Removing Tortoises from Roads

Removing Tortoises from Roads



The issue regarding people picking tortoises up from roads and taking them home, is an age-old one, because of what I call, the “ag-shame”-factor. Tortoises and chameleons unfortunately have this “thing” about them that people always want to “take care” of them, doing more harm than good in reality.Don't remove tortoises like this Karoo Padloper from their natural environment

I firmly believe the main reason why people, while speeding along the N1 from Cape Town to Johannesburg or vice versa, would stop and pick up tortoises on the road (which haven’t been run over yet!), is exactly because they think: Ag, shame, look at the poor, lonely tortoise! He must be lost and we must save him.

Therefore, we stop and pick the tortoise up and then: Oh, daddy, can we take the poor tortoise home, pleeeez? He looks so sad and lonely! Ag ja jong, bring the tortoise, we’ll take him home and give him a good home. Not long after this, Tortoise starts looking ill and thin (having been on a lettuce diet for two weeks, because we heard that this is what tortoises love), so we decide that the best thing for it is to get it back in nature, so we take Tortoise to the closest piece of veld and release him, and say proudly to our friends: Look, we have done our bit for conservation!!

In the meantime, Tortoise, who grew up in the Karoo, now finds himself in the bushveld or grassland and can’t find anything to eat really (there’s just grass around and no lekker succulent bossies to chew on!), gets sicker and sicker, gets a runny nose because he is stressed out of his shell, meets another tortoise, transfers the runny nose syndrome virus to his new friend and eventually slowly starves to death.

Meanwhile, runny nose syndrome spreads like wildfire in the otherwise healthy local population, and before long, Gauteng nature conservators are confronted with serious losses in the local tortoise population.

Okay, if you’ve read this far, pardon me, I tend to get carried away a bit sometimes!!

Seriously though, this is just a popular version of exactly what happens when people pick these animals up along the roads and take them home. What they don’t realise is that wild animals need special attention if and when you want to place them in captivity, and because not many people know how to care for animals such as tortoises, the animals are usually at the short end of the stick.


There are 4 main reasons why people should not pick tortoises up along our roads:

  • First, for heaven’s sake!!! The animal is not lost or lonely! There just happens to be a road in its way while trying to get to a neighbouring piece of veld and its just busy doing what tortoises normally do, and that is wander through the veld in search of a good meal or shelter or a mate! Therefore, the kindest favour you can do a tortoise crossing the road, is to pick him up, and put him in the veld on the side of the road in the direction it was travelling.
  • Secondly, immediately when you pick a tortoise up and turn it over to see its tummy (because that’s what we were taught to do), it urinates, loosing precious moisture, which during the dry season for example, has been saved and stored by the animal and which may have to carry it over to the next rainy season. So even if you put it back in the veld, its health may have been compromised.
  • When you place wild animals such as wild-caught tortoises in captivity and can’t supply it with sufficient facilities and proper care, the animal comes under stress, which causes natural, and normally dormant, disease agents, such as viruses, bacteria, internal parasites and even disease vectors like ticks, to become “bold” and which inevitably leads to disease. When you do your “good deed” by releasing the animal to “save” it, you are actually infecting your local and resident (in this case) tortoise population with foreign disease agents, which could have disastrous effects on the local fauna.
  • Finally, even if the animal survives all of the above, by placing non-local animals into local populations, one runs the risk of genetically contaminating resident populations, for example if you take Western Cape angulate tortoises to Port Elizabeth and vice versa. This is something that conservation agencies want to avoid since we support the conservation of biodiversity at the landscape, population, species and genetic level. The non-local tortoise may introduce (by mating with local residents) “bad genes” into this otherwise genetically healthy population.

I guess I could go on and on, but these are as far as I am concerned the main reasons why people should not pick up tortoises along any road, and certainly avoid running them over, unlike some road users who would deliberately run them over!

A final reason why one should not put animals such as tortoises which have been in captivity for a long time, back into nature is among other the fact that it has become used to a regular source of food, water and shelter, and once back in nature, it would find it very difficult to cope with the harsh reality of less food, very little water (if any), predators, etc. One is actually signing its death warrant!

Source: Ernst Baard

Beheer van Veldbrande

Beheer van Veldbrande


Basiese Vereistes

Maak doeltreffende voorbrande rondom u eiendom.
Deur dit te doen sal u u eiendom beskerm en verhoed dat brande versprei na u bure se eiendom.

