FARMERS LINK UP TO SAVE RIVERINE RABBIT
Three farmers in the Krom River area near Beaufort West have established a conservancy for the riverine rabbit, one of South Africa’s the most endangered species. “A recent three-day seminar in Stellenbosch, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Zoo and other USA organisations, prompted this action by Monty Truter, David Jack and ourselves,” said Hillary Steven-Jennings, of Hillandale. “Research by Cape Nature Conservation has revealed many potential habitats for these nocturnal creatures on Booyskraal, Bokpoort and Hillandale.” Riverine rabbits are only found in the Beaufort West and Victoria West areas of the Great Karoo. They are severely endangered due to loss of habitat and hunting. “We have already started education programmes,” Hilary said.
SHOPRITE SPAN SAAM OM TOERISME TE BEVORDER
In ‘n gees van samewerking het die bestuur van die Beaufort-Wes tak van Shoprite besluit om die dorp se bemarkingsprojekte vir die komende fees te ondersteun met ‘n spesiale reeks kompetisies. “Toerisme is die lewensbloed van die dorp,” sê Shoprite bestuurder Otto Goede. “Ons borg dus ‘n banier om toeriste in die dorp te verwelkom, sowel as heelwat pryse vir die straatmyl wedloop. Ek en die ander 78 personeellede van die Beaufort-Wes tak gaan ook werk daarvan maak om kaartjies te verkoop vir ‘n kompetisie waarin R1 500 kruideniersware, ‘n Weber-braai of R500 gewen kan word. Dit is deel van die toeristeburo se groot fondsinsamelingprojek om ‘n professionele volkleur-brosjure vir die dorp te laat druk.”
MAJOR FUNDING FOR PARK PROJECTS
Community-based tourism projects at the Karoo National Park near Beaufort West have recently been granted major funding. This is as a result of a cultural history research project conducted for the Karoo National Park by Rose Willis, of the Central Karoo District Council’s Regional Tourism Office, in collaboration with the park’s socio-ecology department, honorary rangers and representatives from all communities in Beaufort West. The project, which has a firm tourism and job-creation base, resulted in a possible funding of over Rl,5 million from the Department of Economic Affairs and Tourism’s Poverty Relief Fund as well as R50 000 from Danced, a Danish government organisation. The 11Ou Schuur project was also recently adjudged one of the best of its kind at a Best Practices Congress at the Kruger National Park.
SWARTBERG LODGE DOES IT AGAIN
The wine list at the Swartberg Country Lodge in Prince Albert has won a Diners Club 2000 Platinum Award for the third year in a row. It is one of only eight winners in the Western Cape and 14 in SA. Owners Blackie and Lorraine Swart are delighted. The Diners Club merit awards were introduced to raise the standard of wine available at accommodation venues and restaurants.
KAROO’S FAMILY OF EAGLES GROWS
The magnificent booted eagle, once believed to breed only in the northern hemisphere, is now also breeding in the Karoo. Raptor researchers Rob Martin and Dawn Tyler recently discovered five nests between Three Sisters and Beaufort West. “These are near Travalia at Three Sisters, in the Swartkloof area on Montana, near Nelspoort, and on Lemoenfontein outside Beaufort West. There are nests in the Karoo National Park, at De Hoop and near De Jagers Pass in the Beaufort West area as well,” said Rob, who works for the Department of Forestry at Stellenbosch University and conducts raptor research as a hobby. “Before 1973, the booted eagle was thought to be a rare, non-breeding migrant from Europe. In August of that year, my late father, John Martin, saw a pair near Nieuwoudtville. They seemed to be aggressively chasing other birds away from a nest. Experts were sceptical, but my father confirmed the nest. It was the first ever found in the southern hemisphere. Since then we have recorded 183 nesting sites and we estimate there could be about 700 pairs in South Africa. Although we now know that the booted eagle is a reasonably widespread breeding bird in the Western Cape, we continue the project because it gives us so much pleasure.” Rob and Dawn are no strangers to the Karoo. They compiled the birding lists for Gamkapoort Nature Reserve and the Karoo National Park. “Farmers interested in assisting should look for these eagles in wooded areas where there are pillars of rock,” said Rob.
