Our country is often plagued by strikes and violent protests that leave nerves frayed and tempers flaring. But in the Cape a quieter battle is being fought between the poor residents of the Cape Flats and big business. The residents are not fighting for better pay; instead they are battling bulldozers threatening lovely Princess Vlei. This relatively small body of water, which has a big history, faces the threat of a proposed development on its shores: a double-volume shopping mall with a car park and taxi rank. Though loved by the people, the vlei was neglected by the authorities and became further degraded when a road was built through it with little regard for its ecology. The people of Princess Vlei decided this was not to be the undoing of such a beloved piece of land… they began upgrading and restoring the land in a scheme called ‘Dressing the Princess’. And they won’t allow their efforts to be lost to development. We go to Princess Vlei to find out what all the commotion is about.
Electricity prices are set to double in the coming years and coal powers a load-shedding-free SA. We need other renewable sources of electricity. We’ve often brought you inserts on solar and nuclear power, even energy produced by waves. The darling of renewable energy though is the wind farm. SA is due to see the second fully functional wind farm in the country in St Francis Bay after the Darling wind farm was set up in 2008. Alas, where we win on electricity supply, we stand to lose on ecology. Research has focused on the impacts of wind turbines on birds but little has been done on bats. In fact, bat fatalities at some wind farms outnumber bird fatalities 10:1 and are caused by more than just collisions with the turbine blades – they are also affected by a phenomenon called barotrauma. While bats may be scary in Dracula movies, they are integral to ecosystems.
Verreaux’s, or black eagles are few and far between in South Africa and the hunting grounds surrounding the rocky crevices that they inhabit are being increasingly overtaken by urban development. It does not help when a bird that flies into a powerline is temporarily dazed and is picked up as a meal. This was almost the case for the young black eagle we featured on 50|50 some time back were it not for a vigilant resident who exchanged some cash for the irreplaceable welfare of the individual.
No one knows the bush like a field guide and there is no guide like Johann. Johann is at it again, uncovering the smallest to the largest of creatures and helping us appreciate them even more.
This week Veldfokus has a look at youngsters in the wild, from young giraffes to baby cranes and some eight-legged little ones. Newborns for a new year.