Stel altyd u bure in kennis wanneer u beplan om ‘n voorbrand te maak.
(Let op na die vereistes in die Nasionale Wet op Veld- en Bosbrande)

Gemeenskapiike voorbrande moet gesamentlik gedoen word.
Dit sal verseker dat verantwoordelikhede gelykop gedeel word in geval van ‘n krisis.

Voorbrande moet gemaak word onder gunstige weersomstandighede. (Tydsberekening is kritiek.)
Neem weervoorspeilings, waarskuwings en brandgevaarindikators in ag wanneer daar beplan word om voorbrande te maak. Die maak van voorbrande gedurende die nag behels ‘n laer risiko aangesien die omstandighede dan dikwels meer stabiel is. Raadpleeg ‘n kundige indien enigsins moontlik.

Voorbrande moet in die “regte” seisoen gemaak word.
Slaan ag op enige tydperke wanneer brande verbode mag wees, sowel as enige ander brand waarskuwings wat toepaslik mag wees oral in die land.

Moet nooit ‘n vuur in die buitelug aansteek, tensy u seker is dat u dit kan beheer nie.
Moet vuur nooit onderskat nie – en maak altyd seker dat u voidoende hulpbronne het soos personeel, water en brandbestrydingtoerusting.

Verseker dat u en u personeel bekwaam is in brandbestryding.

Wees pro-aktief. Tref alle moontlike voorsorgmaatreels ten einde te verseker dat brande nie versprei na aangrensende eiendom nie. Dit sal u beskerm teen siviele eise en kriminele aanspreeklikheid ingevolge die nuwe wetgewing wat tans van krag is.

Moet nooit ‘n brand agter- of onbewaak laat voordat dit heeltemal geblus is nie. Onverwagse winde kan dikwels veroorsaak dat brande weer opvlam. ‘n Deeglike “opruimingsoperasie” is dus nodig om ongewenste brande te voorkom.

Source: Die Veldbrandbulletin – Augustus 2002

Tortoises as Pets

Tortoises as Pets



Captivity can be a death sentence for a tortoise:

Wild animals seldom adapt well to captivity, even if they do live long or breed. Captivity can mean a slow death for some animals, particularly those with a specialised diet or habitat requirements.

Unwanted pet tortoises are often released in any field or park. This false freedom can be fatal because pet tortoises have become accustomed to captivity and battle to fend for themselves in their new environment.

All species of tortoises in the Western Cape are protected by the Nature Conservation Ordinance (Ord. no 19 of, 1974). Accordingly, no tortoise or part thereof (i.e. the shell) or tortoise eggs may be collected, transported, sold, received as a gift, given, kept in captivity, possessed, imported or exported. Species such as the geometric tortoise, which is classified as a threatened wild animal, have special protection. Although Cape Nature Conservation discourages keeping tortoises in captivity, people who wish to keep tortoises and who have suitable facilities, may apply for a permit.

Captivity has disadvantages:

  • Tortoises are adapted to a specific natural habitat. Their survival is dependent on the correct food and climate. When a tortoise is removed from its natural habitat, it can die because of the different conditions.
  • Pet tortoises are lost to the survival of the species in the wild.
  • Tortoises are often released in areas that are ecologically unsuitable and which fall beyond the species’ natural distribution. In these areas it is difficult for them to survive. In such cases these strange tortoises can transmit diseases to tortoises which naturally occur.
  • Tortoises released beyond their natural distribution range can inter-breed with local tortoises.
  • Pet tortoises suffer from parasites such as ticks and worms and may spread virus-borne diseases to healthy, natural populations.

Anyone with unwanted tortoises can contact Cape Nature Conservation to ensure that a suitable home is found for the animals. Please contact your local CAPE NATURE CONSERVATION offices for advice.

Source: Cape Nature Conservation


Aanhouding kan’n skilpad se doodsvonnis wees:

Wilde diere pas nooit ten voile aan by aanhou-ding nie, al leef hulle lank of al teel hulle selfs aan. Gevangenskap,mag in werklikheid ‘n sta-dige dood beteken vir sommige, veral die met ‘n gespesialiseerde dieet of habitatsvereistes.