KURSUSSE VIR TOERGIDSE
‘n Kort kursus vir toerleiers word deur Prins Albert Toerismeburo aangebied. “Ons wil inwoners meer bewus maak van wat in hul dorp aangaan sodat hulle dit met toeriste kan deel,” sê ontwikkelingskomitee voorsitter Marie du Toit. “Toeriste vra dikwels die eerste persoon in die straat om vir hulle te help. Ons wil graag hê dat elke inwoner ‘n ambassadeur vir die dorp sal wees in sulke gevalle.” ‘n Soortgelyke projek word ook in Beaufort-Wes aangepak. Busi Nkosi-Radebe, voorsitter van Velela Tourism Training, het onlangs ‘n praatjie in die dorp gelewer oor die belangrikheid van plaaslike toergidse.
WANTED: DETAILS ON A MAN WHO BORROWED BARROWS
In 1865, Irishman Joseph Michel Gilligham, borrowed five wheelbarrows from the Beaufort West Municipality to celebrate the birthday of “our most gracious majesty” Queen Victoria. Just over 30 years later his eldest son, Solomon William, helped form the pro-Boer Irish Brigade that fought against the British during the Anglo-Boer War. Then, in July 1900, Solomon and Lieutenant Tossel, of the Transvaal police, tried to blow up the Pretoria magazine. They were caught and deported to Ceylon. Hearing of these happenings was all Maurice Bennell of Bloemfontein needed to search for more about this side of his family. The wheelbarrows especially piqued his interest. He was not able to find out what his great grandfather, a staunch Irish Catholic, and his friends, J Ferguson, J Clench, C V Fraser and B Morse, had in mind. What he did discover was that Beaufort West Municipality agreed to loan them five barrows in “good repair” so long as they “bound themselves to return them in the same order and if they ‘injured’ the barrows to repair them at their own expense.” Shortly after Joseph Gillingham arrived in Beaufort West, he set up business as a house painter, baker and butcher. He was a kind hearted man who died penniless through allowing too much credit. After the Anglo-Boer War, Solomon returned from Ceylon with a bride, Olive Stainton. Maurice is now trying to trace the story of their lives. He would appreciate any information.
DIE GEHEIME BOME BLOM WEER
Elke lente pronk ‘n klompie bome naby die waterval buite Beaufort-Wes met die pragtigste rooi blomme, en jaarliks vra toeriste watter soort bome hulle is. Toe plaaslike voëlkykers Ann Mocke en Madeleine van der Merwe vanjaar in die gebied gestap het, het hulle ook oor die bome begin wonder. “Ek het eens gehoor dat die bome amper ‘n honderd jaar oud is,”sê Ann. “Tydens die Anglo-Boereoorlog was daar glo ‘n Britse kamp in daardie omgewing. Ou mense van die dorp vertel dat die bome se saad met die voer van die perde in gekom het en omdat die perde daar kos en water gekry het, het die sade ontkiem en begin groei. Ek sal graag wil weet of iemand hierdie storie kan bevestig, en miskien vir ons kan sê watter soort bome dit is.”
