Making a difference on Mandela Day

Emily Taylor, Threatened Grassland Species Programme, Gauteng Biodiversity Stewardship Project Coordinator, and Belinda Glenn, Marketing and Communications Manager and

Nelson Mandela once said, “I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses. We must never forget that it is our duty to protect this environment.” At the EWT, we pride ourselves on our commitment to protecting our environment all year round, but still felt that we would like to participate in something special to mark Mandela Day on 18 July.

Mandela Day 20172

Our Urban Conservation and Birds of Prey programmes have developed strong partnerships with the Greater Kyalami Conservancy (GEKCO), through our work on Grass Owls, Giant Bullfrogs, and general environmental awareness and education in the Kyalami and Diepsloot areas. A number of staff from our head office in Johannesburg joined a wetland clean up organised by GEKCO, as part of their Green Neighbourhoods Project. The clean-up took place in Diepsloot, where a lack of municipal waste removal services has led to a huge build-up of rubbish in the wetland that surrounds the informal settlement. The result is a situation that is not only problematic for the health of the wetland, but for the health of community members too.

Willing volunteers from GEKCO, the EWT, Bontle ke Tlago, WASSUP, Sticky Situations, Quali Health Diepsloot, Newtown Landscape Architects, Sustainable Horizons, Soweto Plumbing Academy, Pikitup, City of Joburg Region A, City of Joburg Environment and Infrastructure, JMPD, Joburg Water, Kyalami residents and the local community gathered from 11:00 to tackle the somewhat daunting task. By 13:00, more than two truckloads of waste had been collected, and the team was still working hard. All the organisations involved have committed to finding a long-term solution to the problem, and community members commented that they would like to see green grass instead of plastic in the future, and are hoping to find ways to generate income from waste removal.

Our sincere thanks go to GEKCO for organising this event and allowing us to be a part of making a difference in the lives of these community members.

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