Ongewenste troetelskilpaaie word soms in enige stuk veld of park afgelaai. Hierdie valse vryheid kan die skilpaaie se dood beteken aangesien troetelskilpaaie gewoond geraak het aan die toestande in aanhouding en hier moeiliker vir hulself kan sorg.

Alle skilpadsoorte in die Wes-Kaap word beskerm deur die Natuurbewaringsordonnansie (Qrd. no. 19 van 1974). Hiervolgens mag geen skilpad of deel daarvan (soos die dop) of skilpadeiers sender die nodige, permitte versamel, vervoer, gekoop, verkoop, as geskenk ontvang, gegee, aangehou, besit, in- of uitgevoer word nie. Skilpadsoorte soos die suurpootjie wat as bedreigde wilde dier geklassifiseer is, geniet spesiale beskerm-ing. Hoewel Kaapse Natuurbewaring die aanhou van skilpaaie ontmoedig kan mense wat graag skilpaaie wil aanhou en voldoende daarvoor ingerig is, aansoek doen vir ‘n permit.

Aanhouding het nadele:

  • Skilpaaie is aangepas vir ‘n spesifieke natuurlike habitat. Hul oorlewing word bepaal deur die regte kos en’klimaat. Wanneer ‘n skilpad uit sy natuurlike gebied verwyder word, kan hy sterf weens die veranderde omstandighede.
  • Skilpaaie wat as troeteldiere aangehou word, is verlore vir die oorlewing van die soort in die natuur.
  • Skilpaaie word dikwels vrygelaat in gebiede wat ekologies ohgeskik is en buite die skilpad se natuurlike verspreidingsgebied val. Hier oorleef hulle moeilik. Sulke vreemde skilpaaie kan siektes oordra na die skilpaaie wat wel natuurlik daar voorkom.
  • Skilpaaie wat buite hul verspreidingsgebied vrygelaat word, kan verbaster met die plaaslike skilpaaie.
  • Troetelskilpaaie het baie las van parasiete soos bosluise en wurms en kan virussiektes na gesonde natuurlike bevolkings oordra.

Enigeen wat ontslae wil rook van hul troetelskilpad kan Kaapse Natuurbewaring nader sodat ‘n geskikte tuiste daarvoor gevind kan word. Skakel asseblief  KAAPSE NATUURBEWARING vir advies.

Source: Kaapse Natuurbewaring

As boerdery en bewaring hande vat

As boerdery en bewaring hande vat



Die Gouritz Inisiatief (Gl) met die tema “bewaring van biodiversiteit”, het gekom om te bly. Maar wat beteken dit vir die inwoners van hierdie nywerheidsarm gebied wat hoofsaaklik van die landboubedryf afhanklik is? Swaar druk word op boerdery geplaas om die gebied te onderhou. Het vuisvoos volstruis- en ander boere wat sukkel om kop bo water te hou, binne ‘n ewigdurende veranderde omgewing met nuwe idees, nog ‘n nuwe bedreiging bygekry?

Die boerdery en verwante bedrywe beleef tans moeilike tye met die sterk rand en gevolglik swak uitvoerpryse, asook strenger wetgewing en vereistes vanuit ‘n binnelandse sowel as buitelandse politieke omgewing. Die vraag is: Bied die Gouritz Inisiatief ‘n uitkoms in hierdie moeilike tye? Die antwoord is ja. Dit bied beslis ander moontlikhede of alternatiewe (byvoorbeeld ekotoerisme).

Maar die mate waartoe die Gouritz Inisiatief daarin sal slaag om ‘n oplossing te bied, is direk afhanklik van die gehalte van vennootskappe wat daar tussen die verskillende bedrywe, owerhede, organisasies en plaaslike inwoners soos byvoorbeeld Landbou, Onderwys, Toerisme, plaaslike owerhede, Bewareas, Justisie, die volstruisbedryf, ens. gesluitword.


‘n Vennootskap is ‘n onderneming waarbinne twee of meer partye saamwerk ter bereiking van ‘n gemeenskaplike einddoel wat aanvullende hulpbronne saamvoeg om wedersydse rigting te bepaal of – om ‘n projek wat wedersydse voordeel inhou, te begin en suksesvol aan die gang te hou.

