Thrive Eco-clubbers enjoy the Suikerbossie trail

Thrive Eco-clubbers enjoy the Suikerbossie trail
Published: 19 June 2017

On Friday 9 June 2017 Environmental Educator, Catherine Kühn, took the Thrive eco-clubbers to Suikerbossie hiking trail on Table Mountain National Park’s land.  The trail is on the border of Ruyteplaats estate and it overlooks Llandudno beach and the coastline – beautiful views and perfect for a quick afternoon walk.

Catherine began the session at the school by doing a short power-point presentation on the various behavioural and morphological adaptations both plants and animals have to be able to survive in nature. The children all listened very curiously. Quite a few of them had very quick and clever answers to the questions I posed to the group, proving that these children are quite clued up on conservation issues and biodiversity.

After the presentation they were all super-hyped up to walk this "new" trail. Catherine started off by talking about the alien trees that they could see, such as the Pines, Gum trees and Port Jacksons, and what negative impacts these species have on the natural fynbos. After walking for a little while, the group emerged out of the alien stands into pristine fynbos. SANParks has been doing a fantastic job of clearing this area of aliens.

They strolled along the path, taking in the beautiful views, passing some Sugarbush proteas, Erica's, Leucadendrons and Metalasia species. They managed to get quite far before the rains started spitting on them, but this did not dampen the spirits of the very excitable group. They came across a Cliffortia plant and each child got to feel the very spikey leaves. Catherine spoke about how this plant's spikey leaves actually deter browsing herbivores, and that this is one of its adaptations to surviving in nature.

She discussed other topics related to plant and animal survival, including how the Caracal (Rooikat) has adapted to living in a very urbanized environment, and in such close proximity to humans. The Caracal is an amazing and beautifully designed creature, with many adaptations. To name a few - they possess amazing agility, speed, excellent night vision and excellent hearing. Their brownish-orange colour also helps them to blend into their surrounding and enables them to stay unseen as well as their behavioural adaptation of being nocturnal (mainly active at night time).

Some of the participants were amazed and perhaps shocked to hear that the Caracals are living in and around Table Mountain and that they come so close to the developments and houses. However, these are the truths, nature has had to adapt to a constantly changing environment, and adapting to living in close proximity to humans is just one of these struggles the plants and animals face.

We must not forget that we can do our part by continuing to appreciate and care for our fauna and flora. It is important that we continue to strive to protect our biodiversity and most importantly, tell others to do the same.

Thank you to Jemimah Birch from Kronendal School, and Thrive for the work they are doing with the children of Hout Bay. Thank you to Nick Shaw (Manager of Ruyteplaats Estate), for being willing to assist us and for your interest in our education programme.

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