclude herbivores
Planting spekboom at different densities, or different sized cuttings
Burning fossil fuels across the planet appears to be linked to global warming. All signatories to the Kyoto Protocol have agreed to reduce greenhouse gases. Developing countries can sell sequestered carbon (removed from the atmosphere and stored in plants)
Spekboom grows rapidly and sequesters large amounts of carbon dioxide in the process. This pilot project aims to establish how much carbon can be sequestered by restoring degraded thicket, using cost effective methods, but also ensuring that biodiversity returns to this landscape.’
Text from the signboard. BGIS SANBI Subtropical Thicket Ecosystem Project
We work to reduce our own carbon footprint by planting spekboom cuttings wherever our garden offers gaps.
|Baviaans Subtropical Thicket Restoration Project|
The First World's Carbon Credits in action
To the left of the solar-powered electric fence, enclosed against browsing herbivores
Baviaanskloof is named for the baboons.
|Baboons of Baviaanskloof|
Bottom left Grasnek Mountain Pass
Hope we return here one day. The Willow Historical Guest House. Built as the Victorian home of the Dutch Reformed minister. We dined, alone, in the original dining-room. Accommodation for guests is newly built, but using architectural salvage doors and windows. So we got both the charm and the comfort!
Willowmore is the western end of Baviaanskloof.
And so we reach Hunting-for-lions-in-the-Karoo-National-Park.
Pictures by Jurg and Diana Studer
of Elephant's Eye on False Bay
(If you mouse over teal blue text, it turns seaweed red.
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