Ruaan Barnard, our Conservation Intern who has starting work for us in our Conservancy would like to introduce himself:


I have been a part of the Duiwenhoks Conservancy for the past two weeks and I am very happy to be here and part of the group.

Firstly, I would like to speak about the people of this community.

From the first day that I arrived in Vermaaklikheid everyone made me feel welcome and was very friendly towards me.

Community people helped me where they could, and offered to help with anything I might need in the future.

So far I’m get along very well with the people and I believe that my relationship with the community will become even stronger.

I see that the village is very small and at the same time it is also very clean.

I was surprised to see that the whole area is in such a good condition and I will do my best to keep it that way.

My work in the community is not only with the people but also to conserve the wildlife here.

The projects that I will tackle, as part of the conservancy are:

Environment education (Vermaaklikheid School)
Alien clearing
Patrolling the rivier
Vegetable gardens with people in the community.
Cooperation with the “Firebreak Association”

There will be lots more in the future.

I was in Cape Town for the second week, where I received some good training to improve my communication skills, my ‘kettingsaag vaardighede’ – chainsaw competence and l training in environmental education. This was particularly important, as I will work with school children.

In my first week in Vermaaklikheid I saw a surprising number of animals. Those that amazed me were the otter, which I saw along the river and on land as well as a massive school of harders. There were so many that they jumped into my boat. This was a first for me.

Everything I do for the conservancy is to protect the environment and its natural life, not because I must but because I love wildlife and I believe that everyone needs nature.

Thank you very much,

Ruaan Barnard

Conservation Intern

Dear Conservancy Members and Friends

Exciting News
We have a Conservation Intern starting work in the Conservancy from next week.

His name is Ruaan Barnard and he has been studying at the School of Conservation at NMMU in George.
If this year is a success, the Conservancy will host a new Intern each year going forward.
SUPPORT NEEDED: We need donations to covers his costs and salary for the year. See below:
The Conservancy Committee will be meeting him this weekend to plan projects and activities for the next 3- 6 months. Projects and activities will likely include the following:

  • Removing black wattle from the river banks – please let me know if you have black wattle on your property that you would us to remove. 
  • Facilitating a community vegetable garden with financial support from the Western Cape Dept of Agriculture
  • Outreach to the mission school to teach the children about conservation
  • Regular presence in the village and on the river to report on interesting findings or illegal activities
  • Skills audit and list of contact numbers for people in Skoolkop
  • Monthly report to the blog

If you have any ideas for projects or would like Ruaan to oversee some work for you, please email John Thorne.

BIG THANKS to the people who are supporting this initiative.

Fire fighting news

Message from SCFPA:

We would like to inform all that Eden District Municipality has decided, in light of the recent increase of wild veld fires, to lighten the burden of fire suppression costs on the landowners, through the following methods:

1. Ferry of Eden Fire and Rescue services resources to the fire and back are FREE

2. The first hour on the fire line is FREE

3. After the first hour, the costs will be carried by the landowner (does not affect the free ferry back)

4. To SCFPA members: You will receive a 50% DISCOUNT on the fire suppression cost, should it go over 1 hour. The SCFPA Working on Fire teams are also FREE for the whole duration of a fire (food and transport excluded)

This strategy is to motivate landowners to phone the Eden Fire and Rescue services, as well as the SCFPA, to stop fires before they get out of control.

Eden fire line – 044 805 507

AGM Reminder

Dear Duiwenhoks Conservancy members and friends

This is a reminder about the AGM on Easter Saturday at 10h00 in the Vredesaal at Vermaaklikheid.

Our beautiful village and river is at a crossroads. There has been an epidemic of crime over the past year with a number of people having their houses burgled and outboard motors and other possessions stolen. A month ago, a conservancy member had their house burnt down in an attack of arson, the second such incident in the village over the past 5 years. A suspect is in jail but the systemic problems remain.

At the 2013 AGM I took over the chairmanship of the conservancy.  However no-one else put their hand up leaving the conservancy short on man power and energy at a time when it is needed most. Like many of you, I have a full life in Cape Town. I am married with two teenage children and I have a full time job. But in spite of my limited time available, I believe I can make a difference. However I need active support from a committed group of people who can help me drive this conservancy forward.

The big questions that we need to answer are:

  • Do we extend the mandate of the Conservancy to get involved in broader social issues in the village? 
  • What is our pro-active response to the crime in the village? 
  • Do we change the conservancy to become an NGO so that it can raise funds and implement a program of activities that can combine alien clearing and livelihoods in the village. Currently the Conservancy has no status as a legal entity. 

At the heart of this, is the question: How can we ensure that the character of the village, the river and natural assets are managed in a sustainable manner for the all the people that use it.

I hope we can have a lively debate, develop a new vision and start to think about what we need to do make this vision a reality. I trust that members of the conservancy will put up their hands to join me in breathing new life into this organisation.

Please feel free to email me if you want to discuss anything.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Warm regards

John Thorne