Protea plants, alien trees, Icy-cold water and Stoneflies!

Protea plants, alien trees, Icy-cold water and Stoneflies!
Published: 16 August 2017

To celebrate Mandela Day, we took a group of youngsters from Huis Andrew Murray, a Children’s Home and NGO in Wellington, for an outing to Olive Glen Mountain Farm. The young participants were very excited and eager to get going with the trip. We collected the group in the morning and took them to Olive Glen where we were met by Avril and Bruce Powrie, owners of Olive Glen Farm.

We began by giving the group a briefing on safety rules while hiking and also went through what kinds of animals we might come across whilst out hiking and what to do in these situations.

We started on up the trail and stopped at various points along the way to discuss topics such as alien invasive vegetation and why we need to eradicate these species. We discussed ants and termites and their homes, we also chatted about the elusive aardvark. We came across some porcupine scat, talked about this animal and how they defend themselves against predators such as the leopard.
We discussed leopard diet and told the group about the leopards in our mountains and what makes them different to the Savanna leopards. These participants were very surprised to hear that we have leopards in our mountains and that these beautiful creatures live in relatively close proximity to us.

The youngsters were very interested in what we were telling them and one participant named Brandon quite literally had an answer for every question we posed to the group and he also had about two questions for everything we mentioned. Seeing this kind of interest from our youth is amazing and we hope that this particular young boy and every other HAM child on our outing remember what they learnt that day. We always encourage our participants to tell their friends and family about what they have learnt on our outings and we hope that these children fulfil that request.

When we got down to the Wildepaardejacht river, the children were in the water before we could say “be careful, it is very cold, the water has come straight from the snow”. The Felixberg (right above from where we were standing) had been doused with snow just the day before and we could clearly feel this in the crisp, cold air and when we dared to feel the water. However, this did not deter the eager participants from exploring the river, jumping, splashing and getting into the water! I thought they had all gone crazy, it was freezing (I was shivering from just watching) but I stood and observed in amusement as they splashed each other and had the time of their lives in the icy water.

Along the path we found evidence of baboons having fed on various protea plants and we showed the children the different protea species such as the Waboom, Sugarbush protea, Protea nerifolia, and a few Leucadendron species. We also came across some Erica’s and we spotted a few sunbirds and sugarbirds making use of the beautiful sunny winter’s day.

We retired for lunch at the Riverhouse and enjoyed the warmth of the sun before setting out down to the river again, for a MiniSASS (South African Scoring System) survey. We briefed the group and got them into teams and tasked each team with searching the river to find river biota. We found a lot of different river invertebrates including a few Stoneflies and other Mayflies (high-scoring, sensitive-to- pollution river invertebrates) and determined that the river is in good, pristine condition, unaffected by humans and by various forms of pollution. The group really enjoyed this informative activity and it was a good way to end the day.

We would like to extend our thanks to Bruce and Avril Powrie for granting us access to their land and for their continued support of the Cape Leopard Trust. We would also like to thank Huis Andrew Murray for the continued partnership we have with them, we always enjoy working with the HAM children.

Till next time!

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