zaterdag 12 januari 2008

Environmental Rehabilition - Removing Alien Vegetation

Environmental rehabiliation includes the removal of alien plant species like the Aster family (Chromolaena odarata), Guava trees/Myrtle family (Psidium guajava, which the wild animals love!) and Syringas/Mahogany (Melia azedarach).

The biggest problem with alien vegetation is that it usually chokes the indigenous plants, thereby changing the landscape and habits of the wildlife and birds. Feel free to read up more about these species on the links provided above.

We monitor Suni-Ridge Sand Forest Park regularly. Please help us to preserve the indigenous environment and protect the biodiversity? Thank you.

woensdag 26 december 2007

Billie the Sheepdog's Unwitting Christmas Gift

It's Christmas time and Suni-Ridge is buzzing with life! The sand forest is a dazzling burst of different shades of green, from light emerald green to khaki and an almost black green in the shaded areas.

The birds are exceptionally noisy and the wildlife - impala, wildebeest, nyala and our friendly zebra are in prime condition and their coats shimmer in the summer sun. The moon was nearly full last night and the forest lit up with an almost surreal appearance of a luminous landscape.

Lurking beneath this wonderful ambience of peace and tranquility however, is the sad and horrific truth of wildlife that is being maimed by snares that are being set by poachers to serve the bushmeat trade! Christmas is a particularly important time for this cruel activity to bring in the desired bounties for those practicing this illegal trade.

The suffering that snaring causes dampens the spirit of goodwill that abounds. Many Christmas wishes are sent showing peaceful graphics of animals but we wonder if anyone spares a thought for the suffering of wildlife at this time of the year.

At Suni-Ridge, thankfully we have managed to control the poaching and no animal has been snared for sometime now. Outside our reserve, however, in areas unprotected, snaring is rife!

I went on a scouting patrol to check our game guards activities and Billy my sheepdog companion and protector came along as he always does when I hike on the reserve. I usually have him on a leash but this morning he walked freely. On the way back from our 4km hike he ran off after a trail that he picked up and did not return.

When I eventually got home a gameguard reported that Billy was snared outside our property, where he had sipped through the fence. We grabbed the pliers and rushed to rescue him. Luckily he was only caught around his back leg and not on his neck where he could have been strangled!

Poor Billy, was in a distressed state and very anxious but unwittingly he had prevented some other unfortunate animal from being snared and dying an agonizing death in that snare. A sort of Christmas gift from Billy, to the wildlife in our surrounding area?

During 2008 we wish to address the critical need for a wildlife protection unit in and surrounding Suni-Ridge and in the buffer zone of the World Natural Heritage Site, the Isimanalisa Wetland Park.

Please help us achieve this by supporting us in any way that you may. In our quest for more humane management - a better deal - for the wildlife of our area, we know that "alone we are just a drop but together with your support, we are an ocean!"

Wishing you all a truly blessed Christmas and wonderful new year. Janet Cuthbertson.

zondag 2 december 2007

Water Catchment Forum

For the first time in history, False Bay dried out completely during the drought that we experienced in our area. False Bay, the northern basin of Lake St. Lucia is an intricate wetland and eco-system within the Isimangaliso Wetland Park World Natural Heritage Site.

False Bay Lake dried out completely during the drought that we experienced in our area

The lake has experienced droughts before, but this time the factor that tipped the scales against the lake sustaining it's water, was that no water reached the lake from the rivers as the small amount available was all used upstream. Fortunately, the lake is full again because the river mouth opened, letting in sea water.

Thanks to Suni-Ridge's efforts, the St. Lucia Water Catchment Management Forum has been established together with DWAF, and includes participants from all sectors including conservation, agriculture, business, Urban and Rural representatives. Rob Cuthbertson is currently the Chairman.

Proposed Community Orphanage (future project)

From the outset, when we arrived at Suni-Ridge in 1990, we concerned ourselves with the rural people in our area, who are are mostly disadvantaged and very poor. Our first project was to establish a school for the Zulu children of the families who work on the farms in the area, which is now called False Bay School.

This picture was drawn by Sindoleli, a pupil at False Bay School

We also work in the rural area about 10 kilometers from us, where there are many aids orphans. Sadly there are young teenagers who have to take care of their younger siblings and their situation is often desperately difficult.

They do not have enough food at times; they go to their high school, and then return to run the home (Zulu huts), where they are responsible for the younger children and babies. There is a desperate need for a Zulu community orphanage in the area.

Please support Suni-Ridge so that we can help the Zulu community take care of their orphans? Take Action / How to Sponsor Suni-Ridge

woensdag 3 oktober 2007

Proposed Wildlife Orphanage (future project)

Currently, most orphaned wild animals are left to fend for themselves. The common attitude is that "nature should take care of herself", and sadly, this is normally a death sentence for little babies whose parents have been snared, hunted or poached.

One of our future projects, includes setting up an orphanage for baby wild animals, and we need your help. Our goal is to give the orphans the survival skills needed, which they would have learned from their parents, so that they can return to the wild when the time comes.

Please visit our website for more information at

dinsdag 18 september 2007

The beauty of Suni-Ridge

"The upside of our life in the bush, as usual, is the beauty of Suni-Ridge. Every day is a gift and one feels the renewal of nature and God's presence. This time of the year is especially uplifting - not withstanding the heat - as all the young animals are born now.

The land is as beautiful as ever and the trees continue to revegetate. It is now a fully-fledged wildlife reserve. Animals are all over and numerous species are seen during any walk or drive. Impala, wildebeest, zebra, nyala, duiker, reedbuck, bush pig, suni, red dyker, grey duiker, tortoises, mongoose and many others including our tame zebra, "Old Boy" who lives on our lawn and often sleeps on our veranda.

We have a pair of green wood pigeons and 2 pairs of kingfishers that have made their home in our garden. There are also many hornbills, boerbuls, mossies, finches, sunbirds (3 varieties), starlings, and the list goes on. At the water holes we have Egyptian geese and white face whistling duck. There are also many hadeda shouting their wake up calls each morning. At night the owls, nightjar and bats can be seen and heard. Together with the screeching beetles and the croaking and squeaking of a myriad frogs, they make a loud chorus of African bush sounds as they serenade the waxing and waning moon.

When it is a clear night the sky is so close one can touch the stars. In the early morning the sunrise over the east always brings huge lung fills of crisp fresh air and sometimes a touch of the homely smell of a wood fire drifts across from a worker's home.

These indigenous people, the Zulu's, are a wonderful nation. We have great affinity with them and a peaceful existence in our area where we seem to be well thought of by them. For this we are truly thankful."

This article was written a few years ago by Janet Cutherbertson of Suni-Ridge Org. ZA.

vrijdag 31 augustus 2007

Environmental Education for Local Zulu Communities

To preserve the natural heritage of this amazing area, we have a great challenge to reach as many rural children in our area with the message that wildlife and it's habitat is their natural heritage, to be protected, cared for and held in trust for present and future generations.

We offer an environmental course to youth leaders who set up conservation clubs in their schools. We estimate that for every one learner taken through our intensive environmental awareness and leadership course, 50 other learners will be gathered into the circle of concerned young conservationists.

Thank you for your generous financial support, which enables local communities to live in a sustainable way and conserve their cultural natural heritage

These environmental leaders from Makhasa High School have been awarded their certificates for completing the Young Environmental Ambassadors Leadership Course. View the full program of Suni-Ridge's 5-day environmental course.