This past weekend the EWT and the Karkloof Conservancy co-hosted a stand within the Happy Earth Hall of the 2014 Sunday Tribune Garden Show at the Royal Agricultural Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg. The theme for our stand was to illustrate the successful and long standing collaboration between the Endangered Wildlife Trust and the Karkloof Conservancy to protect threatened species within an agricultural landscape. The stand highlights the importance of farmers being custodians of their land and protecting the threatened species, ecosystems and rich biodiversity that occurs there. The EWT and the Karkloof Conservancy’s partnership is key in the accomplishment of this, as the farmers and conservation specialists work together towards the success of this notion.
Farmers in the Karkloof saw a need to conserve their beautiful valley and have been implementing high-tech farming practices for about 20 years now. No-Till Farming is their most notable achievement and has seen many benefits since its inception. Game counts are conducted annually in the Karkloof with the emphasis being on the endangered Oribi population. With all 3 crane species occurring in the region, the nest sites are monitored regularly and annual aerial counts are conducted by the EWT. The EWT and Karkloof Conservancy are equally dependent on each other, as the EWT relies on the cooperation of the farmers through the conservancy and the farmers depend on the expertise of specialists within the EWT for assistance with threatened species conservation. Within the Karkloof valley the EWT has recognised four farmers as Crane Custodians and another three farmers as Oribi Custodians. Also the Karkloof has one of the most active and successful conservancies within KwaZulu-Natal with active and passionate commitment by the members, the farmers.
The success of farmers conserving biodiversity and ecosystems depends completely on trust, relationships, partnerships and commitment. The above ensures that everyone involved understands their role and responsibility in being custodians of the land and understanding brings with it determination without fear. It is therefore hard to put a cost to building this partnership between the EWT and the Karkloof Conservancy. The partnership and success of it is priceless.
For our efforts in building the stand at almost no cost and the message our stand portrayed, the judges awarded us a Gold Award! Well done to EWT’s Tanya Smith from the African Crane Conservation Programme and Jiba Magwaza from the Threatened Grassland Species Programme, as well as Twane Clarke from the Karkloof Conservancy for pulling the display together and passionately manning the stand all weekend.