Showing posts from 2018


The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region (K2C) partnering with AWARD have recently embarked on a project that will make a big difference to the Blyde catchment and downstream communities. The project comprises of 1 Intermediate team of 8 passionate individuals, the team is different from the other Working for Ecosystem teams because of the High elevation areas they are working in. They are based at the magnificent Mountains of Mariepskop and are dedicated to make a difference to the environment by rehabilitating the forest back to its natural state. The project supports current efforts on invasive alien plant (IAP) control and Ecosystem restoration in the larger Blyde area, as well as capacity development of local landowner and community members in terms of awareness and trainings. The vision of this project is to create “A healthy upper Blyde, Sand and Klaserie Catchment, in which degraded areas have been restored and are maintained thus sustaining biodiversity and the critical ecosyst…

What and where is the Watt Road? Nick Theron

On the 6th of December 2018 the K2C with partners led a trip with the four Blyde Communal Property Associations (CPAs) on a site visit to the Watt road. You may ask what is the big deal with the Watt road? The road is the proposed new boundary for the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve and would expand the reserve by 16 000 ha to include important habitat along the eastern facing slopes of the escarpment. The road travels in a north south direction along the base of the mountain. We were joined by the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA), the Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD) and Ryan Connolly from Chopped. 
The four Blyde CPAs are land claimants and the area is in the process of being settled to them. A part of this process the CPAs have made a decision that they want to expand the reserve to include the additional portions which is a major commitment to conserving a crucial catchment area that we all re…

Responsible Tourism is THE Game Plan in our Landscape – Marie-Tinka Uys

Representatives of the Protected Areas in the Greater Kruger area and their prime tourism destination product owners attended a Workshop on the development of the Greater Kruger Responsible Tourism Toolkit, which will be linked to the Cooperative Agreement which will be signed by private reserves, provincial authorities and the Kruger National Park next week. The Workshop was facilitated by Fair Trade in Tourism, who won the bid to complete the Toolkit. The Toolkit’s implementation will be monitored by Protected Area Managers to ensure maximum benefits. This development is sponsored by the Global Environmental Facility. Responsible tourism (RT) is a business management approach that enables tourism businesses, local people, nature and cultural heritage to thrive.   Mr Glenn Phillips, Managing Executive of the Kruger National Parks, explained further: “The revised Kruger National Park Management Plan has as one of its key focus areas, the implementation of Responsible Tourism Standards …

Kukula Traditional Healers Meet New Natural Justice Director

On the 4thof December 2018 the Kukula Traditional Healers committee members convened at Frank Maginyana High school to meet with the new management of Natural Justice (NJ) Pooven Moodley. It was a much anticipated day as the team has experienced a lot of hardships this year with the passing of their CEO Rodney Sibuyi and the relocation of Director Cath Traynor who has been working with the Kukula for close to six years. Though It was not an easy transition the group is resilient and had to adapt to new situations. The New Director of NJ Pooven Moodley was excited to meet with the team for the first time, they gave him a warm welcome and everyone is looking forward to working together. This strong commitment was followed by discussions around the Bio-Cultural protocol, how it is useful to them, the challenges around it and how would they want to improve it.  The group also shared their long term aspiration with Pooven and the challenges that they come across as Traditional Healers. We a…

Effective and Informed Land Use Planning in our Landscapes! – Wehncke van der Merwe

At the end of October, the Kruger National Park held a Greater Kruger Land Use Planning Workshop in Skukuza. The workshop was guided through the Integrated Land Use Approach highlighted in KNP’s new Management Plan (2018-2028). The aim was to get the major land use planning role players around Kruger in one room in order to have a robust discussion on how we can enable land use practices in the Greater Kruger that will not compromise the ecological integrity of the area whilst also insuring that socio-economic development takes place, especially focussed on the most vulnerable communities. Over the two days 8 municipalities and 8 other organisations (including NGOs; Provincial and National Departments and a parastatal) attended. The discussions were highly informative and highlighted some key opportunities for close collaboration between SANParks and the entities that attended. The three key points raised during discussions were: Need for more collaborative action on ecologically susta…

African Youth Unite for Biodiversity! – Vusi Tshabalala

Since 1993, governments, policymakers, and expert organizations have negotiated strategic global agreements for the sustainable and equitable use of biodiversity, aiming to mitigate species loss and safeguard ecosystems. However, it was only at the 10th Conference of Parties to the Convention for Biological Diversity held in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan that youth took a seat at the table thanks to the formation of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network. Young people need a role in conservation As the officially recognized group for youth in the negotiations under the convention, the Global Youth Biodiversity Network is instrumental in sensitizing decision-makers on the value of youth-led activities for conservation. As of August 2018, the Global Youth Biodiversity Network represents 115 member organizations, a total of 342,000 members from 107 countries worldwide. Two years ago South Africa hosted the Global Youth Biodiversity Network conference which was officially opened and lead by the lat…

