2014 started with wonderful news. After 7 long years of plotting and planning, the SIMSON- SIMONS NATURE RESERVE has been gazetted as a bona vide Nature Reserve.
Named for Diana’s father and uncle (Denis and Gerry Simson) and Johan’s parents (Jack Simons and Ray Alexander Simons), the reserve is part of a Cape Nature Stewardship Initiative whereby Province, Cape Nature and the Landowner enter a tripartite agreement to conserve the designated land. In this case it is 270 hectares and runs for 30 years.
|Top left: Denis Simson (1920 - 2007). Middle: Gerald Simson (1917 - 1979). Bottom left: The Simson brothers.|
Photo right: Jack and Ray Simons.
The process of getting here was long and involved and included demarcation of the 270 hectare area, charting the area and assessing it for aliens and erosion, and drawing up a management plan for the reserve. From there it went endlessly back and forth between Province and Cape Nature’s Legal department until finally the minister signed.
In all of this we owe very special thanks to Arnelle van Nooi of Cape Nature who drove the process forward with commitment and competence (not to mention being just special and lovely woman).
|Left: Arnelle van Nooi. Right: Johan meets with Cape Nature team.|
The declaration of the Reserve is wonderfully timed. Up to now the drive to sustainability of the farm has overshadowed any other focus, although in between we managed to do a lot of alien clearing (with help from Cape Nature and the PSI (Paardeberg Sustainability Initiative) and road maintenance (with help from Telkom). In addition, various butterfly, insect, bird, mammal and plant enthusiasts have done research on the mountain. Part of this research has involved the use of the motion camera which has picked up animals in the mountain we didn’t even dream were there. These include a leopard family, aardvark, and honey badger, plus all the usual suspects such as porcupine, various buck, tortoises etc.
|Caught on camera, left to right: Steenbok, Porcupine, Cape Leopard.|
|Aardvark, Honey Badger, Tortoise.|
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
Now we want to make the reserve a focus and build mountain bike and hiking trails, (including a long hike across the whole of the Paardeberg), as well as opening the reserve to wilderness training). And most exciting of all we would love to re-populate with more of the original animal population, including Mountain Zebra for which the Paardeberg is named. (paarde = horse).This we know will take hard work and subsidies as the process is very expensive.
We have always liked most that the farm can grow by simultaneously meeting the dreams not only of ourselves but of those of you connected with it. So please contact us if you would like to play a part in the development of the reserve, or know someone who might like this. Please use the reserve for what interests you, whether it be mountain biking or hiking, animal research or NGO work. We don’t believe a mountain can be owned. It belongs to all of us.