Despite popular misconception, I, Nikki, am not walking all the way from Drinkkop to Durban with the DUCT team. I’m the one glued to my computer,in the comfort of my home, waiting for updates on their adventures to share with the world.
However, yesterday, I did join them to amble along the river path in Howick – from York Road Pump Station to kwaMevana. It was really rather exciting to see them all come around the corner and head towards us!
The path is very well maintained by Bill Speight (Howick uMngeni River Conservancy) and, I believe, very popular with dog walkers and Howick residents. It is absolutely lovely and Bill and his team deserve high praise for their voluntary efforts.
I was aghast at all the invasive vegetation on the river banks. Two of the Pees in the Pod – Preven and Penz sang a jaunty “I’m an alien, I’m an invasive alien, I’m a bugweed on the uMngeni” as the wandered along. Camphor trees, Mulberries, Cannas, Wandering jew, Balloon Vine, Gums, Privet, Ginger. Pretty scary. Most of these have escaped from Howick gardens – so don’t think your ‘pretty garden’ has no effect on biodiversity and our water resources. Everyone has a duty to remove invasive plants.
It was lovely to find a few indigenous Clausena anisata and Combretum’s surviving the invasion. The river still seems a wild and natural place, even though the houses are right nearby. How fortunate Howick residents are to have this space to connect with the river.
The team carried on to Howick Falls – Penz writing furiously, Preven noting all the GPS points and Penny telling the dictaphone exactly where the problem plants, litter and siltation in the river were.
This journey might look like travelogue to you, but the team are really working hard and without doubt will have a big impact on conserving our precious water resources. Do you know that a recent systematic assessment of river biodiversity in South Africa has found that 84% of river ecosystems are threatened with 54% critically endangered?