uMngeni River work | A report on happenings May 2017

uMngeni River work | A report on happenings May 2017

The uMngeni River always brings surprises. It never ceases to amaze me what a busy space it is, ecologically, socially, cultural and recreational. It is such a multi-dimensional space, used by so many different people and animals, and birds of course.

This month the Umgeni Estuary Conservancy had its annual general meeting on 10 May 2017, held at Kruinsig.  We had a good turnout and Nick Evans spoke on the snakes of Durban. The topic is much broader than only the ‘Snakes of Durban’ as of course snakes serve a vital purpose in keeping rats at bay. Snakes are also a food source to other animals and birds.

Jiba and snake

Nick Evans presenting 

On 3 May, we traveled to the WESSA home at uMngeni Valley Nature Reserve. uMngeni Valley was purchased by WESSA members (wildlife and environment Society of South Africa) all contributing small amounts in the 1970s. The meeting I attended was organised by Liz Taylor and facilitated by Mark Ward on the topic ‘Sustaining and Expanding Community Based Water Management Partnership’s’. After the meeting Paolo Candiotti, Nick Swan and I, representing the eThekwini Conservancies Forum drove to the lookout at Umgeni Valley. The photograph shows the amazing view down into the Umgeni Valley. Howick Falls is located at the bottom of the valley. It is a wonderful place to visit if you want to stay over for a weekend. There is accommodation available at Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve.

Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve views

We are frequently asked by UNISA Nature conservation students for assistance in doing their practical work. These assignments complement the theoretical work and as a corresponding student it is essential that this practical work happens. It is difficult for the students to find people to assist them and we often volunteer to see how we can help. These photographs show the DUCT team working on the Umgeni River in the Springfield area doing invasive alien plants clearing. Hebert Chamane has become a fine teacher and is able to help students in understanding invasive alien plant control, chemical and mechanical application, as well as testing the health of River systems using miniSASS, a tool used by anyone to monitor the health of a river. Sample of small animals or macro invertebrates is collected from the water and used as a measure of the general River health and water quality of the river at that point. How to do miniSASS can be accessed at this website

Dylan Leonard and Hebert Chamane

Mandla of DUCT and Dylan

UNISA students -about to learn miniSASS

Dumping in the area we regard as our Umgeni Estuary Conservancy happens continuously. Access from Riverside road is easy and a car will stop and throw rubbish down the bank into the river and onto the trail. This packaging waste was dumped on the Trail and the photographs were sent to me by Lindelani Zuke.

On the weekend of 13 May with a downpour for several days clearly indicates that climate change is happening. These photographs show the river after the first day of rain. They also show the boom catching waste and litter that comes down storm water drains and accumulates at the boom with the duct teams will then assist in collecting the wastes before it enters the Indian Ocean. Additional photographs were taken by Rosemary Harrison and show the mouth of the river entering the Indian Ocean.
Bart's boom at Connaught Bridge

Another incident in May occurred when a stranded man which rescued from Connaught bridge. I was driving past on the north bank and could not understand why they were so many cars at the informal market area opposite the bird park. It turned out that an unknown man had been trapped on the bridge support for two days. The fishermen had spotted him and reported the matter. He was rescued by paramedics who had to gain access using ropes to rescue the man. He was dehydrated and delirious. It is not known who he was or what has happened to him subsequently. Several newspapers published the strange event, Northglennews, East Coast Radio, Sowetanlive and many more ...

Saturday 20 May at 930 for two hours there is a clean-up happening again. This has become known as clean blue lagoon and the start is usually at the Beachwood Mangroves. The event is posted on Facebook #CleanBlueLagoon and takes place once.

These photographs taken by Bart Fokkens of DUCT show trapped solid pollution being held back by booms. Dale Johnson has started organising these clean blue lagoon events and all support for this short period of two hours is much appreciated.

We are only halfway through the month and so much has happened already. If you have any news or want to report items please feel free to use our Umgeni Estuary Conservancy Facebook page or email me, Margaret Burger,  at