We deal proactively with our HIV/AID Challenge! – Thembi Marshall

K2C/SANParks BSP NRM teams celebrated World AIDS Day at Acorns-to-Oak’s school on 5 December 2018.
Seven K2C NRM projects participated at the event (Andover, Rehab, Bush clearing, Working for Water buffer, Parthenium, Mariepskop and Bushbuckridge) to celebrate World AIDS day. 
Frans Lesoka the Assistant Cluster Manager highlighted the purpose of World AIDS day celebration, “Which is raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease”. 
Lunghi Mathebula led the Hlokomela Team to facilitate the HIV/AIDS talk. Topics that were covered (HIV/ AIDS transmission, treatment and safe sex practice). Hlokomela team set up a tent for voluntary counselling and testing, participants had an opportunity to check their HIV status during the event. 
“This event is important for us to keep the awareness of this challenge alive,” Mr Magic Mabunda of Utha said. 
Branded squeeze bottles and drawstring bags were issued to participants …

BOTH Conservation and People are winners with this Agreement – Marie-Tinka Uys

Three years of hard work, consulting and thinking lead to a Multi-Partner Agreement for bigger and better-managed total conservation area embedded in our Landscape. This hard work, under the leaderships of SANParks, has been supported by the Global Environmental Facility’s Protected Area Programme. This agreement, that focus on the western boundary of the KNP, follows the establishment of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) in December 2002, when the three heads of state of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe signed a treaty that made provision for the expansion of the GLTP by integrating the Limpopo National Park (LNP), KNP and Gonarezhou National Park (GNP). The signing ceremony took place in Skukuza on 5 December 2018. CEO of SANParks, Fundisile Mketeni said that the agreement seeks to address conservation matters and make the most of opportunities within the open system of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) and surrounding conservation areas. “The partnership is …


On the 7thof December 2018, the K2C Environmental Monitors (EMs) gathered at Kgerekgere Lodge for their annual EM day celebration. The theme of the day was “Celebrating EMs in their uniqueness” and the mood of the day was vibrant and youthful. Our partners from Mopani District and Maruleng Municipality, SANParks BSP and LEDET honoured this event with their presence, giving words of support to the EMs and recognising the impact that the EM program, which is funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs, has had in the landscape.  The event had components of a prize giving ceremony where excelling EMs were recognized for their work during the year. The categories included acknowledgement of the most hard working EM per Group, most knowledgeable EMs, and the pot plant of the group (the one who keeps the group together). Our Data Capturer also facilitated Awards related to the performance on data submission under the following categories: Best quantitative data, qualitative data and t…

Our Landscape’s story of hope on 50/50!

Conservation South Africa (CSA)’s Mike Grover, in collaboration with Bertus Louw told an authentic story about our landscape in a documentary which was aired on SABC’s 50/50 programme on 9 September 2018. The story, called “Healing through Herding “, takes a landscape lens and contemplates how, historically, the migration of herbivores in the landscape from the drier savannah to the escarpment areas during the dry season contributed to eco system health. These migrations were halted through the erection of fences on the western boundary of the Protected Area system. This impacted negatively on the vegetation and its productivity.  Through the eyes of Cliff, a K2C Herd Monitor from Dixie allocated to CSA, the ground-breaking work of CSA, as supported by the SANParks BSP bush thinning teams, were explained. This is a story of hope, where the reconciliation of three bottom lines of sustainability were told: The social, the ecological and the economic. The latter enabled through access to…

The K2C Nodal Centre is a Team

By Rachel Malemela and Karabo Chiloane K2C BR staff attended a team build outing to Bourke's Luck Potholes on 07 August 2018 as the guests of MTPA. All K2C projects, including GEF, EM and NRM participated in this fun day.  The K2C landscape has the most breath-taking features, including the Canyons, the Mariepskop Mountains and the freshwater systems leading us to choosing the theme of event. The theme of the day was to explore and learn more about Bourke's Luck Potholes in a fun-filled way.There were four groups that consisted of six people per team.Each group had an exercise where a questionnaire needed to be filled-in about the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. One of the questions was who was Bourke's Luck potholes named after. After the knowledge found on the Blyde river Canyon Nature Reserve, the K2C staff members visited the Leroro village for an African cuisine meal. The traditional food included the following, Samp, Mageu, Tribe, Chicken feet and Mopani worms. “It…

Celebrating Women’s Month

By MT Uys

On 9 August the Mnisi Tribal Authority invited the K2C Nodal Centre to participate in the Tribe’s Women’s’ Day celebrations. The Tribe honoured the role that women are playing in building a cohesive resilient society. Representatives of Balule’s Black mamba al women anti-poaching unit shared with the audience the importance of women being connected to the environment as custodians of the well-being of our people.

