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These mounds, often called 'ant hills', are one of the outstanding features of many of the African savannah areas. They occur around the world in warm areas and vary in size, up to several metres in height. In sandy regions, nutrients are leached out of the soil by water and carried down to levels out of reach of grass and other plants. The only things that can retrieve these nutrients to the surface are deep working termite mounds and deep rooted trees. Many of the early prospectors analysed the soil in large termite mounds to indicate the minerals deep down in the area.

Over the weekend of the 21st March, we looked up to the sky and were mesmerised by the beautiful old classic airplanes flying around our valley. John Sayers held his annual private fly-in at Blue Mountain Valley Airfield in Hekpoort. Amongst the activities was a formation flight which included a Boeing Stearman, Whaco, Tigermoths, Harvard, a North American Navion, a Fairchild and De Haviland Chipmunks.

Most of these aircraft were built in the early 1940s. (Photos kindly provided by Lourie Laatz).

The highlight of the weekend was the display by the Mustang.

‘Going green’ does not only involve recycling. Basically, it means to live life, as an individual as well as a community, in a way that is friendly to the natural environment and is sustainable for the earth.

Its official: Worldwide, 2014 has taken the title of hottest year on record. This ranking comes courtesy of data released by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) recently.

The occupiers’ right to bury on farmland

(Below follows an abbreviated version of an article by Thabiso Mbhense (advocate in the Legal Resource Centre, Johannesburg) that appeared in the February 2015 edition of De Rebus, a monthly publication for attorneys. We thought that it would be of interest to our members/readers).

We have a rich variety of indigenous bird species in our Conservancy. Recently, large numbers of African Green Pigeons (Treron calva) frequented one of our Bergkarees, about 30m from our house. The tree had lots of seed this year, and what a sight it was to watch the pigeons enjoying it! (Photos and an article on these colourful birds appeared in Newsletter 60 of March 2014). About a fortnight ago, one of our members from the Damhoek area, Denise Carlin, was very excited when she spotted Redbilled Oxpeckers (Buphagus erythrorhynchus) on eland during a game drive.

Many of our members, readers and visitors to the area have noticed that there was a huge increase of Pompom (Campuloclinium macrocephalum) ,a Category 1a declared weed. Although the stem-deforming thrips, Liothrips tractabilis, which also decrease the number of flowers, thereby inhibiting seed dispersal, were released in the Damhoek and Mohales Gate areas in February 2014, it cannot be said that this lengthy and very expensive biological control process has shown any great successes up to the present stage.

It has become very expensive for landowners to sell their properties. Before putting up your property for sale, you must ensure firstly, that you don’t owe any rates or taxes to your local municipality. A letter of approval for the sale of your property will otherwise not be issued by the municipality. You will, however, be able to declare a dispute with the municipality, which may result in court action.

Parthenium hysterophorus of the Aster-species

During the 2014 planning process for National Strategy and Implementation Plan for this Category 1 declared weed, it was decided to use “Famine weed” as the preferred common name for this invasive plant in South Africa, as is also done in Europe. The agreed Zulu/Xhosa common name is Umbulalazwe. According to Kay Montgomery (email on14 January 2015), “This is not a trivial matter – it is important that the affected elements within our society all become aware of this very dangerous invasive weed. If we persist in using a range of different common names in each of our languages, then we will make our common experts’ task doubly difficult”. For more information, contact Kay Montgomery on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

One of our members, Andrie van den Berg, wrote via email on 8 January 2015: “During the past few days we have noticed four owls which have made a home in the karee close by our kitchen window. It looks like a mother/father and two young chicks. According to the literature I researched, they are African Scops owls (Otus senegalensis)”.

In a letter written to Maroela Media, Annie Erickson, an American lady who has been living in South Africa for the past seven years, explains how Afrikaans speaking people have influenced her thoughts on the situation in South Africa during this time. Her letter was published in English, so that the essence of her message could be communicated the way she intended to. Currently, Annie is learning to speak Afrikaans, and she informed the editor of Maroela Media that she was learning the words of one Afrikaans Christmas hymn every day during December, so that she would be able to sing along in Afrikaans on Christmas day. She is currently doing research on Afrikaner history. Her study field and field of interest focus on marginalised ways of mourning and spiritual accompaniment, specialising in creating an environment for people to mourn their losses in societies that don’t see any point in doing this.

In a letter written to Maroela Media, Annie Erickson, an American lady who has been living in South Africa for the past seven years, explains how Afrikaans speaking people have influenced her thoughts on the situation in South Africa during this time. Her letter was published in English, so that the essence of her message could be communicated the way she intended to. Currently, Annie is learning to speak Afrikaans, and she informed the editor of Maroela Media that she was learning the words of one Afrikaans Christmas hymn every day during December, so that she would be able to sing along in Afrikaans on Christmas day. She is currently doing research on Afrikaner history. Her study field and field of interest focus on marginalised ways of mourning and spiritual accompaniment, specialising in creating an environment for people to mourn their losses in societies that don’t see any point in doing this.

In the early hours, one day in November, we were woken by an emergency radio call. A horse belonging to two of our members, Werner Fiel and Esther Müller, had somehow landed in their swimming pool!