Friends of Rietvlei
Member of the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa Western Cape Region
Newsletter January/February 2009
We are well into a new calendar year and only a month away from the end of our financial year. Our AGM will be on Thursday 7 May 2009 at 20h00 in the Rietvlei Education Centre. Please diarise this date now. More details about the meeting in our next newsletter.
World Wetlands Day – 2 February 2009
The theme this year is “Upstream, Downstream, wetlands connect us all”.
Wetlands (rivers, lakes, marshes and floodplains) capture, store and transport and purify water. Water that leaves a wetland is always cleaner than the water which enters it. Wetlands also help to prevent flooding disasters and they create a home for a rich diversity of animals and plants. Wetlands play a vital role in the water cycle, they are our “water connectors” which keep us supplied with water, so it is very important to look after and protect them.
All over the world wetlands are fading quickly. They are the most endangered ecosystems on our planet. We have to preserve wetlands. People around the world are relying on wetlands for their spiritual, cultural and economic well-being. A special international treaty, The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, has been established by governments to try to preserve wetlands worldwide.
Our local wetland is Rietvlei Wetland Reserve. Rietvlei contains a wide diversity of habitats where a large variety of bird species can be found. With the gradual removal of alien vegetation, Strandveld flora is flourishing. This area is so ecologically valuable it must be preserved at all costs.
There are many threats to the Rietvlei Wetland Reserve. These include runoff from agricultural areas, which could contain harmful chemicals found in fertilisers, factory spillages and waste water, contaminated storm water from urban areas, informal settlements, which can be the cause of poorly treated sewerage and littering, urban developments which disturb the habitats of many animals, fires, alien plants which are very invasive. Because wetlands are all connected, human activities, good or bad, that occur upstream of the river will also affect the downstream areas.
Walks & Talks
Our end of the year function on 20 November 2008 was well-attended. The students reported on their various projects they had done on Rietvlei and at the BCA; there was also a presentation by Koos Retief on the Milnerton Conservation Area.
Then, on the following Sunday afternoon we had a walk in the Milnerton Conservation Area. There were about 30 people present, and we were accompanied by Koos Retief and Jeremy Keyser, the Environmental Conservation Manager for the area. It was a pleasant and extremely interesting outing, the pictures can be seen on our website and on the Royal Ascot website (
NEXT EVENING TALK: This will be held on Thursday 26 February at the Rietvlei Education Centre, off Grey and Sandpiper Roads, Table View, at 7.30 for 8.00pm. Our guest speaker will be Simon Lielcock who has spent many weekends exploring rock art along the West Coast & Cedarber with fellow experts. His talk on Rock Art should be most interesting. Invite anyone interested and please join us for an update on Rietvlei’s happenings and the talk by Simon.
NEXT WALK : We will meet on Sunday 8 March at 3pm to walk around Zoarvlei (Paarden Eiland wetlands) Please meet at the vlei end of Milner Road in Metro Industrial Area. Turn off Marine Drive at the traffic lights near the Boot Sale site. Phone Pat on 021 5573748 or Nelis on 082 777 5708 if you need further details.
Arrivals and Departures
Two new students have started their practical study year at Rietvlei Wetland Reserve. They are Cleo Schroeder, who is in her 3rd year of Fish Resource Management, and Noxolo Sidzumo who is in her third year of nature conservation. Both are studying at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Cleo had an unfortunate accident whilst fighting a fire in the area, and burnt her ankle when she stepped into a mole hole. We wish her a speedy recovery!
Sandiso Kraai, our very enthusiastic conservator managing the Diep River corridor has also left and it with some sadness that we had to say farewell to him. Sandiso was appointed to the job nearly two years after the Friends had obtained funding from the Table Mountain Fund for the position for a period of two years. Over the last two years Sandiso had made tremendous progress in improving the condition of the Diep River Corridor – most of the alien vegetation in the area has been cleared, huge amounts of rubble has been removed, and the problem with quad bikes and off-road vehicles has largely been solved. Most important, Sandiso managed to raise an awareness of conservation importance of the area in the local communities, many of whom cross the corridor daily on their to and from work.
Sad as we are at losing Sandiso, we are also proud of his achievement in obtaining a scholarship to Stellenbosch University to study for a degree course in Community Development in the Agriculture Faculty. His studies start this month and we wish Sandiso Kraai every success.
The committee of Friends of Rietvlei is now in discussion with TMF and the City of Cape Town to find a new arrangement to fund a conservator to work in the Diep River corridor for a year. It is hoped that these arrangements will be completed shortly and that an advert will go out for the post. It is most important that the work that Sandiso started continues.
The final public meeting for the Diep River Estuary Management Plan was held in the Blaauwberg Council Chamber on 8 December. Dr Lynne Jackson presented the proposals of the three working groups that had been established as reported in our previous newsletter.
The way forward is that the final report is presented to the Blaauwberg Subcouncil of the City of Cape Town (on 19 Feb 2009) as a formal management proposal for the Diep River Estuary. If the plan is implemented as proposed, we should see an improvement in water quality in the estuary, not immediately but over time, as well as the amelioration of the dust problem on the central pan during the late summer months. One of the important proposals is that the Rietvlei Management Working Group, on which the Friends is also represented, will be officially responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Estuary Management Plan. To mark the commencement of the implementation phase of the Diep River EMP the C.A.P.E. Estuaries Programme recently advertised a call for proposals from consultants to tender for the implementation of the EMP. We look forward to this further appointment.
Rietvlei Visitor Facility Upgrading
The upgrading of the visitor facilities at Rietvlei was delayed when the procurement procedures of the Municipality took longer than was anticipated. However, our reserve manager Koos Retief assures us that materials have now been procured and the various items are being manufactured. Installation should thus be in the near future. Apart from benches and braai facilities, work will also start on the construction of the boardwalk to the new bird hide. It has been frustrating to see the new bird hide but not to be able to access it!! Once the boardwalk is in place we will arrange a walk to “open” it!!
Rainfall at Rietvlei
The monthly rainfall figures for Rietvlei from 2002 to 2008 are as follows:
  2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
January 57.9 3.5 8.0 16.0 1.0 1.5 4.0
February 10.0 6.0 0.9 4.0 7.0 19.5 6.0
March 10.1 32.2 7.0 14.5 4.0 15.0 4.0
April 29.9 10.9 79.5 69.5 27.2 45.5 10.0
May 38.6 22.2 2.3 54.1 104.0 42.5 44.0
June 62.8 13.1 66.8 83.3 25.5 127.7 67.0
July 69.5 27.3 65.8 38.0 64.2 96.0 116.0
August 66.9 81.1 45.5 74.0 45.0 86.0 68.5
September 19.5 53.8 17.8 30.0 12.0 34.0 4.0
October 33.7 25.3 119.0 9.8 20.5 22.0 2.0
November 13.2 2.8 3.0 9.8 31.0 30.0 46.0
December 20.1 15.5 6.5 0.0 4.5 22.0 19.0
Total: 432.2 303.7 421.9 402.9 341.4 541.7 390.5
Thanks go to Chevron Refinery for sponsoring envelopes for the posted newsletter.
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