Working together to care for our communities and save the environment

By Vulani Mabiunda The Sefapane Fund’s EcoKidz Programme together with the TUI Care Foundation support 1 550 primary school learners from grades five, six and seven in villages around the Kruger National Park in South Africa.  These learners receive education on nature and conservation with the inputs of K2C EMs. In addition to school-based learning on nature and conservation, 400 children are selected to visit the Kruger National Park each year for a two-day adventure camp that the Sefopane Fund offer as part of the educational programme and 1000 learners going on day field trips. Despite living within a few miles of the park, these children`s families can rarely afford to visit the park. Many of them are now given the opportunity to see giraffes, rhinos, wildebeest and other animals. The learners learn about Africa’s flora and fauna and the importance of preserving and respecting the natural environment around their community. The project has gathered great support from the local co…

The K2C Challenge – Trail Running connecting People and Nature

By Lazaro Sibaya On 14 and 15 July, the K2C Team supported KZN Trail runners to host one of the most challenging events on the national Trail running event: The K2C Trail run.
On the first day, the runners ran from Franklin Park to Mariepskop and the second day in the Blue Canyon reserve at the foothills of the Escarpment. This annual event truly symbolises the links between the three biomes in Biosphere: the savannah, the grasslands and the Afro Montane forests and markets our landscape as a niche tourism destination.
Lazaro Sibaya, EM Programme was one of the runners that represented the K2C. “Running is my hobby. It gives me physical and mental strength. I started running with a dream to run the Comrades marathon. My dream became true when I ran my first comrades in 2017 which I finished in 11:42:44 time – big achievement for a Novice. I went on training hard to improve my qualifying time for better seeding. Shortly after joining K2C this year I went for my second comrades in June, w…

SANParks BSP teams are making a huge impact to combat the spread of Parthenium

By Priscilla Hlongwane Parthenium is a dreaded alien that grows luxuriantly on roadsides, playgrounds, agricultural areas and residential plots. Seeds are spread by animals, movement of vehicles, wind and water. Seeds can remain in the soil for many years and are capable of germinating anytime when there is moisture. Infestation is spreading at an alarming into the K2C Landscape.
The effects of Parthenium are: ·In human beings it causes: asthma, fever and burning and blisters around eyes. ·On crops: Parthenium acts as a collateral host for many diseases caused by viruses in crop plant. ·In animals (wildlife and livestock) it causes mouth ulcers which inhibits grazing The well-trained SANParks BSP teams is using a chemical method with the use of the herbicide glyphosate to eradicate this dreaded invasive. This method is very effective in controlling this weed because 15 days after spraying, it causes the complete eradication of Parthenium population.

Celebrating Mandela Day with the Mametja People in Maruleng

By Thembi Marshall The SANParks BSP K2C NRM Rehabilitation project celebrated Mandela day in Mabins village on the 18/07/2018. The teams collected 22 litter bags of waste surrounding Mabins village. This was to promote a clean and healthy environment in the village. Tresser Malepe and Sarah Nonyane (K2C EM’s) did an Environmental Waste Management awareness talk for the team to address environmental waste issues.  The K2C BR donated a 2 500L Jojo water tank that was donated to the Mametja Tribal Authority in the spirit celebration of Mandela day celebrations. The Mametja Chief received the Jojo tank on behalf of Mametja tribal authority. The donated tank will be used to store water for the Tribal office. 
“We value our partnership with SANParks BSP and the K2C.” Kgosi Mametja said.

Mariepskop Resource Study and Mapping

By Naki Mmposi and Nick Theron Mariepskop, adjacent to the Blyde River Canyon, is the highest point in the K2C BR at 1944m above sea level. Mariepskop supports a large diversity of life and has some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the Region. The Blyde River Canyon as well as the surrounding escarpment of the Northern Drakensberg is a region very popular with tourists and it has a well-developed tourism industry centred around the iconic panorama route that links to the Lowveld. The mountain temperatures vary in different parts depending on the altitude and the aspect of the sun with temperatures rapidly decreasing with an increase in altitude.  Mariepskop as part of Mpumalanga Drakensberg makes significant ecosystem service contributions, which underpin human wellbeing especially in terms of water security for downstream users. For example, the Klaserie River, a tributary of the Olifants and part of the Limpopo system has its source on Mariepskop.  Historically Mariepskop For…