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