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Paardevlei wetlands in Somerset West, near Cape Town

The Eco-Rangers were able to visit the beautiful Paardevlei wetland in Somerset West. The children were all very excited by a change in venue and of course we could not wait to see all the flamingo’s.

Netting in Paardevlei wetland

Netting in Paardevlei wetland

With hats on and nets at the ready, we all headed to the walkway only to discover that the special pink birds had taken flight to another area for the day. From a large flock the previous week, there were now only 5 birds left. Mmmmmm someone must have told them a group of eager children were coming to visit and so that made themselves scarce. Unbelievable, but the very next day they were back again!!!!

The lack of Flamingo’s did not deter us and soon the children were off wading in the very stinky black mud in search of water life and birds. We were able to see otter spore (very exciting) along the shore area. The Spoonbill was still around and then of course, there were the many Redknobed Coots dotted all over the lake. Other birds we saw were the Grey heron, Black Winged Stilt, Pied Avocet and the Blacksmith Plover.

Although the children searched in the mud for frogs and other life . . . only one frog was found. This was a tiny Platana frog or Cape Clawed Frog which had been buried deep in the mush. Other than that, a few boatmen and water bugs were seen.


Cape Clawed Frog or Cape Platanna

And as for the mud . . . it took one child to dive in and then many of the others followed. For a while they looked like hippos wallowing and enjoying the cool on the hot day. Some ended up covered in mud glories mud from head to toe. All in all lots of fun was had and we hope the children all enjoyed their time learning about this area from Andreas. We hope we can assist in the preservation and protection of this wetland through odd projects, litter clearing etc.

And little about Paardevlei: (taken from the sign board)


Dormant Snail in a Deer Grass seedhead

The natural history of Paardevlei indicates that the vlei was a shallow, seasonal pan. Over many decades it was, however, managed as a deepwater permanent reservoir, filled with nutrient rich water and used to supply water to the former industrial plant on the site. Today is has been rehabilitated to resemble more closely its natural condition and its outlet structures are designed to accommodate and control water levels during the wet and dry seasons. This means that the vlei can both provide a habitat type that is critically threatened in the Western Cape, and play a role in managing storm water from nearby developments as well as upstream.

The vlei margins have been reshaped and its seasonally wetted area covers approximately 40 hectares. The existing hard edges of the vlei have been softened with the planting of indigenous seasonal vegetation and developments have been set back from the open water system and wetland edge by a broad vegetated buffer area. Several bird islands and varied habitats have been created within the vlei to encourage the establishment of a natural, healthy habitat for biodiversity conversation.

The alien trees removed have been used to create bird breeding habitats and chipped to construct pathways. The highly invasive Kikuyu grass has also been removed from the site, which is managed on an ongoing basis. Special care has been taken to preserve trees identified with historical significance.


Clawless Otter and Mongoose spore

This note is from a few years ago and thus the area is now no longer as cared for as it was. In actual fact it needs some attention and care from the community and group like the Helderberg Eco-Rangers. Paardevlei needs your support just as the birds and other creatures of this area need this area to be protected.

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