by Jax Bath
On the 5th of July, I arrived in the sleepy town of Nature’s Valley, excited to begin a 6-month conservation internship with the trust. My first interaction with NVT was back in March of 2019 when I was lucky enough to attend a marine evening dedicated to the work that the team was doing with their #ShareTheShores project. This was one of the most inspiring presentations I have ever attended. I loved the team’s approach to conservation and how they found ways to work with the local communities to benefit the wildlife.
Fast forward a year and (almost) a half later, I found myself walking into a brightly coloured office, filled with the sort of tools and trinkets one finds wherever conservationists work. I was greeted by the friendly faces of Kellyn and Brittany, who got me all geared up before setting me straight to work. It was a rainy Tuesday Morning, and on days like these where the weather takes a turn for the worse, the team spends their time in the office.
It was a lovely first day, writing about the things that I do know and asking Kellyn and Brittany a million questions about the projects and daily workings of the trust. One thing that was apparent from day one is that for a small team, these passionate conservationists do a lot of good work covering many topics within the sector.
Day two saw us conducting some fieldwork, heading out for a Coordinated Waterbird Count, otherwise known as a CWAC. We spent a lovely couple of hours on the Groot River estuary, recording the number of birds that were spotted as well as all the different species. Some of the highlights of this count included 2 different species of Kingfisher and a couple of Yellow-Billed Ducks.
Later that afternoon, we also had an unexpected addition to our day when an Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) was stranded along the beach. Although I have spotted many out at sea during my time in tourism, I had never attended a stranding, which although sad is always very fascinating as one can gather so much information about oceanic animals which is often impossible when they are out at sea. We collected some measurements from this gigantic fish before the tide made it difficult to continue our inspection of it. These measurements were shared with some of our collaborators who are more involved in trying to understand the mysteries of these amazing creatures.
The rest of the week saw us embarking on a fynbos flower walk as well as a fishing line bin collection. The fishing line bin collection is done monthly, with us collecting and analyzing the contents of the bins in order to gain a greater understanding of this marine waste. If disposed of correctly, fishing lines can be recycled but if simply discarded on a beach, this line also has the ability to cause much destruction and loss of life in our marine environments. With a few of the bins full of contents, it goes to show that they are serving their purpose.
Our last bit of fieldwork for the week was a flower walk along the beautiful Kalander Kloof Hiking Trail, where we spotted several species of fynbos in flower. Kellyn is a fynbos wiz, imparting so much knowledge throughout our time along the trail. After an eventful and fun-filled first week, I cannot wait for the next 6 months to come.