Shifting Baselines

Outramps CREW Diaries Tuesday 13th November 2018
Shifting Baselines
13th November 2018

An update from Peter - who is part of HAT
I had a 26km trail run with 2600m elevation gain across Jonkershoek on Saturday the 3rd of Nov. We started at 4am and ventured up Botmaskop, from where we followed the watershed up to the saddle (aptly named Saaltjie) before Square Tower Peak. Here, half the party headed down to Jonkershoek, while Oliver, Martin and I headed on for Square Tower Peak and Pieke.

It was great to see masses of Edmondia pinifolia, Oldenburgia intermedia, Kumara haemanthifolia and Erica viscaria subsp. longifolia all the way, but my hope was to find Protea rupicola (Endangered). The historical records talk of Protea rupicola all the way from Pieke to Rifberg and Katedraal, yet I've never been able to find a single plant! This time proved to be no different and definitely not for a lack of trying. This was my 5th time up Pieke and my 2nd time up both Rifberg and Katedraal. Clearly I need to take some time to explore the southern rock faces of these intimidating mountains and not just the watershed.

From Pieke we headed to Rifberg, at which point my energy levels were fading quite fast. I strongly considered turning off at Slabs, but Oliver and Martin motivated me onward to Katedraal. By the time we made it to Bergriviernek, it was clear I wasn't able to retain fluids and I started to vomit - this continued all the way down to Witbrug. Luckily, a friendly couple gave me a lift back to Stellies, but at this point it became apparent that I was suffering from severe dehydration. I unfortunately ended up at the hospital with a drip.... all in all a humbling experience and a true test of my limits! I should probably have paid more attention to my electrolytes and protein intake...

Nevertheless, it was a great trip, with brutal terrain, crazy elevations, stunning views and many high altitude endemics. I'm already planning a trip up Katedraal and across to Banhoekpiek, which is rumoured to house Protea rupicola.


Alien Busting at Diosma Reserve 6 November 2018
Last week the alien clearing at the Diosma Reserve was cancelled due to peripheral fire chaos all around us and high fire danger in our area. A series of morning showers this week on Diosma Day – and again we had to scupper the good intentions.

By lunchtime the weather had cleared and we got going at last! Kei and Erich did a splendid job of cutting down the bigger Port Jacksons (Acacia saligna) whilst I handpulled loads of Rooikrans (Acacia cyclops) seedlings. A Jangroentjie (Malachite sunbird) kept me company and I was chuffed to see an angulate tortoise deep in the reserve for the first time since the fire.

In flower mostly the yellows: Bobartia robusta, Senecio ilicifolia, Carpobrotus edulis, Carpobrotus muirii (Near Threatened))and the resprouting Agathosma. Jan Vlok took delivery of a stukkie at the GCBR Forum meeting - “Ek het nie nou my brille by my nie, sal jou laat weet!” Dankie solank, Jan!
Sandra and the Fransmanshoek manne Kei and Erich

Dune Molerat Trail

2nd November 2018
On Friday, four Outramps (Mike, Gail, Rusell and I) and one guest (Bridget Randall) did part of The Dune. The surrounding fires made the air very smoky, but the moderate temperature meant reasonably pleasant hiking conditions.

We started along the concrete path. Not much was in flower after the extremely hot and dry winds of the previous week, but we did find a Carissa bispinosa shrub and a Pterocelastrus tricuspidatus tree in full flower and an Aspalathus spinosa plant provided a welcome patch of yellow in a clearing. We then headed along the ridge into the senescent Fynbos. Here there was a bit more colour. Yellow Ursinia chrysanthemoides, Cullumia carlinoides (NT), Aspalathus kougaensis and Hypoxis villosa, orange Leonotis ocymifolia and Passerina rigida, pink Senecio elegans, Pelargonium betulinum, Ruschia duthiae (VU) and Polygala ericaefolia still had some flowers. Agathosma capensis and Agathosma apiculata flowers were keeping the insects busy.

On the descent, I found a single leaf of Nanobubon hypogaeum (EN). There was very little of note to see along the boundary fence other than a few patches of purple Geranium incanum and a single Acrolophia cochlearis plant. The Cytinus growing on some of the Passerina plants in the valley were brown and crisp, having flowered quite a while ago.

Although not looking its best, the Dune Molerat Trail continues to provide an interesting morning outing.


Shifting Baselines

Things change. Matching memory to current status quo.

