Beautiful Brunsvigia gregaria

Protect and save the beautiful Brunsvigia gregaria currently flowering in St Francis

Plants that beautify the Kouga area – Yvonne Craig

Brunsvigia gregaria flowering in St Francis

Individual Brunsvigia Gregaria

It is that time of the year again when one of the special plants of the Kouga area has raised its beautiful pink inflorescence above lawns, verges, and pavements and is nearly over. Now is the time to make sure that they do not disappear for good as they need to be protected even after flowering.

These plants are worth saving for their great beauty but unfortunately have become highly threatened because of urban development, alien invasion, and ignorance. They are in danger of dying out if people, new to the area, are not informed about them and botanists and plant lovers hope that with more awareness their disappearance may be halted.

There are two species of Brunsvigia which belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family. The larger one, Brunsvigia litoralis, with erect leaves, is restricted to a very small area and is not commonly seen whereas the smaller one, Brunsvigia gregaria, is more widespread. Both should be preserved.

The Brunsvigia plant has a large bulb with a particularly beautiful inflorescence. The latter consists of about 20 to 30 pink, to deep pink or crimson flowers on a stalk rising straight out of the ground, without any leaves being visible. The flowers usually appear above ground in autumn. After flowering, the dried inflorescence breaks loose in one piece and blows around like tumbleweed.

The flower should be left to dry naturally so that the seed can set and then be dispersed by wind. Gardeners are advised to mow around the flower to let it dry naturally. The plant can be propagated by planting the seeds.

After flowering, when the plant is building up growth for the next flowering period, the leaves come out (in the case of Brunsvigia gregaria) as two flat leaves (close to the ground) looking just like weeds to those not familiar with the plant. Gardeners often dig them up, not knowing what they are, so a wonderful treasure is lost.

“It is actually an offence to dig up Brunsvigia, or any lilliacae plants,” says Caryl Logie, a local botanist. “If they need to be rescued for any reason, a permit must be obtained from the Department of Environmental affairs in Aston Bay (telephone 042 292 0339).”

Questions regarding these plants may be directed to Caryl Logie on 042 294 0588.

Lawn with Brunsvigia gregari some years back

Lawn with Brunsvigia gregari some years back

Brunsvigia gregaria flowering in St Francis

Same lawn (photo in almost the same position) with greatly diminished number of flowers

Open Water Swimming

St Francis Open Water Swimming Club celebrates one year anniversary

St Francis Open Water Swimming - ready to start

St Francis Open Water Swimmers all ready to start

Why anyone would start a swimming club at the onset of winter, especially to swim in cold open water rather than warmly heated swimming pool is beyond most people’s sensibility for surely this puts them in the in the same category as mad dogs and Englishmen. Well this is what, Garth Perry, better known for his honey and indigenous plants, and a few of his fellow swimmers decided would be a good idea, exactly a year ago.

Most local swimmers keep in shape in the warm waters of the heated pool at Liquid Lines in Cape St Francis so the open water swimming is certainly not their only option to keep fit.  So it is either madness or another way we humans must constantly test the boundaries of our resolve and endurance.  In the early days of the weekly open water swim that only started exactly a year ago when water temp were already dropping, several swimmers set off in the inaugural swim. Way back then several swimmers came ill equipped and were spotted swimming without wetsuits but as more and more icebergs started to form, all sensibly donned wetsuits although once in a while a lone polar bear can still be spotted sans wetsuit,

All swims are timed and so swimmers participate, not in a race, but rather as a test their endurance in cold water and to see if they can improve on the their  times around the one kilometre lap of the canals each week. And as they progress some extend their swims to completing two, three and even four laps of the one kilometre course.

Judging from posts on WhatsApp it seems some may do it purely for the enticement of a beach blonde or two after the swim which starts and finishes at Quayside Restaurant on Seaglades. Before you envisage a line of beautifully tanned bikini clad girls waiting at the finish line with warm towels and hot soup, nay, the beach blondes are the produce of the St Francis Brewing Company sold now also on sale at Quaysyde. Why anyone would choose a cold beer after a swim amongst the iceberg is beyond one but as stated earlier, these lads and lasses have mad dogs and Englishmen shaking their heads in incredulity.

Fortunately the anniversary swim was swum in an iceberg melting 18 degrees and had some 30 swimmers participating. Considering there were only a handful of swimmers a year ago, the open water swimming concept has really caught on in St Francis. If you would like to join in this madness gather at Quaysyde, suggest you don a wetsuit over your speedo, and be ready to start swimming at 5:00pm sharp.

