When it comes to the rarer, more vulnerable life forms that are found within our immediate environment there is always a toss-up between sharing these findings with the general public and keeping the details obscured and to oneself. This is due to there being an element within society that will use the information for their own gain and to the detriment of the finding itself. Rare plants are dug out by collectors, reptiles taken for the black market trade and animals illegally hunted or snared. This happens right beneath our noses by all walks of life. There is little difference between a tortoise being taken from its natural environment because you think it is “safer” in your garden or “would make a good pet” and one taken for bushmeat. Both are out of its natural habitat due to an individual’s self-interest and when they are gone, they are gone. We as a society are having our natural heritage literally stolen from an ever-shrinking habitat on a daily basis.
On the flipside: if one does not share findings with the community, how do you stimulate the conservation interest and awareness needed in others as well as future generations? If people don’t know these things exist, measures will never be put in place to ensure their long-term presence within the environment.
The Great Brak River Conservancy aims to walk the fine line that is between obscuring the exact location of sensitive findings and still sharing them honestly with the community and the rest of the world. An opportunity to share our observations to the rest of the globe came with the Garden Route participating in the City Nature Challenge. Over the challenge Conservancy camera traps were able to add local vervet monkeys, bushpigs, Cape porcupine, large spotted genet and common duiker to the Garden Route’s species list which totalled 2 425 different species observed. A figure that allowed the Garden Route to achieve 6th place in the global standings for the amount of species recorded over the City Nature Challenge. Thanks to all those who contributed towards the challenge.
One has to consider that these observations were taken in only four days and were under lockdown conditions. Lockdown may have prevented us from getting into the veld, rock pools, estuaries and river systems but it did not stop us from being placed within the top ten for species. This highlights the amount of species we have here within the Garden Route. Equally it highlights the sheer importance of conserving it.
We have a lot to be proud of within the Garden Route. How we conserve and how we involve the community are just as important as the act of conserving. After all, keeping something to oneself doesn’t ensure its future when you’re no longer there to protect it.