03 June, 2014

Baviaanskloof, and on to Willowmore

 - gardening for biodiversity 
in Cape Town, South Africa

We were planning to go to Baviaanskloof from Addo-today-we-have-warthogs but that was when the mountain fire brought us home in hurry. In December 2010 we did go to the Baviaanskloof Conservation Area, which is 189,000 ha. We start at the east end

The road less travelled

We needed a permit and a high-clearance vehicle for this route. Through 12 river crossings and over mountain passes. Feeling adventurous. Until an African taxi, loaded with people and pulling a trailer of luggage, passed us, heading for the city of Port Elizabeth.

Leopard-friendly in Baviaanskloof
with onion for seeds (the surrounding mountains prevent contamination)
and 'mutton' resting in the shade of the thorn-tree 

We are vegetarian, but the Karoo is famous for its mutton. The sheep browse on Karoo bossies, including wild rosemary. On the mountain slopes above the farms are wild leopards. Waging a running battle against gin-traps. This is the leopard-friendly mutton you can buy in our Woolworth’s shops. Nature conservation breeds Anatolian sheep-dogs, who keep the leopards safely away

We stop carefully for tortoises

Owl rock in Baviaanskloof
Hers and his

I leaned, to show you My Owl.

The Baviaanskloof River 

Baviaanskloof was created to conserve many different vegetation types, including fynbos with pincushion proteas Leucospermum cuneiforme on ‘some remarkably flat plateaus, part of what is known as the African Land Surface’ from Baviaans geology.

Cotyledon velutina (thanks to Kumbula Nursery for the plant ID)
with a Noorsveld succulent

Proteas in Baviaanskloof
Pincushion Leucospermum cuneiforme and a pink Leucadendron

‘The Baviaanskloof Subtropical Thicket Restoration Pilot Project. Planting spekboom/Portulacaria cuttings in a wide variety of degraded thicket types and across a climatic gradient. Environmental factors affecting spekboom survival are investigated by:
Fencing some sites to exclude herbivores 
Planting spekboom at different densities, or different sized cuttings

Burning fossil fuels across the planet appears to be linked to global warming. All signatories to the Kyoto Protocol have agreed to reduce greenhouse gases. Developing countries can sell sequestered carbon (removed from the atmosphere and stored in plants) 
Spekboom grows rapidly and sequesters large amounts of carbon dioxide in the process. This pilot project aims to establish how much carbon can be sequestered by restoring degraded thicket, using cost effective methods, but also ensuring that biodiversity returns to this landscape.’ 

We work to reduce our own carbon footprint by planting spekboom cuttings wherever our garden offers gaps.

Baviaans Subtropical Thicket Restoration Project
The First World's Carbon Credits in action
To the left of the solar-powered electric fence, enclosed against browsing herbivores

Baviaanskloof is named for the baboons.

Baboons of Baviaanskloof

Baviaanskloof road
Bottom left Grasnek Mountain Pass

Hope we return here one day. The Willow Historical Guest House. Built as the Victorian home of the Dutch Reformed minister. We dined, alone, in the original dining-room. Accommodation for guests is newly built, but using architectural salvage doors and windows. So we got both the charm and the comfort!   

Willowmore Hotel

Willowmore is the western end of Baviaanskloof.


Pictures by Jurg and Diana Studer  
of  Elephant's Eye on False Bay 

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  1. Enjoyed this Baviaanskloof adventure, even though the wild leopards sound scary. P. x

    1. Elusive and nocturnal, it would be a huge privilege to actually see a wild leopard!

  2. Leopard-friendly mutton: I never thought I would hear that phrase. What a fascinating place! The plant with the bell-shaped flowers is fascinating!

    1. the bell is a much more flamboyant relative of this http://eefalsebay.blogspot.com/2013/07/pigs-ears-and-blotanical-2.html
      Cotyledon orbiculata

  3. Oh how I wish I had a vehicle to drive through Baviaanskloof with

  4. Great adventurous stuff, all showing how very different our world is. Off to do some mundane planting in the border.

  5. Diana what a beautiful, wild place with so much thought about conservation...I love the owl rock and the idea of the spekboom planting.

  6. What a fantastic adventure ! Just the thought of a tortoise crossing the road in front of you is wild !

  7. Diana, your landscape shots are breathtaking. I have such vague ideas of what Africa should look like. Never having been there or really knowing too much about it. It's amazing to me to actually see all those mountains and peaks and lush growth.