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Wanted! Philanthropists with hearts

Cape Town - Wanted! Philanthropists with hearts that beat to a fynbos rhythm and who have very deep pockets.

That was the appeal put out this week by three conservation bodies who have until mid-June to raise R9.2-million to buy one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse parts of the Peninsula and preserve it for future generations.

File photo: In his quest to discover new antibiotics, Van Staden dug through bacteria-rich fynbos soils in search for antimicrobial-producing bacteria.

The appeal relates to two of the five private properties making up part of the Roodeberg, the high-lying area south of the Noordhoek wetlands at Sunny Dale in the southern Peninsula that is described as “a mountain landscape of exceptional beauty and species diversity that is of global conservation importance”.

The Table Mountain National Park, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) South Africa and the Table Mountain Fund have collectively launched the “Restore the Roodeberg” appeal to help them raise the required funds and save this area for posterity.

The southern part of the Roodeberg is already part of the Table Mountain National Park and a popular recreational area. But the northern section consists of privately-owned properties, some of which were operated as a tourism venture of the now defunct Solole Game Reserve, opposite Masiphumelele.

National park planning manager Mike Slayen said they had been working for the past decade to consolidate the five private properties in this area into the park.

“To date three of the five properties have been incorporated by purchase and contract, which leaves two of the most vulnerable still outside of the park’s protection. These remaining properties are threatened with inappropriate development, and have been overwhelmed with fire-prone alien invasive vegetation, making the need to acquire them an even greater priority,” he said.

Onno Huyser, a former manager of the Table Mountain Fund and now WWF-SA’s Fynbos and Succulent Karoo programme manager, said that after extensive negotiations with the private owner they had secured “an excellent deal” to buy the two remaining properties. “We now have until June to raise the money.”

The conservation vision was to open up this previously restricted area to hikers, runners, dog walkers and horseriders while ensuring the land, with its diverse and unique species, was restored and conserved for generations to come, he said.

“In order to safeguard this area of global biodiversity, we’re now calling for help in raising the much-needed funding.”

Once the properties were acquired, the national park would initiate an invasive alien clearing and land rehabilitation programme that would create numerous job opportunities.

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