Water… the sustenance of life, and sculptor of the earth. Wetlands – 29 – 31 March 2019

After a short two-week gap, it was time again for the group to meet up for our fourth 2019 Bushveld Mosaic camp, this time at the delightful Kgaswane Mountain Reserve. For most of us, it was our first visit to Kgaswane, and all of us were in awe about the beauty this little reserve has to offer.

The two usual suspects (no names mentioned) were the first to arrive, waiting in anticipation for our weekend co-ordinators to get to Kgaswane as well. Around 6pm on Friday, just about everybody was there, tents pitched, and chatting away in a very relaxing and jovial atmosphere as we did not have any tests to write on the evening.

On Saturday morning we got stuck into catchments, wetlands, rivers and all the related theory presented by Maria, assisted by Sue, and the ever-present Peter. The morning was filled with practical exercises including a brisk walk (for the younger ones) up the hill with a beautiful view overlooking the catchment and wetland area. The morning went by in a jiffy, and soon it was time for lunch.

Filled to the brim with lunch, the students filed into vehicles, and a small convoy of exited wetland enthusiasts, departed to fulfil the Saturday afternoon practical activities. A short drive through the pristine landscape had us arrive at our destination, a stream in the catchment area and headwaters of the Hex River. Soon the three teams got stuck into various chemical, other tests, and measurements to determine the quality and potential use of the water. We also had an exciting competition to see which team could build the best wetland in a bottle.  Needless to say, the best team, who, in the interest of harmony shall remain unnamed, won.

After a wrap up by Maria, we departed to Mushroom Rock for well-deserved, relaxing sun-downers. When the shadows started growing long, we returned to camp for our communal braai, where we were also treated with after dinner cake by our weekend birthday girl Tanya.

On Sunday morning the convoy departed again to do some further water quality testing, and to conduct a mini SASS closer to the middle zone of the stream. Fun was had by all of us, armed with nets to catch macro-invertebrates in different biotopes in the stream. Of course, there were the usual mishaps, a crab drew blood on one of the student’s fingers, and another student’s wetlands notes literally became wet, wetland notes – courtesy of one of the two usual suspects.

After the testing was done, macro-invertebrates identified, scores concluded and shared between the teams, there were some exciting distractions for the grass queen and photo king before we headed back to camp to write our wetlands test and breaking of camp.

A huge warm thank you to Maria, Sue and Peter for effectively guiding us through the different ecosystems which collect, clean, store and transport water. It was a great learning experience, yet a fun filled weekend. Since our bodies consist of up to 75% water, I can say we had a lotic weekend.

To our fellow students who could not make it to the weekend, sorry people, you missed out on a “waterful” time, birthday cake, and a couple of Hippotragus niger (Harris, 1838).

Honorary Officer’s slowly but surely, module after module, the holistic picture of the biosphere is taking shape… thank you!

Ed’s Note: Many thanks to student Quartus for providing us with this interesting report , on what was a very interesting weekend.

Credit for the photographs go to André Harmse and Quartus Malan.

Bushveld Mosaic a course for the curious, fun loving, serious, passionate or career-minded nature enthusiast!

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