Crystelle Wilson is a keen supporter of the uMngeni River Walk – here she shares a story about the Green Hub along the uMngeni River in Durban, where the walk will end today.
The bond between cities and rivers is as complex as any human relationship. Cities develop in areas exactly because there are rivers to feed, nourish and entertain them. But when respect is lacking, things can go badly wrong. In Durban I am delighted with the eThekwini Municipality’s plans to develop a green corridor along the uMngeni River for residents to hike, bike, bird or generally enjoy the outdoors. For far too long parts of the river banks have been no-go areas because of neglect, crime, injudicious planning and encroaching alien vegetation choking the life out of a major asset.
On Sunday 4 September a historic event took place along the estuary – the first ever walk on a trail network which ultimately will link Durban with the Drakensberg as part of an adventure sport and eco-tourism product. Members of hiking and birding clubs accompanied the project team along the route which was mapped by Jerome Mouny, a professional guide from Reunion Island. Jerome was invited to assist with the three week trail mapping project as a result of Durban’s sister city partnership with the municipality of LePort. He is noting distances, features and points of interest on the walks.
After taking part in the first three days of walking and mapping, I am smitten. I was totally surprised and delighted with the birding potential of the section of river between two major highways in a very industrial area. In just two hours I had a list of 55 birds which included species like kingfishers, African Jacana, Hamerkop, warblers, Goliath and Purple Heron and Little Bittern. The Duzi uMngeni Conservation Trust is clearing alien vegetation along the banks with slashing teams, fighting water lettuce and hyacinth with weevils and with the Green Corridor Project team are working on issues such as security and guides. This effort to reclaim the river for recreation deserves everyone’s support and can rekindle the love affair between the city and her rivers.
Read more of Crystelle’s writing on her blog http://crystellewilson.posterous.com/