Mense met ooreenstemmende doelwitte kom bymekaar, om spesifieke kwessies aan te spreek. So word die beskikbare hulpbronne in terme van bekwaamhede saamgevoeg. Binne so ‘n vennootskap word werk en kennis gedeel. Die kapasiteit van die groep verhoog dus en take word mettertyd meer kostedoeltreffend afgehandel, omdat die nodigheid nie meer bestaan om inligting en hulpbronne te dupliseer nie.

Voor daar ‘n vennootskap aangegaan word, moet ‘n mens jouself afvra hoekom jy dit doen en wat jy uit hierdie vennootskap gaan kry. Met ander woorde, is dit die moeite werd vir jou?


Sterk vennootskappe is vir die Gouritz Inisiatief onontbeerlik as die einddoel bereik wil word. Hierdie vennootskappe moet. geïntegreerd wees met alle sektore wat belang mag hê. Daar moet dus bree deelname van sterk vennote wees. Hierdeur word die begrips- en redenasievermoë van die groep versterk. Verder is daar meer mense wat uit verskillende hoeke en perspektiewe na sake kan kyk om sodoende ingeligte, en weldeurdagte besluite te neem.

Deur hierdie werkswyse te volg, waar insette deur middel van plaaslike kennis op die grond gelewer word, word ‘n beter beeld van die situasie verkry. So byvoorbeeld word ‘n oningeligte individu met ‘n sterk persoonlikheid, wat uit ‘n subjektiewe oogpunt ‘n situasie in die verkeerde rigting mag stuur, beinvloed om ‘n geheelbeeld van al die aangeleenthede en probleme te verkry.

Die voordeel om geïntegreerd na probleme te kyk, is dat verskillende probleme oplossings vir ander kan bied.


Hierin bestaan ‘n groot potensiaal om goedkoper oplossings te verkry asook ‘n uitdaging dat probleme hulself kan oplos deurdat mense uit verskillende sektore netwerk en mekaar ondersteun. Dit is dus belangrik dat vennote nie net sal kyk watter voordeel daar vir hulself is nie, maar wat hulle vir almal na die tafel kan bring.

Hierdie onselfsugtige werkswyse bied ondersteuning en waardetoevoeging, waar moontlike leemtes binne die verskillende afdelings mag bestaan. So word hande gevat en die las saamgedra.


Die vennote moet terselfdertyd besef dat almal nie altyd volkome gelukkig sal wees nie. Die regte gesindheid en ingesteldheid met betrekking tot die groter prentjie is belangrik. Soms moet ‘n vennoot bereid wees om die argument vir die oomblik te verloor, sodat die einddoel bereik kan word.


Integriteit en betrokkenheid met passie, skep sekerlik die grootste resep vir konflik, maar dit skep ook die platform vir suksesvolle onderhandeling. Sodoende beland al die moeilike en sensitiewe kwessies vir bespreking en afhandeling op die tafel. Lede kan openlik met mekaar redeneer en van mekaar verskil. Soms moet mense ooreenkom, dat hulle nie altyd kan saamstem oor alles nie.

Mense mag verskil, dit mag egter nie die verhouding tussen lede beïnvloed nie. Dit word veral bemoeilik omdat vennootskappe vrywillig is en die doel daarvan binne die Gouritz Inisiatief juis is om saam die hoofdoel te bereik.

Daar is dus nie plek vir lede wat slegs daarna streef om hul eie eer te soek of om eie mishope te bou nie.


Vennootskappe hoef nie net vir beplanning aangewend te word nie, maar word veral getoets by die implementeringsfase, waar projekte uitgevoer word. By die implementering word daar van lede verwag om drywers te wees. So ‘n drywer is iemand wat nie bang vir frustrasies en probleme is nie. Dit is iemand wat self sy moue oprol en direk in die veld betrokke raak om toe te sien dat die dinge op die grond gebeur.

Drywers is mense met praktiese ondervinding, wat taak ge- orienteerd is en nie bang is om foute te maak nie. Hulle leer uit foute en bou op suksesse. Vir sterk drywers moet daar egter ‘n gedragskode binne vennootskappe bestaan waar lede hulself tot die ander se voordeel verbind en mekaar se integriteit hierin bewaar.


Goeie vennootskappe binne die Gouritz Inisiatief sal mense, wat ‘n belang het by die bewaring van hierdie unieke gebied, in staat stel om probleme doeltreffend aan te spreek. Befondsing vir die bewaring van biodiversiteit kan sodoende doeltreffend beding word. Om volhoubaarheid binne die gebied te verseker, moet daar nie net na bewaring gekyk word nie, maar moet besigheidsekonomie en sosiale verpligting ook aangespreek word.

