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Conservation Award for Dargle

The iconic hill, iNhlosane, looks over the beautiful Dargle Valley which consists of wetlands, highly endangered moist Mistbelt grasslands and indigenous forest.

At the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife AGM held in May 2010, Dargle Conservancy Chair, Andrew Anderson, received a Certificate, presented in recognition of outstanding commitment and contribution to the natural environment of KwaZulu Natal, on behalf of the Conservancy, for the efforts which have been made towards conserving local biodiversity by establishing a Provincial Nature Reserve to protect this natural beauty for the benefit of future generations.

During the past two years the Dargle Conservancy has been actively engaged with the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) Biodiversity Stewardship Programme (BSP) to proclaim 2000ha of private land, which contains critically important species or habitats, a Nature Reserve. The Dargle is host to many endangered species including the Cape Parrot, Oribi and all three crane species and is an extremely important water catchment area – particularly for the uMngeni River.  After a thorough assessment, Kevin McCann, head of the EKZNW BSP, has negotiated with all landowners to ensure that the area receives the long term protection it requires.

Since it was established in 2003, The Dargle Conservancy has worked hard to improve awareness of the importance of Biodiversity in the Midlands, hosting regular talks by experts on forests, snakes, bats, birds, butterflies, grasslands, alien vegetation and climate change.  The Conservancy is active in monitoring inappropriate developments which might threaten biodiversity and, recognising that it is important to inspire the next generation of custodians, gives regular grants to the Midlands Meander Education Project to conduct lessons in the two local rural schools around ecological issues.  Last year, in a bold plan to strengthen the food web, 40 Rock Hyrax (Dassie) were reintroduced into an area which was once home to a thriving population. The Dassie is the most important component of the food web that is missing from parts of the Dargle and as this is strengthened, the Conservancy plans to extend the reintroduction to other areas and eventually introduce the now very rare Blue Duiker.

Andrew Anderson comments “This award is a great boost for the work of the Conservancy, but accolades must go to the 10 landowners who have made such a bold and forward-thinking contribution to conservation in South Africa.”  This is a commendable community effort which will have benefits for many more than those who are fortunate to live in the Dargle.