Fast forward to our veld management weekend, we headed to Borakalalo Nature Reserve once again. We all arrived safely on Friday afternoon where we were greeted by the usual faces returning and, surprisingly, some almost forgotten faces! We headed down to the boardroom in the evening where we wrote our much-anticipated trees test and then returned to Fish Eagle Camp for the night’s rest.
We woke up to a cloudy Saturday morning with the privilege of being lectured on the importance of veld management by Prof. Bob Scholes, who is only the third South African to be awarded the honour of being a Foreign Associate of the US Academy of Science.
As we all know, a lecture is not complete without a walk in the bush. We later took a walk, headed by our lecturer, where we learnt (among other things) about the different soil horizons, sodic soils, the advantages and disadvantages of sandy and clayey soil, and what multi-floral crust is and how it is formed. We also explored various types of soil erosion and how they are formed.
Prof Bob made sure that we also learnt how to use all our senses, including sight, touch and smell to determine the health of the soil, and to determine whether the soil is sandy, loamy or clayey. We headed back to camp for lunch and then it was back to ducking branches and thorns as we went for a second walk wrapping up our lesson for the day.
We kicked of our cold, no-shower, Sunday morning with a very hot topic – fire. We learnt about the significance of fire in veld management and the many different properties fire has. We then took a short walk outside of camp where we learnt about the different methods used to determine the fuel load of an area, ending our beautiful and educative weekend with a short activity where we split into pairs and used the dry weight ranking technique to determine the fuel load of grasses in the area.
Too soon it was the end of what seemed like a brief weekend as we packed away our belongings, in the now hot sun, and headed back to our homes with a hot bath or shower uppermost in most of our minds and a whole bunch of new, life-long knowledge and appreciation for the age-old role of fire on the African continent.
In loving memory of a true friend of Bushveld Mosaic Prof. Bob Scholes. Always remembered. R.I.P.
ED’s Note: Many thanks to student Atlegang Raphiri for providing us with the Veld Management feedback. Many new things learnt.