THE SWINDLER WHO PLAYED A CHARMING TUNE
An amiable man of science, whom legendary policeman Colonel Ulf Boberg described as the cleverest criminal he’d ever met, once charmed Beaufort Westers with his piano playing. This refined man was Dr Thornton, a Doctor of Science, analytical chemist, world traveller, swindler and international confidence trickster. In the 1930s, Colonel Boberg caught up with him in a small Free State town. He writes in his book, The Boberg Story: “Thornton, then just past the prime of life, was a tall, suave, well-built man with silvery hair. Polished and refined, he dressed immaculately. His educated speech and impeccable manners inspired confidence. Names of royalty, the rich and famous peppered his speech. Thornton also played the piano excellently, as I learned during the preparatory hearing in Beaufort West. His cleverness lay in the fact that he was satisfied to take a little from everyone. Few realised they had been swindled. No one complained to the police.” The FBI picked up Thornton’s trail when he swindled a rich American woman out of thousands of dollars. Before they could trap him, he vanished, only to turn up in London involved in similar crimes. With Scotland Yard hot on his heels, Thornton disappeared. Then an advertisement in leading South African newspapers caught Boberg’s eye. It offered “£10 000 for immediate investment.” He investigated and picked up Thornton’s trail. Eventually he caught up with him in the Free State. At first pleading innocence, Thornton later admitted: “Mr Boberg, you’ve got me.” Thornton skillfully handled his own defence but was found guilty on all counts. The Supreme Court sentenced him to 4½ years in prison for fraud. As he walked out of the courtroom, he tapped Boberg on the shoulder and said: “I regret coming to South Africa and getting caught by a local detective when neither the FBI nor Scotland Yard could trace me. I congratulate you.” People called him a liar, charlatan and cheap trickster. But Boberg disagreed. To him Thornton remained an enigma. “That he had a distinguished career I could not doubt. And I wondered what else was true when I found an old newspaper photograph showing him standing next to King Alfonso of Spain.” Thornton died in prison.
MEER AS ‘n MILJOEN SOEK INLIGTING
Die Wes-Kaaptoerismeraad se webblaaie is ‘n groot sukses. IT-bestuurder Faye Reagon sê meer as ‘n miljoen kykers het die WKTR-webtuiste besoek na dit in Mei gelanseer is. “Die grootste belangstelling kom van die VSA, gevolg deur Frankryk, Duitsland en ander Europese lande. Ons is verheug met die vinnige en groot reaksie. Ons weet ons is op die regte pad,” sê sy.
DREAM CATCHER UNITES TWO PRINCES
A strange device in a window has brought two princes together in cyberspace. Said to have magical properties, the device, a Canadian Indian dream catcher, hangs in a window at Prince Albert Tourist Bureau. It set Ailsa Tudhope thinking, so she began to browse the web in the hopes of finding out more about dream catchers. She found a site for Prince Albert in Saskatchewan, Canada, and sent them an e.mail. Cheryl Lavoie, Tourism and Convention Bureau Administrator, replied: “It was wonderful to hear from you. I had not realised there was another Prince Albert.” The Princes are now exchanging brochures and information. Cheryl also explained the purpose of the dream catcher. “The Indians believe that the night air is filled with natural and supernatural thoughts. Some manifest as good dreams, others as bad. These dreams all get caught up in the dream catcher. The good ones slip through the centre hole and waft down to the sleeper, but the bad ones don’t know the way, so they stay tangled in the webbing and perish at first light.”
KAROO BLOMMEPRAG BEKOOR LUISTERAARS
‘n Onlangse praatjie oor die blommeprag van die Karoo met uitsaaier Leslie MacKenzie op Fine Music Radio het groot belangstelling gelok. Beaufort-Wes toeristebeampte Wendy Antonie het luisteraars vertel van die rooi en oranje alwyne wat stokstyf staan soos kerse in die veld. Sy het die heerlike reuk van die aandblom beskryf, en vertel van vygies wat soos lappieskomberse lê. Dan het sy vertel van die rooi klokkie blommetjies van die kankerbos, die giftige blou tulpe en die goud-geel donsies van die acacia karoo, die inheemse doringboom. Luisteraars het dit so geniet dat hulle amper onmiddellik begin bel het om meer uit te vind.
WOMAN WITH A FRAGRANT VISION (Tel No 049-845-9006)
Fragrant fields of lavender in the Karoo is no more the stuff of fantasy. A little over a year ago, Annemarie Kroon planted a thousand English lavender bushes in the Camdeboo Valley. This spring she will plant another thousand on the farm Klipdrift near Graaff Reinet. “My vision is to eventually create rolling fields of lavender. This will be a delight to see when they flower, and the scent will be heavenly on gentle Karoo breezes.” Annemarie, with three children under four, said starting the project was a hectic experience. Nevertheless, her lavender products are already on shelves of up-market gift shops. “The range is small, but its success has taken me by surprise. As yet there is little to see, but within a year I hope to conduct tours around our farm to share the facts and fantasies of lavender with visitors.”
