Our next meeting of the year takes place in April
and we would like to see old and new members, as
well as any interested visitors joining us on ....
Date: Thursday 7th April 2005
Time: 7.30 p.m. for 8p.m.
Venue: Rietvlei Education Centre, behind MAC Clubhouse, off
Speaker: Koos Retief & Rietvlei staff
Topic: 'What's happening in and around Rietvlei'
Enquiries: Pauline 557 6920 a/h or 4644748 o/h
The staff and students are very busy conserving Rietvlei and
this will be an opportunity to find out what exciting
projects are on the go.
Annual General Meeting
Please diarise Thursday 5
May 2005 for this very important event in the calendar of
Rietvlei. An interesting speaker on lighthouses will be our
guest. Milnerton Lighthouse lies on our boundary so this a
pertinent topic. The AGM is also the time of hearing what
has been done over the last year and setting up an effective
committee for the next year.
From chilli powder to
prickly pear…. Louis Raubenheimer writes…
I read recently in the newspaper a report into the illegal
use of Sudan Red, a dye which causes cancer, in various
foodstuffs. It so happens that Sudan Red is well known to
alien clearers, since it is used with diesel-soluble
herbicides. It allows one to see which cut stumps have been
treated with herbicide. Lately we have stopped using
diesel-dissolved herbicides because diesel is not
environment-friendly, and does not evaporate or decompose.
It stays in the soil and makes it infertile. We nowadays use
water-soluble herbicides with appropriate dyes.
What is interesting is that in both America and Europe
eleven synthetic red food-colourings have been available, of
which ten have been outlawed in the USA and ten in Europe,
because they cause allergies or even cancer. Unfortunately
the one allowed in the US and the one in Europe are not the
same, so no red foodstuffs can be exported from one area to
The only universally allowed red food colouring is a natural
one made from cochineal, an insect which lives off prickly
pear plants. The cochineal looks like a fat blood-sucking
tick. It is filled with a red liquid which makes an edible
dye. A cochineal species is currently being used with great
effect to combat an invasion of a specific species of
prickly pear in the Western Cape. This prickly pear is found
in Rietvlei, in the BCA, in Table Mountain National Park,
and along the coast all the way to the Transkei. Because the
cochineal does not like wet weather, its effectiveness is
much greater in and around Cape Town than along the Garden
Route. It gets washed off when it rains, so because we have
not had much rain over the last few years, the cochineal is
thriving here. So the drought has had at least one benefit!
The introduction of the cochineal has been due to the
Friends of Rietvlei and Nature Conservator Koos Retief who
realized that continued spraying of prickly pears with
highly toxic herbicides was neither desirable nor effective.
The knowledge so gained is now available to anyone who has
the same problem.
By joining the Friends of Rietvlei or the Friends of BCA,
people can get involved in nature conservation and learn
more about the environment. For further information contact
Louis Raubenheimer at 021-554 2221 or Koos Retief at 021-550
Rainfall.. or the lack of it
As you all know, the City of Cape Town is suffering a
shortage of water and restrictions on its use are now in
full effect. So far this year the following rain has been
recorded at Rietvlei: Jan 2005 16mm, February 4mm. A couple
of residents of Famingo Vlei have also been watching the
central pan anxiously as it dries up. As per the
recommendations of the CSIR study undertaken in 2001, the
Rietvlei staff have been keeping a watch on the water and
moisture levels of the central pan. On 25 February, although
NO dust had been blowing off the pan the pump and pipes were
deployed. On the 28 February the pumping began and at that
stage the pan was 20% wet. To date, water has been pumped
onto the pan for 16 days. During this period there have not
been any exceptionally windy days and no dust storms have
occurred. As we move into autumn it is hoped that the
reduction of wind, increase in dew and hopefully some rain
will keep the pan damp.
Gentle Cuddles turns Killer…
Report from Rietvlei - It has been noticed by the
conservators that the frequency of feral cats in the reserve
has suddenly increased dramatically.
The reserve is visited early in the mornings, to switch on
the water pump that is being used to control the dust
problem on the pans. Recently four cats were spotted in the
reserve. Feral cats pose a big threat to the wildlife of our
reserve, the reason being that even the most placid of cats
can suddenly turn into a killing machine when it gets to the
veld and instinct starts to take over. Many will argue that
cats will only catch mice and sometimes a dove or two, but
unfortunately this is not always the case. A hunting cat
will virtually catch anything edible within its reach,
ranging from insects-like locusts- to baby hares. Not even
snakes are excluded. If cats were able to identify exotic or
alien species, and to prey only on them, then the problem
would be a lot less severe, but unfortunately a large
percentage of their diet includes indigenous and even
According to law feral animals are not permitted to be in
reserves, and we thus urge The Friends that live in the
close vicinity of Rietvlei to please place collars with
bells on their cats, as this warns prey animals of the
presence of a predator , thus allowing adequate time to
escape. Should you spot stray cats in the reserve please
alert the nature conservators on 550 1086 or 5507564. THANKS
FOR YOUR HELP!
Milnerton Racecourse/Royal Ascot update
For residents of Table and View and Milnerton who have lived
in the area for 5 - 10 years you will be aware of the
changes that have taken place to the old Milnerton
horse-racing track, grandstands and stables. This area is
now called Royal Ascot and consists of housing, a shopping
centre and a garden centre. However, due to efforts of
Friends of Rietvlei and other conservation bodies, the
approving authorities required that two portions of the
inside track area be conserved. The northern conservation
area is now accessible to the general public by way of a
path from the traffic circle adjacent to Sandown Crescent
complex. The path takes a meander around the area and siting
of interesting plants and birds is possible. Kirsten Louw
does a regular check of the area and some of his latest new
sitings are Spurwing Goose, Vivid Blue butterfly, Long
Skimmer dragonfly. Plants flowering are Haemanthus
pubescens, Athanasia dentata, Geranium incanum, Pelargonium
capitatum, and many others. If you visit the area please
STAY ON THE PATH, NO DOGS ALLOWED, NO LITTERING , but ENJOY
From the Chairman..
We gave input for the EIA process of the Duikersvlei Stream
(old Kynoch factory site in Montague Gardens), regarding the
prevention of groundwater contamination and the proposed
realignment of the stream on the site with the new
industrial development in mind.
Our main concern is the water quality that this stream
produces, and how to ensure that the system stays natural.
We support the alternative that re-aligns the stream along
the southern boundary before linking to the existing
drainage structure underneath Koeberg Road before
discharging into the canal. The stream should have a natural
appearance with wider/narrower & shallow/deeper areas to
promote polishing of the storm water. This new alignment
will bypass the existing polluted area and stop the area
from further contamination of ground water.
|This newsletter comes to you with the kind
assistance of Caltex.