DONATIONS TO STEENBOK
WESSA is a South African environmental organization which aims to initiate and support high impact environmental and conservation projects to promote participation in caring for the Earth. For over 90 years WESSA has proactively engaged with the challenges and opportunities presented by our country’s unique natural heritage and the social and economic systems that depend on it.
Please visit their website for more information. http://wessa.org.za/about-us/overview/
GARDENING@LEISURE DONATION TO STEENBOK
Steenbok Nature Reserve thanks all the dedicated members of Gardening @ Leisure for their continued support and guidance. At their April meeting Kathy Michaelides, the Treasurer of Gardening @ Leisure once again presented Roger Voysey with a donation of R5,000. For the last fifteen years Gardening @ Leisure has made yearly donations to Steenbok Nature Reserve. In the early days when the club had less than 30 members the amounts were small; however they did help with buying trees and shrubs for the Indigenous Garden. The talented club members also ran a plant sale at the annual Leisure Isle Festival, with all the proceeds going to Steenbok Nature Reserve. Later donations were used for benches, a sundial, plants, upgrading of the notice board at the entrance, the tool shed at Roger’s Way and the eradication of sword fern in Kingfisher Creek. The latter was the catalyst that inspired Roger, with expertise help from Esther Townsend, to tackle the invading Madeira vine, more sword fern, lantana, cestrum, and vinca. During most of 2018, with the help of Ivy Garden Services the invader plants were removed. Follow-ups will now have to be carried out for the next five or more years. Gardening @ Leisure’s donation of R 5,000 will assist in the cost of this eradication programme, which has so far amounted to over R100,000!
VOLUNTEERS IN STEENBOK NATURE RESERVE
The water at the two aquifer ponds (one where the pump is, and the other one lower down which is big enough for dogs to lie down in) comes straight out of the aquifer and does not get any chemicals (such as chlorine) added into it. Nor does the water get circulated at all, like in swimming pools. Consequently the water gets dirty very quickly from dogs drinking and bathing in it, and algae grows very quickly in it, especially in the hot summer months. With all the dogs drinking and bathing there, the ponds also get empty quite quickly.
Enter Arjen and Ingrid Meter who go to the aquifer every single day to attend to it … (And they love doing this!) They ensure the two ponds are completely full by pumping water at least once a day. Some of the other SNR friends also pump water. >They clean the two ponds two or three times per week by firstly scooping out all the old, dirty water; then scrubbing the sides and bottom of the ponds with a strong scrubbing brush to get the algae off; and finally refilling the ponds. (Good arm and abs exercise!). They also tidy up the pebbles surrounding the aquifer.
MARCH RAINFALL GRAPHS
The monthly rainfall for March was 48 mm, which brings us to the end of the first quarter of 2019 with a cumulative rainfall of 131 mm. As can be seen by the graph, this is substantially lower than the same period last year. However it is only 10% less than the cumulative figure for the ten year average for the first quarter.
SPORTING EVENT IN STEENBOK
Awesome fun for the teams that spent a great morning on Leisure Island as part of Enhanced Throwdown Family Day event. Steenbok Nature Reserve hosted a few of the workouts and the Seedpod was the obvious place for the prize giving. Well done to all the competitors and thank you Benn & Jenavicka Lombard for organizing this event.
AUTUMN FLORA IN STEENBOK
Aloiampelos ciliaris var. ciliaris
Common names: climbing aloe (Eng.);
It was previously called Aloe ciliaris var. ciliaris but along with other small shrubby scrambling aloes has been moved to the genus Aloiampelos.
According to Dr G.W. Reynolds, Aloiampelos ciliaris var. ciliaris was first collected by John Burchell, a well-known English traveller, on 9 Oct. 1813 in the Port Alfred District. It was named Aloe cilliaris var. ciliaris by the succulent plant botanist, Adrian Haworth in 1825. Molecular research has lead to the recent name change. The specific epithet ciliaris pertains to its marginal teeth arranged like an eyelash and extending right around the base of the amplexicaul leaf.
Their recurved leaves act as hooks, allowing the plant to anchor itself in thick vegetation. This rambling aloe is indigenous to the Eastern Cape and is in full bloom west of the tennis courts. The bright orange-red flowers are pollinated by sunbirds.
Common names: Dune crow-berry; duinekraaibessie (Afr.)
SA Tree No: 380.1
Searsia crenata is a member of the Anacardiaceae, the mango family. This small tree or shrub is low branching, multi-stemmed and clump forming with a rounded canopy that hugs the ground. It is easy to spot while walking along the paved paths in Steenbok Nature Reserve.
The very small flowers grow in small clusters at the ends of branches and the small, fleshy, hairless-berries (females only) mature in mid-winter from green to red and then to dark blue. The leaves are alternately arranged and are trifoliolate (each leaf has three leaflets). The petiole (leafstalk) is very short and the leaflets are sessile (attached to stalk). Leaflets are 10-20mm long, leathery, narrowly obovate to rounded and bluntly pointed at the apex. Leaflets are dark green above and lighter in colour below; they appear to be hairless. The species name, crenata refers to the leaves that are toothed with crenatures or scallops. The fruit attracts many birds which ensures successful germination and subsequently species survival.
Bees and butterflies enjoy the pollen produced by the bright yellow flowers.
Look out during June and July when a large numbers of hungry and gregarious caterpillars hatch on this shrub. Groups of the caterpillars mass together as they eat every leaf on the shrubs, soon completely denuding them so that from a distance they look dead. However, after a few weeks the first signs of new green leaves appear and eventually the shrubs recover completely. The caterpillars are the larvae of the Barred Eggarlet Moth (Bombycomorpha bifascia) – a light-coloured moth with brown markings on its wings, which lays its eggs on the host plant in April or May. When they are fully grown, the caterpillars move to places where they can create tough cocoons in which to pupate, from which the moth eventually emerges – so beginning the cycle once more.
INTERESTING FAUNA IN STEENBOK
A wasp nest spotted in Steenbok Nature Reserve
Unlike bees, wasps can sting repeatedly. This is why you should stay away from this insect and refrain from angering them, especially social wasps. Social wasps release a pheromone that emits a signal when they are upset.
This pheromone is their cry for help, making other wasps become more aggressive. This means that if you anger one of them, their whole colony will come to that lone wasp’s defense!
Knysna Dwarf Chameleon
This is chameleon season and many Knysna Dwarf chameleons (Bradypodion damaranum) have been spotted in the trees near the main entrance to Steenbok.
These little guys are endemic to South Africa and can grow to 180mm, they live happily in Steenbok, shying away from predators amongst the numerous trees and bushes.
We can help protect the Knysna Dwarf chameleons – having lost so many in the Knysna fires – by providing them safe shelters in ours gardens away from our pets‘ reach.
– their tongues are twice as long as their bodies, which is ideal for catching their meals.
– they change colour to communicate with each other, when in a good mood they would turn bright turquoise, orange, white, blue and many other sorts of colours. While turning dark colours (mostly black) would reflect depression or trauma.
– their eyes can move in different directions and can see each other from very far away.
For more information and advice, visit Knysna Dwarf chameleons’ Facebook page :