RiverWise 

Issue 28 ~ November 2020

The monthly newsletter of the Lower Breede River Conservancy Trust

How your membership

can help the Breede

All estuaries in South Africa are under severe pressure resulting from over-exploitation of natural resources, habitat destruction and deterioration of water quality.


If you take an active interest in, or use, the Breede River Estuary we hope that we can persuade you to become a member of the LBRCT and to support our endeavours on your behalf by way of your contribution to these efforts.


The authorities who are ultimately responsible for ensuring protection of our valuable natural resources are contributing, however, they simply cannot afford to allocate sufficient of their available funds to meet the estuary’s conservation needs.


Your membership contribution supplements the funds obtained from the licence fees paid by users of boats; the municipalities by way of supplementary grants constrained by their many other social upliftment and development imperatives, and grants from those government agencies to whom we are contracted.


There are 62 estuaries in the Western Cape and all need support. The Breede is one of the two largest and most important and we all need to play a role in preserving it. 100% of your membership subscriptions are put to the best possible use to help maintain the conservation infrastructure that has taken many years to put in place and initiate new projects such as:


• Turtle and penguin rescue transport

• Environmental education programmes

• Holiday activity programmes

• Funding conservation interns

• Printing brochures, pamphlets, posters and information packs

• Producing and erecting signage

• Materials and equipment for monitoring projects


For R 100 a year, you can assist us with all of the above and add your voice that is so important to ensure that your opinions and concerns are heard. The LBRCT can speak more authoritatively when dealing with the vast number of threats, regulations and legislation that already affect the estuary with the backing of a sizeable member base.


Please think about the future of the estuary and the importance of maintaining its good health for you and your children’s benefit through supporting our effort.

Yes, I want to support the Breede…

Have you renewed your

boat licence yet?

Annual Municipal Boat licences are due for renewal every year from 1 July and valid until 30 June the following year.

Just a reminder of our outlets available for boat licence sales for 2020/2021


MALGAS OUTLET:

Living the Breede

Phone: 067 162 9081 or 082 324 2757

Open: Mon-Fri from 08h00 – 17h00

Sat 08h00 to 13h00 and Sun Closed


RIVERINE OUTLET:

Breede Riverine Estate

Phone: 028 542 1345

Open: 09h00 – 17h00


WITSAND OUTLETS:

Lower Breede River Conservancy Office

Phone: 028 537 1296

Open: Mon-Fri from 08h00 – 16h00


Sands Supermarket

Phone: 028 537 1800


Nella’s se Winkel

Phone: 028 537 1304

SWELLENDAM OUTLET:

Heyneman Yamaha

Phone: 028 514 2010

Open: 8h00 – 17h00

Infanta Inflatables

Phone: 028 514 1589 / 072 672 8900

Open: Mon to Thu 08h00 to 17h30

Fri 08h00 to 16h00

Sat and Sun – closed


ONLINE LICENCES:

Buy your boat licence online and arrange to pick up your disk at Living the Breede (Malgas) or LBRCT office (Witsand)

https://breede-river.org/licences/


Contact our office if you have any questions regarding the boat licences – 028 537 1296 / info@breede-river.com


What we have been up to

In this issue

This issue covers our activities for November 2020. We start off with the highlights of what we have been up during the month. Our Holiday program for December and a interesting article on Renosterveld in our area. We end off with a summary of our bird count (for Birding Big Day 2020).

Assisting with DEA&DP water monitoring

Our rangers assisted DEA&DP with their monthly water sampling visit where they record enviromental parameters and E-coli levels at 10 sites along the Breede River Estuary. We are glad to be involved in this project to help monitor the health of the estuary.

Assisting Stellenbosch University students

Our rangers assited two groups of students from Stellenbosch University collecting Zostera capensis (Cape Eelgrass) samples for their research during the month.

Feedback on Turtle #21

On the 17th of March, a small Loggerhead Turtle hatchling was rescued and brought to the LBRCT office. This little guy was cleaned up and monitored until we could get him to Two Oceans Aquarium. He checked in weighing only 54.75g. We are happy to report that 8 months later he is at 854g and doing well.

Green Turtle Rescue

On Friday the 13th, a Green Turtle was found near Moodiese Put along the Witsand beach. Thank you to Kim Osmond from HAT – Helping Animals Together that reported this and assisted. The turtle was collected on the beach and prepared for her trip to Two Oceans Aquarium. Thank you to Stephanie Grobler that took her through to Heidelberg where she was picked up for transport. She was named Kuthula, meaning Peace (in Zulu) by her rescuers. Unfortunitly on the 4th of December we recieved the news that Kuthula past away.