As a little girl: I remember the Outeniqua pass with dripping water everywhere and the ‘manne’ with their knees covered in velvety green blankets, the Touw river’s tea-colour water at Ebb & Flow as always tidal, always clear. Mid primary school: Seeing at least five chameleons a day in George. The late 1990’s in urban Mossel Bay: Two tortoises a day and once a week a chameleon, and iconic Mossel Bay plants – every day.

The ivy-leaved geranium, Pelargonium peltatum, is one of these. Being just too gorgeous it enticed me to explore the north facing road verges in Mossel Bay central. This pelargonium is the great great great grandmother of all the ivy-leaved geraniums cascading from window and flower boxes all over the world. I love to think that ‘she’ came from Mossel Bay. The Afrikaans common name, ‘kolsuring’ and not ‘malva’ always puzzled me until an outing onto the St Blaize Trail with Sao Bras High School wildlife club learners. Close to the impressive cliffs some youngsters tore away, yelling. To our relief, the decibels were not to announce some cliff fatality but merely ‘Veldkos!’ as they discovered this pelargonium and promptly started shoving the leaves into their mouths like sweets! It has a lovely tangy taste – hence the ‘suring’ (sorrel) and ‘kol’ for the circle on the leaf.

The road verges: A road cut cliff face and slopes with cliff clutchers and ‘walhangers’ ranging from coastal thicket to Karroid elements. The cliff with a suburban road above and tannies making fyntuin, the other a slope and a growing township fringe, goats, a man with a digging stick and degradation.

The road cut cliff: Euphorbia mauritanica, E. burmannii– buzzing with bees, E. heptagona, Crassula perforata, C. capitella, Senecio radicans, Eriocephalus africanus, Aloe ferox, Rhoicissus digitata, Lycium cinerium, Searsia crenata, Zygophyllum morgsana, Kleinia ficoides, a Glottiphyllum – probably mixed ancestry courtesy roads dept, Sideroxylon inerme, Schotia afra var. afra, Putterlickia pyracantha, Searsia pterota, Carissa bispinosa, Azima tetracantha, Ipomoea cairica, Cynanchum viminale and ignored bright pink vygies. Most of this beautifully festooned by the rapidly increasing, but attractive tufts of the invader fountain grass, Pennisetum setaceum. Below the township slope the same Euphorbia species, Aloe maculata, Cotyledon orbiculata, Chrysocoma ciliata, Pteronia incana and Atriplex semibaccata were in flower.

Being road verges (and railway line), disturbance is expected, but it comes with an impressive and disheartening array of listed invasive alien plants. Lantana camara, Nicotiana glauca, a large stand of Agave americana, Cestrum laevigatum, Ricinis communis, Arundo donax, Nasturtium officinale and Rapistrum rugosum.

Pretending to be wearing a cloak, which renders me invisible next to a busy road, did not quite work so well after a while. I start noticing unwelcome hoots and whistles and the traffic. It takes me back to match my memories to the late 1990’s when there used to be lots of Septemberbos and Duinesalie, Polygala myrtifolia and Salvia africana-lutea, along the road verges, two iconic Mossel bay plants. Not anymore. I guess like the now velvety black knees of the Outeniquas the baseline is shifting in my dear Mossel Bay too.
7 November 2018


Herolds Bay with WAGS
A report from (HAT) Evie
A glorious morning out with WAGS in the coastal Fynbos at Herold’s Bay. With the Outeniquas burnt and no Fynbos on their slopes, I am not sure when I will do the real HAT( high altitude) outings again. After all the stress, smoke and general dangers of the fires and winds during the last 8 days – it was such a pleasure to be out in a fresh South Easter blowing cool fresh air inland.

Walking westward out of Herolds Bay – a super stretch of coastal Fynbos following the rocks and cliff tops with distant views of the coastline. Good colours in among the green – plenty of cream coloured Oxalis flowers, a small patch of white Ornithogalum dubium; Passerina obtusifolia at its flowering best; some Erica discolor ssp. discolor and Erica imbricata. Dotted here and there were pretty low growing plants of Polygala ericaefolia. Loads of sunshine yellow daisies as well as shimmering vygies added to the overall colour of the morning. The bulbs generally remained hidden – 2 Orchid stalks in bud – not sure what they will turn out to be!


Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve Forum Meeting The Granary, Bartholomeu Dias Museum, Mossel Bay
7 November2018

Disclaimer: All the presentations were just perfect. Merely a synopsis below, any mistakes would be mine!

The excellent line up arranged as usual by AnneLise Schutte-Vlok was well attended and started with Tersia Marais of S.M.A.R.T. The ‘Smarties’ volunteers of the Stranded Marine Animal Rescue Team deal with strandings of seals, seal pups, dolphins, whales, sea birds and penguins and turtles on beaches from Gouritz to Wilderness. Rescue, training, education, rehabilitation, networking, fundraising and beach clean ups are done. In recent times more and more out of range seals have been arriving on Mossel Bay’s shores, a stranded starving whale and calf highlights overfishing and the constant stream of mutilated marine creatures entangled in all kinds of matter emphasize that we need to seriously rethink and address our careless disposal of waste, use of plastics and pollutants. Follow S.M.A.R.T on Facebook, become a volunteer, keep their number at hand and support them financially. They are real eco-heroes in Mossel Bay.

As the current fires are being mopped up Dr Tineke Kraaij of Nelson Mandela University presented research on factors that influenced the severity of the 2017 Knysna fires. An analysis of the landscape and vegetation types, long term climatic conditions, short term weather factors, the effect of alien plants in the landscape, the role of fire suppression, subsequent research on flammability and measurements of fuel moisture content of plant material. Correlations were done with 40 years of weather data available from George. This shows that the prevailing weather conditions at the time of the Knysna fire appear at ± three–year intervals. However, the drought conditions were the most severe for the 40 year period of weather data. Satellite imagery was analysed to track the path of the fire, its intensity and determine the completeness of burn in the landscape and different vegetation types. Fifty per cent of the Knysna fire was in aliens and plantations (fire-prone Fynbos habitat), 25% in Fynbos, 2% in thicket and 4% in forest. This is by no means a complete reflection of Tineke’s interesting content, but gives a clearer understanding of the event and is moving closer to the development of predictive fire danger indices.

Lately there is the perplexing phenomenon of giraffes in the Karoo and the research of Eugéne Marais, University of Stellenbosch, show that although giraffes can survive in the Karoo, there is a much bigger picture to be considered, with more research required. The natural southerly distribution range of this charismatic herbivore is the Orange River. Livestock farms in the Karoo convert to game farms and stock various herbivores without extensive scientific studies to underpin decisions. Giraffes feed 30-48kg daily at a browse height of 1.8 - 4.6m. They are generalist browsers, but favour certain species (such as Acacias). In the Karoo that would be the in the river catchments where Vachellia karroo (before Acacia karroo or soetdoring) is found as seasonal browse. Karoo plants developed without this type browsing. Plants respond by producing secondary metabolites such as hydrogen cyanide (causes acute poisoning) and condensed tannins (high levels of tannins cannot be digested and can lead to gradual loss of condition). There have been unexplained deaths of giraffes in apparent good condition on some farms which requires further studies. Overall it is found that Karoo vegetation produces and maintains very, very high levels of tannins in response to browsing which in turn affects other herbivores negatively. As there is limited browse available, browsing pressure is continuous; this in turn creates greater susceptibility to disease for the browsed plants. There is the good, bad and unknown to having these charismatic herbivores in the Karoo.

Listening to Rudolph Röscher of LandCare touching on the huge collaboration to restore the upper Breede catchment through UBEG (Upper Breede Collaborative Extension Group), I was wondering if one could at best clone, even better, hijack him for our area. The work done is BIG and comes a long way - real actions and outcomes – much of it fuelled by a Friday get together – lunch, wine, meeting after! There is a roll out of alien plant clearing in the catchment; next contractors follow to cut the wood, which is then processed in a sequence - biofuel, wood chips as mulch and biochar. SMME’s are set up. Landowners are mobilised and cross departmental delivery of actions attained. A large nursery is up and running and puts plants back into the system where invasive alien plants had been cleared.

Post clearing of alien invasive plants at Wolseley has already resulted in less flooding and a two week extension to available water supply. This is a multi-tiered involvement and action with many lessons learnt along the way. It was interesting that Eugene ended his talk by listing Stephen Covey’s principles: Be pro-active; Begin with the end in mind; Put first things first; Focus on relationships; Trust – the highest form of human motivation; Clarify expectations – Seek first to understand.
Rudolph advocates the use of CapeFarmMapper which gives one access to maps and spatial database layers such as boundaries, conservation, agriculture, groundwater and so on.

