(This report first appeared in the ABI e-newsletter - Ed).
Wetlands Report from the Agulhas Plains region
Over half the wetlands in South Africa have been destroyed and the remaining wetlands require urgent protection to ensure their long-term survival. Wetlands moderate water quantity and quality, as well as sustain numerous specialised fauna and flora species, many of which rely on these wetland areas for their survival. The very low gradients in the south-eastern Agulhas Plain result in significant wetland development, and have helped created the second largest lacustrine wetland in South Africa – Soetendalsvlei. The Agulhas region is unique in terms of the twelve types of wetlands that occur within a relatively small area.
In May 2005 the Department of Agriculture: Western Cape funded a report aimed at collecting all previous and current information and research on the Nuwejaars, Heuningnes, Kars and Ratel River wetland systems, providing a summary for each (including purpose, findings, recommendations and gaps) and recommendations on how to eradicate invader plants. Copies of this report are available on CD from firstname.lastname@example.org or 028-316 3338.
CapeNature carried out baseline data surveys at Soetendalsvlei, Voëlvlei, Waskraalsvlei and Nuwejaars River during March 2005. A total of four frog species were recorded. Forty-four species of birds were recorded for Soetendalsvlei, 33 for Voëlvlei and 13 for Waskraalsvlei. This included the 20th sighting of the Gull-billed Tern in southern Africa. The bird usually migrates between North Africa and Europe but, in this case, instead of migrating north to Europe the bird migrated south (reverse migration). Subsequently, birders visiting the area the weekend after the survey to see the tern, spotted another rare bird – the White-rumped Sandpiper (13th sighting of this species in southern Africa). One Caspian Tern at Soetendalsvlei had a red band on its left leg. All ten African Fish Eagles counted at Voëlvlei were juvenile birds while two of the 12 counted at Soetendalsvlei were juvenile birds. Twenty-one juvenile greater Flamingos and one juvenile White Pelican were also counted at Voëlvlei. The 40 Blue Cranes seen at Voëlvlei were all undergoing a complete moult and were totally flightless.
Fish surveys were carried out at Soetendalsvlei and a total of six species were caught including Flathead Mullet, Freshwater Mullet, Round Moony, Cape Moony, Spotted Bass and Carp.