As the water temps drop Quaysyde has confirmed that hot soup will become available to those who would prefer a hot beverage over a cold Beach Blonde. If you need more motivation to join this group of intrepid swimmers give Garth a call on 083 30909169.

Kromme River Descent

Early next month this water madness extends to the annual Kromme River Descent when swimmers take on a 15 kilometre challenge with a  swim down the Kromme to St Francis. The event is held over over two days and attracts swimmers from around the Eastern Cape and farther afield.

St Francis Open Water Swimmers - They're off

St Francis Open Water Swimmers – And they’re off!

St Francis Open Water Swimmers - All done and warm again

St Francis Open Water Swimmers – All done and warmly dressed, some with Beach Blondes in hand

Photos kind courtesy St Francis Open Water Swimming Facebook page

Thyspunt Proposal Flawed

Hilton Thorpe comments on Thyspunt Work Groups

Following yesterdy’s post on the Thyspunt Work Groups to be established to help prepare the Kouga municipal area for the construction of a nuclear plant at Thyspunt, local anti-Thyspunt activist activist Hilton Thorpe posted the following comment which some may not have seen so it seems worth reprodicng as a post on its own.

Here is Hilton.s comment but one wonders if the Government would pay attention to the National Nuclear Regulator if they were to rule the site iand the proposed technology, unacceptable such is their determination to develop Thyspunt.

“Everything about the Thyspunt proposal is flawed, from the original site selection under apartheid restrictions to disregard of the Review by the CSIR in 1992, which concluded that the site was not suitable for development; to ignoring of the argument from the local community in 1998 that the site is not viable in terms of international emergency planning requirements; to the Scoping Report, which should have been rejected by the DEA in terms of NEMA requirements for failure to contain material information required; to the “co-operation agreement between the DEA & the Department of Energy, leaving the DoE in charge of nuclear issues, and effectively putting to sleep the viability issue until Eskom has applied to the NNR for a technology licence, which has still not happened; to the proposal by Eskom to apply for a reduction in emergency planning to 3 kilometres around the site, in terms of European Utility Requirements, which have been described by an English nuclear scientist as a “fiction” and only a wish-list; to the multiplicity of flawed draft environmental impact reports; to the flawed impact rating criteria, which made it impossible to have a “fatal flaw”; to the separate, and equally flawed transmission lines EIA, which based its recommendation on “national interest”, rather than environmental considerations; to the fatally flawed Final Environmental Impact Report. No wonder it is taking the DEA so long to come to a decision!

To-date, Eskom has done everything at risk, on the assumption that the EIA & Regulatory processes will go smoothly.

We can shortly expect the process by the National Nuclear Regulator, to determine whether or not both the site itself, and the proposed technology, are acceptable in terms of the Nuclear Regulator Act & Regulations. An immediate problem with this is that South Africa is a signatory to the International Atomic Energy Agency Convention, which demands that the Regulator must be independent of both political and commercial pressure. This will be difficult to justify in the light of recent political developments in the country,and of the fact that Eskom will be financing the process.

The St Francis community should be aware of the probable social impact of the project going ahead. When the Mosgas project began it is said that 100000 unemployed people converged on the town looking for work. Mossel Bay is now a large town, with a huge unemployment problem. Much the same applies to Lephalale, following the Medupi project. This can only lead to land invasion, and all the social pathologies associated with informal settlements.

Eskom’s behaviour so far has been irresponsible, and there is no reason to assume that it will change. It may be necessary to go to court to stop this.”

Yvonne Bosman

Yvonne BosmanYvonne Bosman Honoured by Eastern Cape Birding

At a meeting of Bird Life Eastern Cape, held in Port Elizabeth on 11 April, 2017, Yvonne Bosman (formerly Craig) was awarded the “Tony Dechandt” Award for her outstanding contribution to birding in the Eastern Cape over the past twenty-four years.

When she moved to St Francis Bay with her late husband, Vic, in 1991, she said that she could not tell the difference between an ostrich & a mossie. It was not long before she was inspired by a talk at the Garden Club to join the PE Bird Club, and from then on she was hooked. She is now one of the acknowledged experts in the area, and is frequently consulted on birding matters.