Now I’m wondering. Anyone for Friday lunch?

Mapping of severely transformed spekboomveld in the Calizdorp-Oudtshoorn area for spekboom restoration purposes was done by Jan Vlok of Regalis Environmental Services for the GCBR. Severely transformed areas are defined as having less than 10% of spekboom canopy cover. Jan found 13 200ha out of 120 000ha severely transformed. Restoration intervention would be required. Less transformed areas can recover in time, provided proper veld management is in place. Jan says that spekboom does not grow in calcrete, alluvial soils and heuweltjies (those fairy circles seen on aerial photographs & caused by termites). Lately he has noticed that a higher prevalence of granaatbosse, Rhigozum obovatum (these are covered in yellow flowers shortly after rain), is an indicator of lost spekboom veld.

About a thousand plants can be planted in a hectare. With 80% unemployment in the area this could be an incredible opportunity for the local population. Let’s hold thumbs for them. During question time Jan explained that one can expect a survival success rate of as high as 70% of planted, unrooted cuttings (60cm long cuttings in holes 15cm deep). From experience I know that those holes are incredibly hard to dig….. done under duress after a GCBR Forum meet at Vanwyksdorp! ;-)



To Di from Dave Underwood
One of the plants you collected at Kouga River in September appears to be Phylica abietina - a new one for me and the first posting of same on iNat.
Nice one.....!

A reminder of the guided walk at Brenton this week, a fringe event of the VERGE Art for Species exhibition, Old Goal, Knysna. Finn Rautenbach of the Garden Route Botanical Garden opened the Art exhibition Saturday evening – actually he was just awesome ;-). I loved the art. Nicky, Fred and I could feel the collective energy and intent of the project. Awesome work Janet Botes, curator and driving force! Wishing you and the artists on-going momentum in supporting local species on the brink!

Members of Outramps have organised a 1,2km botanical walk through the endangered Knysna Sand Fynbos at Ocean View on Thursday 15th November as part of VERGE (A group exhibition for IUCN red listed species on the Cape coast, Garden Route and Karoo, in South Africa) More details can be found at: .

It was still mostly scorched sand at the Diosma Reserve in Mossel Bay (after the 7th June, 2017 fire) when a buchu resprouted in several patches. At last it is in flower! Jan Vlok “Ek het jou plantjie goed bekyk en is nog 99.3% seker dat dit Agathosma dielsiana is.” Dankie Jan!! I was ever so slightly worried that the stukkies in his shirt pocket might land up in the washing machine! ;-)


Forthcoming Field Trips
With almost everything in close proximity burned, we are heading for the Swartberg on Friday to (hopefully) see how the Orchids and Cyclopias are faring.
Hamba Kahle
Groete en dankie

Di Turner
Outramps CREW Group
Southern Cape

All id’s subject to confirmation by Doc Annelise and Jan Vlok, Steven Molteno, Dr Tony Rebelo, Nick Helme, Prof Charlie Stirton, Dr Robert Archer, Dr Robert McKenzie, Dr Ted Oliver, Dr Christopher Whitehouse, Adriaan Grobler, Prix Burgoyne, Dr Kenneth Oberlander, Dr Pieter Winter, Dr David Gwynne-Evans and Mattmatt on iNat. Thank you all for your ongoing help and support.

Outramps Places on iNaturalist – You can browse through the observations or refer to the checklist which is in alphabetical order eg. Animals, birds etc.
Cola Conservancy -
Dune Molerat Trail -
Featherbed Nature Reserve -
Gouriqua -
Heaven in the Langkloof -
Herolds Bay -
Kammanassie -
Klein Swartberg -
Knysna - Westford Bridge
Kouga Mountains Kliphuis -
Kranshoek -
Langeberg Grootvadersbosch -
Masons Rust -
Mons Ruber and surrounds -
Mossel Bay Aalwyndal -
Mossel Bay Diosma Reserve -
Mossel Bay - :

