JUST a few weeks after the GO! & Express exposed the dreary state of the Umtiza Nature Reserve in the Buffalo Pass area, rife with illegal dumping, Buffalo City Municipality (BCM) has seemingly attempted to “sweep the problem under the carpet.”
Uncovered by East London handyman Trevor Watson, who recently revisited the area, the Umtiza Nature Reserve remains a dumping ground, with little sign of any improvement.
“I took a drive through the Buffalo Pass area again last week and was horrified at what I saw,” said Watson.
“BCM must have sent a grader to push the rubbish away from the road and into the bush and in some places over the edge of the ravine. All that this has done is cleared a place for new illegal dumping to take place,” he explained.
According to East London Museum scientist Kevin Cole, the Umtiza Forest, apart from being home to the endemic umtiza listeriana tree, is also home to a unique monkey species known as the Sykes’ monkey.
“In the past a significant area contained in the Umtiza Nature Reserve was lost to agriculture so it is extremely important for us to conserve the ecological integrity of what is left,” explained Cole.
He said the Umtiza Nature Reserve was largely undervalued and underutilised and it boasts the potential to be a great eco-tourism attraction.
“The large-scale illegal dumping taking place has a massive negative impact on the environmental stability of the whole area, not to mention the Buffalo River system that runs through the reserve,” said Cole.
Watson previously mentioned that rugged policing by people empowered to arrest and prosecute those caught in the act of illegal dumping was desperately needed to curb the scourge of illegal dumping.
Cole’s suggestions similarly include the establishment of an anti-dumping unit and dedicated hotline number by Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) and BCM.
“A visible presence dedicated to patrolling and protecting areas such as the nature reserve, is the most practical way to achieve short-term success.”
“In the long run, however, a major re-commitment to effecting environmental legislation needs to be seen,” said Cole.
Watson and Cole are also working on the possibility of having a big walk through the nature reserve in an effort to bring this issue to the attention of as many people as possible.