Maggie and Roger with Maggie’s “Owl Award” for her outstanding contribution to the conservation and protection of birds and their habitat.
A singular honour was bestowed on Maggie Langlands, a local resident of St Francis Bay, last week. BirdLife South Africa presented her with an “Owl Award” for her outstanding contribution to the conservation and protection of birds and their habitat.
In this award ceremony, held at the Southern Sun Hyde Park Hotel in Johannesburg, BirdLife South Africa acknowledged companies and individuals who donate their time and money to the organisation, which makes it possible to continue all their conservation programmes and projects. Maggie was among companies, captains of industry and well-known personalities to receive this award. Only twelve Owl Awards, one Owlet (for a youngster) and two Eagle-Owl Awards are presented each year from the many nominations nation-wide that are submitted so it is a notable honour for Maggie to have been chosen.
Maggie took it upon herself, and has spent the last five years organizing and motivating a dedicated team of monitors from the local St Francis Bay Bird Club to undertake regular counting of birds potentially affected by the Wind Turbine Farms constructed and under construction in the Kouga Municipal area of the Eastern Cape.
This undertaking is independent of any formal arrangement set up by those directly involved in the Wind Farms.
The species specifically under scrutiny are endangered Denham’s Bustard, Blue Crane and White-bellied Korhaan. Other priorities include a large population of Black Harrier, many of the larger raptors – Crowned Eagle, Martial Eagle, Long-crested Eagle – and large migrations of Amur Falcons and White Stork.
With her eye on the future, she has also been instrumental in ensuring that the construction and operating companies involved are aware of their current and prospective environmental obligations and is at present leading an initiative on behalf of the St Francis Kromme Trust to establish a Stewardship Biodiversity Programme with local landowners, farmers, and communities whose land is affected directly or indirectly, by these turbines.
Farmers involved in these initiatives may realise benefits such as increased marketing opportunities, tax benefits and access to support and advice from conservation staff. The Eastern Cape Nature and Tourism Department is fully supporting this endeavour and with Maggie’s assistance and recommendations have appointed a full time Environmental Officer to steer the project.
Maggie paid tribute to her dedicated team of birders who volunteer their time and expertise every six weeks to monitor birds on wind farms. All records are submitted to Birdlife South Africa on a six weekly cycle as well as to the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town.
Owl Award winners at the award ceremony, held at the Southern Sun Hyde Park Hotel in Johannesburg
Article & Photographs supplid by Yvonne Bosman
Several readers who did not attend the EIA meeting at St Francis Links on Tuesday evening have spoken to St Francis Today asking about the reported “fracas and fisticuffs” during the meeting. Sitting some 20 meters from where the alleged incident occurred, nothing untoward was apparent so we cannot honestly comment if was merely a threatening gesture, an intention to strike or an actual hit. One thing that was clear however that the recipient of boos and heckles was not a welcomed participant. Certainly there were police officers in attendance but whether it was because of this heckling incident or a pre-considered precaution is a subject for SAPS to confirm or deny.
Investigating the matter a little further it appears that certain members of the gathering felt that as the recipient of the heckles, a nuclear physicist, was not a resident of the St Francis area and the fact that he works in an advisory capacity to certain state organisations, he had no right to make statements in support of Thyspunt from the floor and should have rather sat with the Eskom and consultants table to answer questions rather than promote his personal views. There certainly is some value to this in that the meeting was intended for St Francis residence to voice their concerns and ask questions rather than listen to a PR exercise in support of Thyspunt. Certainly the doctor had a right to speak but possibly given that he is not a resident and given the emotion of the subject, it was ill advised.
As to members of the audience being inebriated, St Francis Today certainly did not see any drunkenness and it is a certainty that the management of St Francis Links would not tolerate such. Considering the meeting started at 6:00 pm it seems unlikely there would have been time for more than a couple of beers or scotches before proceedings kicked off, unless the inebriates had enjoyed a good lunch somewhere prior to the meeting which seems unlikely on a Tuesday afternoon. Yes certain members of the audience certainly did show their disdain for the good doctor but to call them drunk would be somewhat derogatory and an insult to the event host’s management.