Within two years she had started the St Francis Bay Bird Club, with six members. Apart from a short interlude, she has chaired it ever since. There are currently 85 paid-up members, drawn from all over the region, from Tsitsikamma to Patensie, Hankey, Jeffreys Bay, Paradise Beach, Cape St Francis & St Francis Bay; this, despite the need to rise well before dawn. It is a direct consequence of Yvonne’s enthusiasm, knowledge, commitment and organizing skills. Outings are held every first & third Friday of the month, come rain or shine, and Yvonne has identified some 20 good birding spots, many in places to which access would otherwise be denied. She also organizes longer four-day visits to more remote areas. Her low-key, friendly manner is largely responsible for the relaxed & friendly atmosphere within the club.

A most significant part of Yvonne’s voluntary activities is the contribution she makes to the Animal Demography Unit at UCT. This includes Oyster Catcher, CWAC & Car counts, with four teams operating between Palmietvlei and the Gamtoos; six-weekly monitoring of functioning and proposed wind farms in the area; and “atlassing” all over the country. Yvonne has personally completed more than 800 pentab cards, each requiring a minimum of 2 hours on the ground, and much time on the computer. For this she was awarded a “Milestone Award” by the Animal Demography Unit, based at UCT.

She has organized Birding Big Day activities, bird identification courses, talks to the general public, slide shows to raise funds for penguins, talks to schools, and has written articles on birds for the PE Bird Club magazine and for the local press.

On top of all this, she was for many years the St Francis Bay correspondent for “Our Times”, and  the indefatigable Secretary of the St Francis Kromme Trust. She now participates, with husband Peter, in Neighbourhood Watch patrols in St Francis Bay.

Yvonne is the most unassuming, caring and hospitable person one could ever hope to meet. She probably has little idea how much she has enriched the lives of those around her, and continues to do so. She is a most deserving recipient of this award by Bird Life Eastern Cape, and a wonderful member of the St Francis Bay community.

Note from St Francis Today

Yvonne has long been a major contributor to st Francis Today and regularly submits news on all manner of news. Congratulations on the award Yvonne, it is well desrved.



Thyspunt work groups

Thyspunt work groups to be established

Seven work groups will be established to help prepare the Kouga municipal area for the construction of a nuclear plant at Thyspunt should the national power project receive the green light.

Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen said the work groups would serve as sub-committees of the Thyspunt Nuclear Project Joint Steering Committee.

The Joint Steering Committee was established in December last year and is co-chaired by Eskom and Kouga Municipality. Members include Kouga Municipality, Eskom, the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT), the East Cape Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta EC), the South African Police Service (SAPS), Sarah Baartman District Municipality (SBDM) and the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa).

The Mayor said the proposed scope, mandate, activities, budget requirements, risks, milestones and membership of each of the seven groups were discussed at a meeting of the Joint Steering Committee at Jeffreys Bay on Friday (7 April 2017).

“The work groups will be responsible for identifying and addressing opportunities and potential pitfalls for the Kouga area, including infrastructure shortages and socio-economic impacts, should the Thyspunt development proceed,” she said.

“As stated before, the Kouga Council is not opposed to nuclear development per se, but we are not willing for Kouga and its people to be disadvantaged by the project.

“If a nuclear plant is to be built in our area, Kouga’s people must be ready to reap the benefits and proper measures must be in place to mitigate any potential threats.”

The proposed work groups were introduced by Eskom’s acting General Manager: Nuclear New Build, Loyiso Tyabashe, who co-chairs the Joint Steering Committee with the Mayor.

The work groups are: Infrastructure, Human Capital, Regulatory and Environment, Supplier Development, Safety and Security, Finance and Stability, and Stakeholder Management and Communication.

Tyabashe said the groups would be facilitated by either Eskom or Kouga Municipality, as the main roleplayers, and consist of senior representatives from key government departments and state-owned enterprises.

They will report back to the Joint Steering Committee on a quarterly basis.

The Mayor stressed that a final decision had not yet been made about the proposed nuclear plant at Thyspunt.

“These structures are being put in place so as to ensure that roleplayers and stakeholders are ready should the project receive the nod. If approved, Thyspunt will be the biggest development our municipal area has ever seen. We want to ensure that the best interests of our communities are taken into account at all times,” she said.

Tyabashe said Eskom was currently awaiting the outcome of the final Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regarding its nuclear plans from the Department of Environmental Affairs. Applications for two Nuclear Installation Site Licences, at Thyspunt and Duynefontein, have also been submitted to the National Nuclear Regulator.

“There have been some delays in the release of the Environmental Authorisation (EA) due to the scope and complexity of the project, but the Department has indicated that the EA should be issued by mid-2017,” he said.

Issued jointly by Kouga Local Municipality and Eskom

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