Thursday, 19 April 2012

Mthobisi Gumede: Internship with the Durban Branch

Interview with Mthobisi Gumede, intern
19th April 2012

Mthobisi Gumede is studying Ecotourism at DUT.  He served an internship with the Durban Branch and with the regional office, from late November 2011 to mid April 2012.  These are extracts from his exit interview.
What did you know or realise that you did not know before?
Before I knew what alien clearing was, but now I have become able to identify specific plants that were alien plants.  At home I have a fence that I now know is Lantana; I want to remove it and plant indigenous trees there.
At Treasure Beach, in my first level in Biology, I knew the animals only in theory, and I had never had the opportunity to see and touch them.
I have decided to change my career [from Ecotourism]… it is tourism based on the environmental side.  What I have seen and experienced, it changed my focus and my direction.  I want to be involved more in the environment than in tourism…Ecotourism is customer service based.  It becomes a burden; customers have to be treated like kings or queens.  I have become convinced that I do a BTech in Environmental Management.
Has it changed your understanding of what is meant by the environment?
Absolutely.  Some things we take for granted.  We were studying Leatherback Turtles; the wind transports plastic into the ocean, and the population declines because the turtles eat the plastic and die.  I was at Folweni when people were slaughtering a cow, in the township area.   That particular cow was sick, and so the owner said that they must slaughter.  In the stomach of the cow they found a great deal of plastic, because these cows are eating on the dumping sites…  If this were to happen to every cow, we would soon have no source of meat.  It was impossible for me to tell them not to eat that particular meat.  I told them that I was a vegetarian for these few days....
I have learnt about a Leatherback Turtle, but never seen it.  A cow though is owned by a person in the community; this brings it to a local level, it generates that knowledge that we should do something about it...  Then I ask myself, what if all these people get a sudden sickness, maybe 50 people in a community die because they ate this cow.  Maybe they are not aware of this. 
What about being an educator?
At Treasure beach we were nature guides, taking school kids down to the beach.  On the way we would see an alien plant, maybe Chromolaena, and explain it, also the formation of the coastal dune, and how it was formed...  We tell them that if these things, the fish and other animals that we have come to learn about here, for future generations we should be thinking about them, so we must reduce litter as much as we can. If there is a bin we must use it and it can be taken to a landfill site or be recycled.  There is a walking board making out of recycled plastic, and it is good compared to a wooden one.  Teaching recycling, pollution a€nd how to try to tie it up together, through education.
What WESSA offers:  I did put the theory into practice.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Notice UEC AGM 18 April 2012 | speakers Roy Cowgill and Steve Davis | Coordinated Waterbird Counts (CWAC) | Umgeni River Estuary

P O Box 5, Hyper by the Sea, 4053                                              Tel. no: 0315815300

     Supported by the Pick ‘n Pay Hypermarket, Durban North

                           ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the Umgeni Estuary Conservancy will be held at:

VENUE           :                       Pick ‘n Pay Hypermarket Training Centre

DATE              :                       18 April 2012

TIME               :                       5.00 for 5.30pm

Enter through the staff entrance, which is on the north side of the Hypermarket and proceed to the first floor following the arrows to the training centre.


Roy Cowgill and Steve Davis of Birdlife Port Natal will speak on the Coordinated Waterbird Counts (CWAC) project and their contribution to these regular mid-summer and mid-winter censuses of the birds counted on the uMngeni Estuary since inception of the programme launched by the Animal Demography Unit in 1992.

Refreshments will be served.  Contact Margaret Burger on 0836305380 / 0315731054 or Pushie Pillay on 0315815300 to RSVP.

1.              Welcome
2.              Apologies
3.              Chairman’s report
4.              Financial report
5.              Election of members
6.              General
7.              Speaker

Archaeological Society AGM Tuesday 24 April 2012 at 18:15 | speaker Prof Adrian Koopman

25th Oliver Davies Memorial Lecture: Boy-of-the-Marshes: Zulu plant names and the recording of indigenous botanical knowledge by Prof Adrian Koopman on Tuesday 24 April 2012  at 18:45 (following the Archaeological Society AGM at 18:15) at the Durban Natural Science Museum Research Centre, Wyatt Rd, Durban. Free, all welcome. Christine 031 563 8659. 