Mossel Bay -
Mossel Bay -
Mossel Bay St Blaize Trail -
Natures Valley -
Outeniquas Bobbejaanberg -
Outeniquas Camferskloof -
Outeniquas Doringrivier East -
Outeniquas East -
Outeniquas Eseljagt -
Outeniquas Eseljagtpoort -
Outeniquas Flanagans Rock -
Outeniquas Lange Berg -
Outeniquas Paardekop -
Outeniquas Paardepoort East -
Outeniquas Paardepoort West -
Outeniquas Southern Traverse -
Rooiberg -
Spioenkop -
Strawberry Hill -
Swartberg Spitskop -
Uitzicht Portion 39 -
Uitzicht -
Western Head -
Western Head –
Western Head -
Western Head -
White Heather -
Wilderness Brown Hooded Kingfisher Trail –
Wilderness Kingfisher Trail -
Witteberg Kromme Rivier -

Outramps Projects on iNaturalist
Lianes and Creepers in the Southern Cape and Little Karoo -

Veg Types of South Africa -

Abbreviations Glossary

MCSA – Mountain Club of South Africa
MSB - Millenium Seed Bank based at Kew in the UK
WIP – Work in Progress
HAT – High Altitude Team
LOT – Lowland Team
SIM – Somewhere in the Middle Team
WAGS – Wednesday Adventure Group
VB – Vlok Boekie “Plants of the Klein Karoo” and our Plant Bible
ITRTOL – Another thread “In The Rich Tapestry Of Life”(It describes a challenging situation, usually to do with the Buchu Bus)
ITFOT – In the fullness of time
WOESS – Fair Weather Hiker
FMC and JW – too vulgar to translate, but the equivalent is “Strike me Dead” - An expression of surprise and delight on finding a new “Rare”
Kambro – same as above
Fossick – A meter per minute, scratching around looking for rares
SIDB – Skrop in die Bos – Another name for a field trip, this one coined by Prix
BAFFING – Running round like a blue-arsed fly
SYT – Sweet Young Thing - Anyone under the age of 40
TOMB – Get a move on
Mayhem - Needless or willful damage or violence
SESKRYNG – “Sit en staan kry niks gedaan” ,with thanks to Brian
SOS – Skelms on Scramblers
FW – Idiot
BOB – Another name for the Buchu Bus when she’s misbehaving.
CRAFT – A symptom of Old Age
DDD - Metalasia tricolor (Damned Diabolical Daisy)
VP – Vrekplek – Retirement Village
Qàq – Self-explanatory Inuit word describing some of our local problems
Mr Fab – Our Fabaceae specialist, Brian Du Preez – originally Boy 1
Muisvoel -The Mathematician – Peter Thompson
Boy 2 – Kyle Underwood who works on Orchids and is still at school
Sharkie – Finn Rautenbach – Our latest SYT is a surfer in his spare time and is now the Curator of the Garden Route Botanical Garden
Sicko – Someone who suffers from Car Sickness. With 4 in the Group, allocating seating in the Buchu Bus is tricky
VAG – Virgin Active Garage, which is our meeting place when we head north
MATMUE – Meet At The Mall Under E - Meeting place when we head West
WG – Waves Garage in Wilderness East. - Meeting place when we’re going east.
VU- Vulnerable
DDT – Data Deficient and Taxonomically ?
NT – Near Threatened
EN – Endangered
CR – Critically Endangered
PE – Presumed extinct
LC – Least Concern
TBC – To be Confirmed
TLC – Tender loving care
JMS – An expression of absolute disdain
FOMO – Fear of Missing Out
Milk – the fruit of the vine
Condensed Milk – Scotland’s finest export
Full Cream Milk or Fat Milk – Any product of Humulus lupulus eg. Milk Stout
Milk of the Gods – Rooibos and Brandy
Milk Shake - Sparkling Wine
NS – Species of conservation concern new to the Outramps
PS -Priority Species allocated to the Outramps by our CREW Cape Co-ordinator , Ismail Ebrahim
iNatFD – iNaturalist for Dummies as compiled by Sally
Mizzle – Mist and drizzle combined. A regular feature of George in the ”good old days”.
FE – Fire Ephemeral – only appears immediately or after a couple of years after fire
Squirrel – aka President Ramaphosa
WOG – Wrath of God – eg. incurred when you put a young Pine tree on iNat as Leucadendron album
Skedonk - A banger - old, battered motor car more than 30 years old
Hoedown - redneck gathering, usually involves shouting catchy phrases like "yee-haw" and "the south will rise again"
VHF - Vat Hom Fluffie - our nickname for furry or woolly plants
OTL - Out To Lunch is used to describe the Buchu Bus when she's taking a break after she's behaved badly

הועלה ב-נובמבר 13, 2018 05:47 לפנה"צ על ידי outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi


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