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BOTTOM ROAD SANCTUARY ZEEKOEVLEI … The Cape Flats Lowlands has the highest concentration of threatened plants per area of remaining vegetation in the world. Bottom Road borders the northern bank of Zeekoevlei. Sand plain fynbos wetland once thrived on the northern shore. However, urbanisation took its toll and for many years people used the area for dumping. Residents, nature conservation officials, the national Working for Wetlands programme and the Table Mountain Fund joined forces to create a conservation sanctuary out of residents’ gardens. Tons of rubble and alien kikuyu grass were removed and replaced with tens of thousands of indigenous fynbos plants. Bottom Road Sanctuary now boasts the world’s second wild population of Erica verticillata, the Cape Flats Erica, which was once thought extinct.

In the heart of Cape Town’s suburbia and factories of Lotus River, Grassy Park, Pelican Park, Lavender Hill, the M5 highway, a rural retreat is being nurtured. Zeekoevlei, a gem, that under apartheid, was largely left unpolished – except for its pristine yacht club – is getting a makeover.

A resident of a property bordering Zeekoevlei has transformed this former alien plant choked jewel in Cape Town’s crown of wetlands into a rural sanctuary. Kelvin Cochrane, who comes from family of bakers and still earns his living this way, bought a plot in Bottom Road on the vlei in 2005. Since then he has been clearing the area of alien vegetation and reintroducing indigenous species.

About 300 different fynbos species have been cajoled into making the place their home, including a variety of Erica – Erica Verticillata – last seen in the wild on the Cape Peninsula almost 80 years ago and not found even at Kirstenbosch, South Africa’s world-renowned botanical garden.

When he began building his house, Cochrane envisioned the land bordering the vlei as a communal garden of indigenous plants with walkways enabling residents (and visitors) to stroll all around the vlei itself and savour a bit of wonder in the heart of the concrete jungle where most of us exist.

Impressed with what he’d done on the vlei area, these neighbours have since encouraged him to introduce indigenous plants into their own gardens and on road verges. It’s all about making endangered species, rare plants, commonplace and a normal part of the private and public garden.

In 2007, when he finally moved into the house that he’d built on Bottom Road, Cochrane developed the Eco Green Park in Last Road. That was at the instigation of a resident and on City Council land that had been a dumping site for building and garden refuse. The park has been used for parties. Even a wedding has been held there.

Cochrane’s plan is to extend the fynbos and walkway theme to the public part of the vlei so that it becomes a place of enjoyment and a respite from suburbia and township development.

Working for Wetlands has been donating plants, has helped with clearing alien vegetation and, now that the project continues to grow, are also helping with maintenance.

For more information, inquiries or a tour of this beautiful sanctuary please contact Kelvin Cochrane on 072 510 8066.

In the heart of Cape Town’s suburbia and factories of Lotus River, Grassy Park, Pelican Park, Lavender Hill, the M5 highway, a rural retreat is being nurtured. Zeekoevlei, a gem, that under apartheid, was largely left unpolished – except for its pristine yacht club – is getting a makeover.

A resident of a property bordering Zeekoevlei has transformed this former alien plant choked jewel in Cape Town’s crown of wetlands into a rural sanctuary. Kelvin Cochrane, who comes from family of bakers and still earns his living this way, bought a plot in Bottom Road on the vlei in 2005. Since then he has been clearing the area of alien vegetation and reintroducing indigenous species.

About 300 different fynbos species have been cajoled into making the place their home, including a variety of Erica – Erica Verticillata – last seen in the wild on the Cape Peninsula almost 80 years ago and not found even at Kirstenbosch, South Africa’s world-renowned botanical garden.

When he began building his house, Cochrane envisioned the land bordering the vlei as a communal garden of indigenous plants with walkways enabling residents (and visitors) to stroll all around the vlei itself and savour a bit of wonder in the heart of the concrete jungle where most of us exist.

Impressed with what he’d done on the vlei area, these neighbours have since encouraged him to introduce indigenous plants into their own gardens and on road verges. It’s all about making endangered species, rare plants, commonplace and a normal part of the private and public garden.

In 2007, when he finally moved into the house that he’d built on Bottom Road, Cochrane developed the Eco Green Park in Last Road. That was at the instigation of a resident and on City Council land that had been a dumping site for building and garden refuse. The park has been used for parties. Even a wedding has been held there.

Cochrane’s plan is to extend the fynbos and walkway theme to the public part of the vlei so that it becomes a place of enjoyment and a respite from suburbia and township development.

Working for Wetlands has been donating plants, has helped with clearing alien vegetation and, now that the project continues to grow, are also helping with maintenance.

For more information, inquiries or a tour of this beautiful sanctuary please contact Kelvin Cochrane on 072 510 8066.

FALSE BAY NATURE RESERVE

The False Bay Nature Reserve consists of six parts: Rondevlei, Zeekoevlei, Strandfontein Birding Section, Pelican Park Section, Slangetjiebos Section and Zandwolf Coastal Section.

Concerned bird lovers established Rondevlei as a bird sanctuary in 1952. Today, it is a well-run nature reserve, 290 hectares in extent, with a museum, an auditorium, a network of footpaths, viewing towers, and several bird hides named after well-known birders. There is a permanent wetland with Cape Flats sand fynbos to the north, and seasonal wetlands and Cape Flats dune strandveld in the south.

About 256 species of indigenous plants grow at Rondevlei. Rare and endangered plants are strongly nurtured: These include the Cape Flats cone bush (Leucadendron levisanus), the Rondevlei spiderhead (Serruria aemula foeniculaceae) and the Cape Flats erica (Erica verticillata), which became extinct in the wild. The Cape Flats erica was discovered in a botanical garden, and has since been propagated and replanted at Rondevlei.

In addition, there are 241 bird species, from ducks to herons, ibises, pelicans, weavers and more. Hippopotami (Hippopotamus amphibius) have been reintroduced, and there are 20 other mammal species, including Cape grysbok (Raphicerus melanotis), porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis), Cape dune mole rat (Bathyergus suillus), Cape clawless otter (Aonyx capensis) and large-spotted genet (Genetta tigrina). Twenty nine types of reptiles and eight frog species have been seen. The only indigenous fish present is the Cape galaxia (Galaxias zebratus), while introduced alien fish species include the common carp (Cyprinus carpio), banded tilapia (Tilapia sparrmanii), Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus), mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) and sharptooth catfish (Clarias gariepinus).

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