Boy-of-the-Marshes: Zulu plant names and the recording of indigenous botanical knowledge
by Prof. Adrian Koopman
The Zulu Botanical Knowledge project (ZBK) is an on-going research project which is attempting to capture as much as possible the indigenous knowledge of plants held by Zulu-speaking elders before this knowledge is lost to forthcoming generations.

Transferring knowledge held in the “group memory” of a community to paper has certain problems, mainly because of two conflicting systems of knowledge storage, and two conflicting systems of plant identification. The EuroWestern world of botany pursues a quaint fiction that “Among botanists, each and every plant species has one and one only name, used for that species and no other”. This concept of “one plant one name” applies, of course, only to botanical nomenclature, and not to plant names in various vernaculars. However, plants recognized by the Zulu-speaking community frequently have more than one name, often as many as five or six; at the same time what botanists may recognize as four or five plants which appear to be similar but in fact are of different species, are frequently seen by indigenous botanists as the same ‘species’ and so share a name.  A third problem is the EuroWestern notion that written names (whether of plants, places or people) must have only one spelling. In the EuroWestern knowledge system, there is a notion that entities (names, poems, the lyrics of songs, etc.) have a ‘correct’ form. This does not, and cannot apply to knowledge held in memory and disseminated orally, simply because oral communication does not have spelling.

The difficulties mentioned above are explored in this talk, with particular emphasis paid to the plant Stylochiton natalensis (the Bushveld Arum), which has the Zulu name umfana kaNozihlanjana (‘little boy-of-the-marshes’)

D’MOSS Sea View | trail walk Sunday 15 April 2012, from George Codnor Park to the old mill site and back

D’MOSS trail walk Sunday 15 April 2012

On Sunday 15 April you are all again invited to join in a D’MOSS trail walk from George Codnor Park to the old mill site and back. We meet at 10 o’clock at George Codnor Park at the top of Coedmore Road just south of the Sarnia Road. The “friends of the D’MOSS trail walkers” will be looking after the motorcars at the park.

From the park we join the trail near Sunnyside Road and head south down the servitude, across the end of Ballarat Road and into Coedmore sports fields. From there we head up Braid Avenue, cross the railway line, and continue along the trail to a view site overlooking the Umhlatazana River. From the view site we follow the trail parallel to the railway line, under the N2 (outer ring road) and head towards the single carriage bridge across the Umhlatazana at Stainbank. Another 100 metres takes us to the Old Mill site and a shaded, picnic spot. After a ten minute rest we head back along the same route to George Codnor Park and tea and juice, which the “friends of the D’MOSS trail walkers” will have ready for us. The “friends” have asked that walkers contribute R5 towards the cost of the tea and juice.

Much of the walk is in shade but sun-block, hats, and sturdy shoes are recommended. We are likely to have a little mud in the path going down the valley from Sunnyside Road. This is not a long walk and should take about two hours or less.

Derek Nicholson  031 465 4278     072 400 1216

So far we have been arranging these walks from month to month, but we want to start organizing walks well ahead of time to cater for special interest groups. Below is a list of possible groups.

  1. School environment club members – high and primary school (could be during school times)
  2. Bird watching groups – at a season and time that would best suit them
  3. Butterfly and moth, water insects, and other small animal interests
  4. Indigenous tree and plant interest group; horticultural study students
  5. Bat interest group
  6. Scout and guide leadership groups, or proficiency badge tasks
  7. Artists, photography students
I would be grateful if you have any comments on these ideas, or could give me contact numbers of individuals or groups, or organizations you think would like to make use of the trails. This open space system in Sea View is a unique facility available without cost and it can only enrich the lives and enhance the experiences of all who use it.  

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Advanced eco village under construction

Advanced Eco Village under construction

Construction has started on what the developers say will be SA's first completely self-sustainable farm village, near Van Staden's bridge outside Port Elizabeth.

Crossways Farm Village, to be built on 560ha, will include its own state-of-the-art dairy farm, water supplies independent of the municipal system, a waste recycling centre and solar panels on all the houses, among other green innovations.
It will comprise several neighbourhoods spanning both sides of the N2 highway around the Van Staden's bridge, connected by underpasses.

Environmental Youth Leaders' Course | 29 April to 1 May 23012