Monthly bird count

Due to some windy weather conditions our rangers and conservator could not complete an entire bird count at all the sites this month. We however could use the data to contribute to the Big Birding Day 2020 that took place at the same time.

Malgas Pont and slipway update

Closure of Malgas Pont – 20 November to 4 December 2020

The Malgas Pontoon/Ferry was closed for two weeks to undergoing safety modifications. This was done to safeguard the public using the pontoon as well as boat owners with passengers on the river. At the same time there was work done to repair the slipway for the upcomming season.

The last update recieved on the 4th of December was that the Pont might be closed for another two weeks as the operators are waiting for a part. They have installed the cable and the buoys over the river – so please approach with caution.

We will keep our social media pages updated with any news on when the Pont is operational and open to the public.

Littering still a big concern

Our rangers did footpatrols along the river during November and the littering is still a big concern.

Follow us on your favourite social media platform to see what we are up to daily!

The December holidays are here. This year we had to cut down on the number of events due to Covid-19 and keeping everyone’s safety in mind. We have three activities planned:


Colouring competition from the 15th of December to the 15th of January 2021.

Colouring pictures can be obtained and handed in at the following locations along the Breede River.


Infanta

Bent Head

Malgas

Trading Post

Malgas Hotel

The Boathouse

Sijnn Wines

Nuwedorp

Bushpub

Witsand

PiliPili Restaurant

The Anchorage Restaurant

Riverbreeze Restuarant


Prizes will be posted to the winners after the school holiday. 

Lets have some fun!!


Evening rock pool exploration- 27th December 2020 20H30 at Witsand – Blokke

Come and join us for an exploration of the weird and wonderful creatures that live in our rockpools with Xavier, Two Oceans Aquarium Educator, and LBRCT staff. Bring a torch along for incase it gets dark. This is all weather permitting and face masks will be compulsory.


Beach Clean-up – 2 January 2021 09h00 – Infanta Beach and Witsand Main Beach

We want to start the year of with something positive and why not a beach clean-up after all the festivities.

We will provide the refuse bags and gloves

We ask the public to please bring along:

• A face mask which covers both your nose and mouth

• Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat

• Water and possibly something to eat if necessary

• And anything else that will make your morning picking up trash more comfortable


Bring your family and join us!

Renosterveld

This month we are going to learn a little bit about Renosterveld

What is renosterveld?

Renosterveld is part of the diverse and species rich Fynbos Biome. It is dominated by grasses and shrubs, particularly those of the Daisy Family (Asteraceae). A particularly dominant member of the Daisy Family is Rensosterbos (Dicerothamnus rhinocerotis). Geophytes (bulbs) are also incredibly diverse in the renosterveld (Curtis-Scott et al. 2020). Typical fynbos species such as proteas, ericas and restios are largely absent or in low numbers in this vegetation type (Jacobs and Jangle 2008).

Renosterveld’s ecological importance and functioning is poorly understood (Curtis-Scott et al.2020).


Renosterveld is mainly found in fine-grained soils (clays and silts) with rainfall between 250-600mm with at least 30% falling in the winter months. Renosterveld appears dull for most of the year, but it is characterised by high species diversity and unique plant species. There are two main flowering seasons for renosterveld are: autumn and late winter/early spring (Curtis-Scott et al. 2020).Renosterveld is pollinated by a variety of organisms from Bee Flies, butterflies, birds and mice to Elephant shrews/Sengis.


How did Renosterveld get its name?

It is thought that it is named after the Black Rhino that was once roamed this vegetation type. Renosterbos has a similar colour to the

hide of the Black Rhino.


What types of Renosterveld are there?

There are currently 23 recognised renosterveld vegetation types, with lowland renosterveld more diverse. The area between Bredasdorp and Heidelberg has two renosterveld types: Eastern Rȗens Shale Renosterveld and Rȗens Silcrete Renosterveld. Along the banks of the Breede River there are fragmented patches of the Silcrete Renosterveld (Curtis-Scott et al. 2020).

The Eastern Rȗens Renosterveld is characterized by quartz and silcrete caps on hills. Succulent diversity is varied in this renosterveld type (Jacobs and Jangle 2008) with dense stands of bitter Aloe (Aloe ferox). Stands of Sweet Thorn/Soet Doering (Vachellia karroo) are also found (Jacobs and Jangle 2008). Dense vegetation that is characteristic of the Karoo is also common (Curtis-Scott et al. 2020). Renosterbos dominates the shrubland (Jacobs and Jangle 2008). Only 14% of this vegetation type remains and less than 1% of the of the original area is protected. There are 13 species that are endemic to this veld type and found nowhere else (Curtis 2013).