ONTMOET DIE ‘MENSE’ VAN DIE VOËLWÊRELD
Na die vroegoggend roep van ‘n piet-my-vrou het voëltjieliefhebber Manie Malan onlangs die wêreld van sy vlieënde vriende uit ‘n nuwe hoek bekyk. “Ver weg, voor daglig en lank voor die meeste mense oorweeg om op te staan het ek ‘n piet-my-vrou hoor roep. Sy stem was vol angs en spanning,” sê hy. “Wat is so dringend wonder ek? Is hy miskien ‘n sinode lid wat deur die nag wakker gesit het en besin oor verrigtinge? Bid hy dat die spookbeelde terug gedryf moet word in die donkerpoel van onderbewussyn? Of was dit maar net ‘n slang in die tuin, wat hom onrustig gemaak het?” Manie sien talle menslike karaktertrekke in sy geveerde vriende. “Die muisvoël is ’n vandaal in ‘n manelpak, ‘n egte fariseër, skelm, maar mooi. Die geelvink is ‘n konsertinaspeler in ‘n boere-orkes, die hadedah is ‘n doemprofeet, wat sy ontevredenheid in ‘n dik stem uitspreek, en die witkruisarend is die engel van vergelding. Die tarentaal ‘n neulkous wat aanhoudend kerm met ‘n stem soos die droewige skreeu van ‘n ou kruiwawiel. Die spreeu, met sy opvlieënde persoonlikheid, is die skinderbek, raser en vloeker van die voëlwêreld. Kraaie is narre, en tortelduiwe geesdriftiges wat in hul sagte stemmetjies al die liefde en leed van hul wêreld vertel. Swaeltjies is, soos die Engelse sê, ‘poetry in motion,’ en windswaels getuig van stille water, diepe grond. Die kransduif is ‘n trotse koning wat tot die hoogste sfere verban is. Die laksman is ‘n leierouderling met ‘n geestelike magshonger. Hy dra ‘n manel, tree soos die predikant op, maar daar is geen liefde in sy oë nie. Kwikstertjies is deugsames wat weet van genade. Hulle is verbasend eg. Die uil is die begrafnisondernemer, stilswygend en ernstig. Die stille rooiborsduiwe getuig net van goed. Mossies is parasiete, plakkers van die agterwerf, oppervlakkige bedelaars. En, daar is kinders, die meelogies en tinktinkies, weerloos, en klein met piep stemmetjies.”
MEIRINGSPOORT ONCE ALMOST ON THE RAIL
In the 1930s, entrepreneurs planning economic development of the Karoo proposed building a railway line through Meiringspoort to link Beaufort West and Mossel Bay. This, they felt, would create new markets for the south-western districts of the then Cape Province and so develop the infrastructures of settlements on both sides of the Swartberg. A conference, attended by all public bodies, businessmen, farmers and other interested parties was held at Mossel Bay in September 1934. Delegates heard that the plan had been proposed a few years previously but was abandoned due to lack of finance. It was again under consideration. Approaches were to be made to the Railway Administration and the Government to build a line from Le Roux Station in the Klein Karoo to Beaufort West in the heart of the Great Karoo. Chambers of commerce, farmers associations and local government organisations all supported the idea. It was reported that the route for the line had already been surveyed. Cost of construction was estimated at £400 000, or £7 000 a mile. Experts felt this was greatly over-stated as “there were only six miles of Meiringspoort where hard rock may present problems.” Despite support and enthusiasm for the project, which all agreed would open up “the most picturesque part of the country,” the scheme was again abandoned due to shortage of money.
FIETSRIT NA DIE HEL (Tel No. 023-541-1736)
Die tweede “Na Hel en Terug” fietstoer word op 11 en 12 November vanjaar gehou. Op dié gewilde uitstappie kan deelnemers hulle verlustig in die prag van die Swartberge. Die roete begin bo in die berge op die Swartbergpas en eindig in Gamkaskloof, of Die Hel, soos dit alombekend staan. Akkommodasie in die Kloof is beperk en net 250 inskrywings kan aanvaar word.”