FOSTER - friends of St Francis nature areas

Today’s article on the Cape St Francis Nature Reserve is the last in this series about the four nature reserves to be found in Cape St Francis. Our next article will focus on the memorial benches that are to be found predominantly in the Seal Point Nature Reserve and the policies in place around placing and maintaining the benches.

The Cape St Francis Nature Reserve is the tract of land linking Cape St Francis and St Francis Bay and offers several cycle and walking trails. The reserve also boasts the Headland by-pass dune field which stretches from the eastern end of the Seal Bay beach to St Francis Bay. This is the last-remaining mobile by-pass dune supplying sand to St Francis Bay. The other by-pass dunes were stabilised with the establishment of Santareme, which is one of the contributing factors to the beach erosion in St Francis Bay.

Visitors have a choice of walks through various coastal habitats from rocky shores, beaches, and salt-stunted vegetation. Beautiful views of both bays and beyond can be enjoyed from the look-out path.

Shark Point is often cited as the second most southerly point in Africa although this is not strictly true. It does, however, offer wonderful coastal birding and whale watching opportunities. The point is a 30minute walk from the Port or a 20minute walk from Cape St Francis and is well worth the visit.

For the more adventurous, a hike from the lighthouse to the Port via Shark Point culminating in breakfast or lunch at one of the restaurants there is well worth doing. A good idea is to drop off a car first at the Port so that one does not have to hike all the way back.

Cyclists are also well catered for in the Cape St Francis Nature Reserve with a few interesting and even challenging routes which are well used. As in other reserves, cyclists are asked to stick to the marked paths to preserve the sensitive vegetation in the area.

Local artist Arrie Bezuidenhout has painted many of the plants to be found in the reserves. Below are two such examples of his work.

All the reserves are managed by FOSTER (Friends of St Francis Nature Areas) in accordance with an MOU with the Kouga Municipality. Through membership fees and monies raised, FOSTER looks after and maintains the walking paths and trails and removes alien vegetation.

In a partnership between the KOUGA Municipality and FOSTER, a team from Working on Fire, have been clearing firebreaks in the Irma Booysen Reserve since last week. This is to help prepare Cape St Francis for the summer fire season. Work has begun near the tennis courts and will then proceed towards the Birkenhead and Diaz entrances of the reserve.

The website http://foster.org.za/gallery/wppaspec/oc1/cv0/ab2 offers those interested in the vegetation, birds and wildlife an extensive list with photographs of the fauna and flora to be found in the reserves. It also provides maps of the walks and membership details.

Matt Gennrich

Arrie Bezuidenhout Art FOSTER Cape St Francis