The silcrete renosterveld is more of an open small leaved grassy shrubland with patches of moderately tall shrubland with renosterbos. This unique habitat contains species that are endemic or near-endemic on silcrete areas. Several vygie species that are endangered to critically endangered are found here. The veld type is also well represented with grass species (Jacobs and Jangle 2008, Curtis-Scott et al. 2020). If it occurs on drainage areas, it is easily recognisable by large round river rocks that cover the surface. The Rȗens Silcrete Renosterveld shows similar values for the area remaining (14%) and how much of it is protected (<1%) as the Eastern Rȗens Renosterveld. The number of endemic species for this veld type is 15 (Curtis 2013).


Why is it in trouble?

Overlooked and neglected due to its dull appearance. Renosterveld grows in relatively fertile soil over 95% has been transformed, primarily into farming land for agriculture and livestock (Jacobs and Jangle 2008). The remaining 5%, is usually confined to areas between cultivated land. The remaining populations are still threatened by agricultural chemicals and damaged by machinery.. All 4 of the Rȗens vegetation types that occur in the Overberg region are listed as critically endangered (Curtis-Scott et al. 2020).


What makes its special?Globally, it is one of the most diverse winter-rainfall ecosystems as well as being the richest bulb habitat on earth. Unfortunately, thisbiodiversity hotspot is hovering on the verge of extinction.


Historically the renosterveld supported a diverse number of large mammals. These included: Black Rhino, African Buffalo, hippo, Bontebok, Bluebuck, Duiker, Steenbok, Quagga, Aardwolf, and Aardvark. There were also a host of predators in the renosterveld such as Lion, Wild Dog, Leopard and Hyena. The Bluebuck and Quagga have since become extinct and were only found in the Fynbos Biome. Local populations of Black Rhino, Hippo and African Buffalo no longer occur in the area (Jacobs and Jangle 2008, Curtis-Scott et al. 2020).


The remnant patches of renosterveld seen today are still utilised by a large variety of species who are reliant on this vegetation type. Black Harriers require mature stands of renosterveld for building their nests. Cape Grysbok rely on renosterveld for predator avoidance and foraging. Southern Black Korhaan is dependent on this vegetation type for foraging and breeding. The geometric tortoise is only found in renosterveld in the southwestern Cape and is listed as Critically endangered. Even birds that are considered common such the Cape Spurfowl are dependent on renosterveld for foraging and breeding. These small patches that remain are still important to many species, and some that would go extinct without renosterveld (Curtis-Scott et al. 2020).

Want to visit the largest and most continuous patch of lowland renosterveld on Earth?

Take a trip to the Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve which protects over 500ha of Eastern Rȗens Shale Renosterveld. This reserve is close to De Hoop Nature Reserve and is approximately an hour drive from the Malgas Pont.

Follow the link for more information.

Want to learn more about renosterveld?

The Field Guide to Renosterveld of the Overberg is an excellent field guide about the renosterveld of the region.

Follow the link for more information.

Sources:

Jacobs K and Jangle R. 2008. Renosterveld Ecosystem Management Plan: Western Cape.

Unpublished. The Nature ConservationCorporation, Cape Town.

Curtis OE. 2013. Management of Critically Endangered renosterveld fragments in the Overberg. PhD Thesis. University of Cape Town.

Curtis-Scott O, Goulding M, Helme N, McMaster R, Privett S, Stirton C. 2020. Field Guide to Renosterveld of the Overberg. 488pp. StruikNature, Cape Town.


http://pza.sanbi.org/vegetation/fynbosbiome

http://planet.botany.uwc.ac.za/nisl/bdc321/ekapa%20cape%20towns%20lowlands/module2/renosterveld.htm

In the data

Monthly routine monitoring

November bird count

Due to winds in excess of 45km/h an hour, November’s waterbird count was curtailed and 15km of the Breede River Estuary was surveyed. A variety of species were seen (27 species) which included nearly 500 birds. The five most abundant species accounted for 63.9% of all birds seen.

These were: Common-ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Whimbrel, Common Greenshank and Pied Avocet.  Four of these species are non-breeding Palearctic summer migrants that are common in South Africa during the spring and summer months. The relatively large group of Pied Avocets (24 birds) is unusual and this species is only occasionally seen along the Breede River Estuary. This species is a southern African resident and is a local nomad and moves between estuaries, vleis, saltpans and temporary pools along the coast and inland in search of food.

Good numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits (10 birds) and Terek sandpipers (4 birds) were seen. During summer we only usually encounter 2-4 Bar-tail Godwits during a particular survey. Terek sandpipers are an uncommon summer migrant in South Africa and are always a treat to see on our surveys.

Thank you for reading

We hope you enjoyed this months’ issue. Should you have any feedback, questions, or matters you would like us to cover in a future issue, please do not hesitate to write to us at news@breede-river.org. 

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