Friends of Rietvlei
Member of the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa Western Cape Region
Newsletter November 2012
Thursday, 22 November 2012: Friends of Rietvlei End-of-Year Function.
All are welcome to join us at the Rietvlei Education Centre at 19h30 for 20h00 for our annual year-end function. The students from both Rietvlei and Blaauwberg Nature Reserve will be presenting to us their final reports on the projects they have done this year. This will also be a “bring and share” evening so please bring a plate of snacks to share with everyone. Drinks will be available for a small donation.
Please contact Pauline on 0832552537 or Pat on 0837014318 if you have queries.
Join us for a beautiful walk and be rewarded with gorgeous views to celebrate a successful conservation year. Meet at the Morning Star entrance to Blouberg Hill at 17h30 on Saturday, 24 November 2012. Bookings are essential. 
Contact Friends of BCA Secretary Ena de Villiers on or 076 335 1225.
Dr Frank Wygold PhD. BSc.(Mech Eng) BSc.(Elec Eng)
Frank Wygold, long-time champion of the Paarden Island Wetlands, passed away peacefully at his home at the West Coast Field Studies Centre in Brooklyn on 1 October 2012. He was 81.
Frank, who had a doctorate in physics and degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering, had a life interest in natural history, extending back to his childhood in Britain. He started and headed the organisation, Bioprobe, which later became SERO (Scientific Environmental Research Organisation) in Britain during the 1960's. This organisation had mobile field research laboratories, staffed and run as self-contained units. Frank Wygold
Frank Wygold with his
favourite red tie
Frank became interested in the Paarden Eiland Wetlands in 1984, when he first visited and saw the potential to set up a field study centre as the site offers diverse habitats in a small area. Working under the auspices of the Friends of Paarden Eiland Wetlands and using the Paarden Eiland vlei as his open air classroom, Frank signed a lease with the provincial authorities in 2001 to convert an unused section of the Brooklyn Chest Hospital to run his projects – provided he repair the building at his own cost. He did so – at a cost of R82,000; and he provisioned the centre with microscopes and computers. He lived in his ‘cabin’ at the end of the lab.
He had been running environmental and science training for schoolchildren, particularly for pupils from the Cape Flats, at the West Coast Field Studies Centre since 2001. Since he began, more than 90,000 children have visited the centre. He won a Cape Times environment award in 2001 for his work and a medal of honour from the City of Cape Town in 2009 for his contribution to the community through his environment education of underprivileged schoolchildren and his entrepreneurship skills for semi-literate adults.
Frank also served on the committee of Friends of Rietvlei for several years. He assisted with co-ordinating educational activities at both Rietvlei and Zoarvlei.
Frank’s passion had always been education and job creation; and he believed that by teaching underprivileged children the wonders of the natural environment, they will be instilled with a value system that will see them through life.
Frank Wygold – you have left a lasting impression in our community, we will not forget your valuable contributions to environmental education in particular, and conservation in general.
You may have seen the new sign boards installed in various places throughout the nature reserve – in his quarterly report Area Manager Koos Retief reports that they installed 86 signs. These are standardised signs with “Table Bay Nature Reserve” as the main heading; the subheading is the name of the specific section – e.g. Rietvlei Section, Diep River Section, Coastal Section. Decals on the sign indicate the activities allowed and/or prohibited in that section.
Good news…. is that the new Rietvlei office at last has electricity. The staff have been working in the offices for several months, but without electricity so they had no telephone or network connections. The new telephone numbers will be available as soon as the installations are complete.
BEST NEWS is that TBNR was awarded the 2012 annual “BEST NATURE RESERVE” status by the City’s Biodiversity Management Branch. Congratulations to Koos and his team. WELL DONE!!
This winter the rainfall was higher than the average winter rainfall for the previous 12 years. This resulted in higher flow rates and water levels in the Diep River, causing quite a lot of water hyacinth to be washed down the river to the estuary and out to sea. The strong flows also brought down a lot of litter, most ending up in the lagoon and adjoining beaches. This will unfortunately remain a problem as long as there is a culture that littering is acceptable, a culture that regrettably prevails in some of our communities.
After it seemed as if winter would never end, we finally had a show of spring flowers – bright colours all over the place, and this is still continuing! There was a spring walk at the Milnerton Racecourse Section of the Table Bay Nature Reserve on 13 October. About 30 people enjoyed a lovely Saturday morning viewing the area that was burnt in March and seeing the unique flora that have appeared as a result of the fire. The group also walked in the southern section where one area was burnt 2 years ago and another 4 years ago.
A few weeks earlier the botanist who had originally surveyed the Milnerton Racecourse area, Dr Clive McDowell, again visited it after an absence of 8 years. He was impressed with the way this section was managed, and also discovered some plant species which he thinks may be unrecorded for the area, and possibly quite rare species. We are awaiting Dr McDowell’s report with interest
Thanks to a generous donation from Chevron, the Friends have had new information signs for Rietvlei designed. The signs will provide information on plants, animals, wetland system, values and recreation. These are now in the final stages of preparation, the English versions are complete and we are just waiting for the final Afrikaans and Xhosa versions to be checked. As soon as they are all ready, we will be able to print and install the signs in the information kiosks at Rietvlei. These new signs will be an updated replacement of signs that went up around Rietvlei in 1996. The old signs were also sponsored by Chevron (known as Caltex then) and Friends of Rietvlei.
Chevron has also provided us with funds to do some necessary renovation of our Environmental Education Centre. The roof sheets needs replacing, and we will also be replacing the steps with a ramp which will enable easier access for the physically disabled (and the elderly!) to the centre. At the same time the information kiosks will also be given some much needed repairs and varnishing.
Our indigenous garden at the bottom end of Grey Avenue is improving gradually under Gail McDonald’s keen attention. She needs assistance and is still looking for donations of suitable plants or snips, as well as any pair of hands keen to help her in the garden. She would also welcome watchful eyes keeping the area free of damage from dog-walkers and plant thieves!! Have you visited the labyrinth in the garden?
Contact Gail on 082 937 8759.
Environmental Education Centre – 021 521 9900
Emergencies and standby number -  071 268 9637
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