This year the East London Museum is continuing in its efforts to have local nature reserves gazetted at provincial level.
The Nahoon Point Nature Reserve and the Amalinda Nature Reserve are important sites for beauty, biodiversity, and heritage.
The two reserves were proclaimed in 2004 and 1968 respectively but their status as protected areas are tenuous given that municipal will and capacity to protect these areas is absent.
This can be curbed once the reserves are officially proclaimed provincial nature reserves.
Importantly, once an area is conserved there is protection extended to life forms whose existence in the area may only be realised later.
If the Nahoon Point nature reserve is gazetted at provincial level then protection for a new species locality of the Natal black snake found at Nahoon, can be strengthened.
The Nahoon Point nature reserve is a unique part of the continent and is one of the larger sandstone outcrops on the Southern African coast making it the best place in this part of the country to find fossils of footprints dating back thousands of years.
It is also one of the only coastal areas left in the country with 300ha of undeveloped beach sprawl comparable only to Cape Point. Leaders from the Khoi community, such as Joseph Kreeling, said that the East bank side of Nahoon Point ties the area directly to the rich history indigenous people.
“Bats Cave was used by Khoi people to fish from because they would crush oyster and mussel shells to spread this into the water to attract fish for hunting.
“I am sure that once we get this area provincially protected, we will be able to learn more about our local history.”
Principal scientist, Kevin Cole said, “Sadly the Amalinda Nature Reserve is a tarnished biodiversity jewel of East London and when the transition of Cape Nature proclaimed reserves were handed over to a different conservation authority the Amalinda Nature Reserve was abandoned and treated as a public open space by all authorities concerned.
“Many years ago, the museum tried to negotiate the use of the Amalinda Nature Reserve for outsourced environmental education initiatives.
“The reserve was home to a thriving fish hatchery, one of the top in the country at the time.
“Some large mammal species such as zebra and eland and a unique refuge for a number of indigenous plants and smaller animal species including bushbuck, Cape clawless otter and porcupine,” Cole said.
“Approximately 175 species of birds have been recorded there including some special sightings such as the marsh warbler, olive and orange breasted bush-shrike, chorister robin-chat, red-capped robin-chat and malachite kingfisher.
“White-backed duck and African jacana were occasionally sighted at the old fish dams.
“Closely situated to many hundreds of school pupils, particularly from more impoverished schools, the reserve was ideally placed to offer an exceptional outdoor experience to pupils.
“The avitourism potential of the Amalinda Nature reserve has also been lost to the city as the area is unsafe,” Cole said.
In 2021/22, the department of forestry, fisheries and environment confirmed that SA’s land under conservation had increased by 680,532 ha, bringing the total to 16,64% of land now under formal conservation.
SA recently added two wetlands to the country’s number of wetlands of international importance — the Ingula Nature Reserve in the Drakensberg mountain range and the Berg estuary in the Western Cape.
According to the department of environmental affairs and tourism, SA’s rapid industrialisation, population growth and urbanisation pose a threat to the quality of the environment. One of the main conservation problems is SA’s excessively high population growth.
Cole said “The major hurdle for the proclamation of the Nahoon Point Nature Reserve has been that a survey of all erven to be incorporated into a consolidated plan detailing the boundaries of the reserve has to be undertaken.
“This matter has dragged on for years but just in the past week a new initiative to get the survey undertaken was tabled and a plan of action proposed which has the encouraging end result of having a map drawn up to fulfil the proclamation requirements for the areas in question to be gazetted as the Nahoon Point Nature Reserve.”