Dus, samewerking tussen vennote is die sleutel tot werkbare oplossings wat die eksterne druk op die bepaalde gebied die hoof kan bied.


Selfs al klink ‘n vennootskap tussen boer en bewaarder na ‘n amperse onmoontlikheid, is dit juis een van die belangrikste doelstellings wat met hierdie bewaringsinisiatief nagestreef word. Want dis net deur hande te vat dat sterk vennootskappe gevestig kan word om uiteindelik bewaringsprojekte te help realiseer.

Dis net deur met vennote openhartig te gesels en idees en planne uit te ruil en ook deur te luister na mekaar se probleme dat ons uiteindelik gemeenskaplike oplossings tussen mede-vennote sal vind.

Source: Jan Smit

GI Unique and Diverse

GI Unique and Diverse


Gamkaberg Conservation area

The Gamkaberg Conservation Area is one of the most unique and diverse areas on earth. Not only biologically (the plants and animals), but the geological and fossil history is also fascinating. Some of the rocks here are more than 750 million years old and the marine invertebrate fossils date back to about 360 million years ago when this entire area was covered by the ocean. Add to this, the highest peaks in the Western Cape, and the picture begins to unfold.

Rock art

The record of early man, with artefacts dating back to the early stone age when stone tools were still the order of the day, and the more recent Khoisan rock art which is abundant in the rock shelters in the mountains, also adds to this richness.

Five biomes

Crab Spider catches Bee

It is for this reason that the Gouritz Catchment has been identified by conservation planners as one of the areas in the Western Cape for the development of a special Initiative the Gl (Gouritz initiative). (The other area is the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity corridor). The Gl domain stretches from the Great Karoo to the sea, using the Gouritz River and its tributaries as the backbone. Five of the seven Biomes in South Africa are also included in this Gouritz area; Forest, Succulent Karoo, Valley Bushveld (thicket), Fynbos, Nama- Karoo. This is unequalled in any Conservation Area in the country.


This Gouritz Initiative is not a massive State owned reserve, but one made up of partnerships between private landowners and existing nature reserves. Landowners are not expected to down tools but rather to adopt conservation conscious farming methods and where possible, to set aside portions of conservation worthy land to be carefully protected. Tourism is also high on the agenda, once again looking at establishing partnerships with the local communities to provide the services, so that everyone benefits from the initiative.

Migratory routes

The whole idea of the Gouritz initiative is to allow plants and animals to migrate North-South and East-West through long term as well as seasonal climate change.

More about the plants

The Fynbos and Succulent Karoo which are the dominant vegetation types in the area, are receiving international attention due to their high numbers of plant species and the fact that most of these are uniquetothearea.

Funding benefits

Another benefit to the community is that Conservation Organisations are providing funding for conservation projects in the Gouritz Initiative area. For example, we have recently employed more than 50 previously unemployed persons on maintenance and alien plant eradication projects.

Zebras on a ridge

Cape Mountan Zebra

The Gamkaberg Conservation Area is one of the core areas of this Gouritz Initiative. It was established in 1974 to conserve a naturally occurring population of the endangered Cape Mountain Zebra. Unfortunately before any protection could be put in place, the herd was reduced to 5 animals. Today, almost 30 years later, the numbers have only reached 35. We need additional habitat for theses animals as the present reserve confines them to a small section of the mountain and they need to move onto the flats, as well as East-West along the mountain, according to the seasonal changes in the vegetation. The Gouritz Initiative will help address problems like this. Another animal, which will be positively affected, is the leopard, which is hanging on in the remote mountain areas although they are still regularly trapped illegally by stock farmers.

Western Cape Nature Conservation Board (WCNCB)

WCNCB is prepared to enter into contractual agreements with landowners in key areas. This would entail management of the area by WCNCB while the landowner would retain access and certain development rights. A number of stewardship options exist which can be tailored to suit the needs of the landowner.

Endless opportunities

For anyone interested in contributing towards a worthy biodiversity conservation project, the opportunities in the Gamkaberg Conservation Area are endless. Time is however running out so lets stand together and make a success of this while we still can.

Source: Tom Barry