Keeping it wild in Cederberg
Love our Trails recently partnered with the Cederberg Conservancy and Driehoek Guest Farm to host an extraordinary event called “Keeping it Wild in Cederberg.” This groundbreaking gathering brought together more than 150 individuals, including researchers, scientists, conservationists, and outdoor enthusiasts, who shared a common purpose: to exchange stories, acquire knowledge, and take action in order to preserve the Cederberg region.
The event took place at Driehoek Guest Farm, nestled in the heart of the Cederberg, where participants spent a weekend camping amidst the breathtaking surroundings. Each evening was enriched with captivating talks delivered by dedicated researchers and passionate conservationists. As attendees enjoyed the ambiance, they also savored the renowned Cederberg Wines, beer from Cederberg Brewery, and the refreshing CultureLab Kombucha, all sourced from the Cederberg region itself.
On Saturday, over 100 volunteers embarked on various activities aimed at restoring and maintaining the natural beauty of the mountains. They diligently collected litter, removed illegal fire pits, cleared trails, peeled off stickers from signboards, eradicated alien vegetation, and even planted Cedar trees. It was an inspiring display of community-driven environmental stewardship.
Moreover, around 60 children, including local children from nearby communities and farms, engaged in educational activities organized within the campsite. These activities included learning to identify leopard spoor and set up camera traps with Jaco Fourie from the Cape Leopard Trust, experiencing the wonders of Fynbos with Nicky, exploring insects, scorpions, and snakes with Handre Basson, and gaining insights into the river’s diverse ecosystem from Jeremy Shelton of Freshwater Research.
The lineup of speakers for the event was impressive and diverse:
- Blake Dyason, Founder of Love our Trails, served as the MC and host for the weekend.
- Monique Rutherberg, Cape Nature’s conservation manager of the Cederberg, shared her valuable insights of the history, environment and people in the Cederberg wilderness area..
- Rupert Koopman provided an introduction to the vegetation of the Cederberg.
- Peter Dunsby, a Cosmology Professor from UCT and the Cederberg Observatory, shared his passion for astrophotography.
- Alicia Erasmus, founder of CederbergClickClick and representative for the local communities, contributed her expertise, sharing the stories from the people who call the Cederberg home..
- Handre Basson, an MSc Entomology Student, presented his research on bark beetles and associated fungi infecting Cedar Trees.
- Helen Turnbull, CEO of the Cape Leopard Trust, discussed leopard conservation and the organization’s extensive research efforts.
- Dawie Burger, a representative of the Cederberg Conservancy, shared his passion for Cedar trees and the various preservation projects he is involved in.
- Jeremy Shelton, a Freshwater Conservation Biologist and photographer at Freshwater Research Centre, provided insights into endangered fish and underwater ecosystems.
- Meg Murgatroyd, Associate Director of African and Asian programs at HawkWatch, presented her research on Black Eagles and Black Harriers in the Cederberg.
- Stephen Wessels, a PhD Student in Archaeology at UCT, enthralled the audience with his work on 3D digitization of Cederberg rock art.
The weekend proved to be a resounding success, as participants not only gained knowledge and formed new connections but also actively contributed through volunteering. It became a testament to the power of a passionate community united in the cause of preserving wilderness areas.
A heartfelt thank you goes out to everyone involved in making this event possible. Special recognition goes to Dawie and Lizette Burger for their warm welcome at Driehoek and to Dawie for his exceptional organising efforts behind the scenes. Pieter Du Toit and Blake Dyason also deserve appreciation for their work behind the scenes to make the weekend possible.