It was encouraging that the panel made up of the consultants and Eskom representatives did assure that certain questions would certainly be looked into. One particular concern was the 3, or was it 6 (different values were mentioned) million cubic metres of sand that was to be pumped into the sea would affect the squid spawning grounds. An excellent suggestion from St Francis Bay Residents Association chairman, Nigel Aitken, was that should Thyspunt indeed go ahead it would be far better to transport the sand from the construction site to the eroding beaches of St Francis than pump it into the sea and risk damage to the chokka industry. The consultants certainly took note of this and agreed to look into it further. Whether it is feasible or not will no doubt be the subject of another environmental investigation that in turn will have its own objectors.
If Thyspunt goes ahead which seems a fait accompli, it is important for residents to voice their concerns and as many questions were left unanswered, this cannot be the end of the process. It is important that concerns are noted and dealt with to ensure any such development has as little negative impact on the lives of all in the region and the environment as is possible.
The gently flowing stream that can turn int a raging torrent in minutes during heavy downpours. downpours
Those familiar with the little village of De Rust will be know the road northwards that winds its way up through the Swartberg via the beautiful Meiringspoort. The first road through the poort was built way back in 1858 and used primarily for transporting wool from the Karoo to the port at Mossel Bay. Over the years the road through the poort has been rebuilt several times after severe floods virtually destroyed its existence, most recently in 1996 which required the road to be totally rebuilt. A recent flood in March this year resulted in several travelers being stranded in a flash flood and Disaster Management had to be called in to assist motorist trapped in rising waters. (read more on recent flooding on Meiringspoort)
If you have never experienced the poort it really is worthwhile detouring slightly when travelling to or from Cape Town using Cape Route 62 which meanders through the Cape towns of Paarl, Wellington, Breede River Valley through Oudtshoorn, De Rust and finally the Langkloof before joining the N2 shortly after leaving Kareedouw. (more information on the Cape Route 62)
Unlike many mountain passes Meiringspoort has a gentle gradient and is a popular destination for both cyclists and runners with the well-established “Meiringspoort 21” hosted in De Rust every October as well as the KKK MTB Tour that passes through the Meiringspoort on the route up to Prince Albert.
But it is the annual Meiringspoort 21.1K and 10K that grabs our attention this week for several local runners and walkers took part in this extremely popular event that attracted some 850 entrants for the 10K event and 1720 competitors for the 21.1K.
Geanne Darke, Shelley Donaldson, Liezl Clause, Lorrin Jarvis, Louise Ackerman, Louise Niven, Heather White and Craig Jarvis flew the St Francis Runners flag in the on the day all competing in the 21.1 K event.
Louise Ackerman and Geanne came in together with a good time of 2:04:07 & 08 with Louise Niven clocking in at 2:10:15 with Heather in two minutes later followed. Running for each other, the rest of the St Francis Runners pack made up of Shelley, Liezl, Lorren and Craig timed it brilliantly to all finish simultaneously with a time of 2:20:03. That is the real meaning of a ‘running mate’.
The St Francis Runners flying the flag
The 21.1 K event was a 1,2,3,4 for Nedbank SWD runners with Gershwill Jacobs taking the winners spot in 30:46 a minute ahead of second placed Francois Maquassa.
The 10K event also had a few St Francis Runners and a trio of walkers competing with Patrick Thompson finishing in 1:16:12 with Kirsten literally on his heels seven seconds later completing. Running in her first ever 10K event Ezna Kennedy, from St Francis Pharmacy, completed the 10K in a very creditable time of 59:59.
Not far behind the 10K runners were the Cape St Francis Resort trio of walkers CEO Anita Lennox, Riekie Minnie and Michele Stocks with Michelle leading her colleagues in with a time of 1:19:40 with Anita following in 1:2643 and Riekie 1:28:44.
Patrick and Kirsten Thompson
Congrats to you all for flying the St Francis regions flag and let us hope this inspires a lot more walkers and runners to join in next year’s event on the 16th October 2016. The Saturday Park Run is a good place to start and by this time next year let the list be a lot longer.