Urban Route: Conservation Legacy
Experience the South side of Durban- Whale Research and conservation
Conservation Legacy Route:
Whale research and Conservation forms a very important part in our KZN Whale Coast brand.
It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. It is evident that because of our impact, marine ecosystems are drowning in trash, noise, oil, and carbon emissions. What we seem to forget is that covering more than 70 percent of the earth, our oceans are among the earth’s most valuable natural resources. They govern the weather, clean the air, help feed the world, and provide a living for millions. Because of overfishing, populations of marine species are either becoming depleted or very underpopulated in certain parts of the ocean. If we want future generations to enjoy the benefits our oceans provide, the time to act is now.
It is against this background that WILDOCEANS was born in the context of accelerated plans for development in the Southern African marine sector and the sustainable development goals of the Blue Economy.
Our Oceanic Research Yacht, the RV Angra Pequena, provides a unique platform for offshore marine science and capacity-building, and conservation expeditions. This classic 72ft vessel provides opportunity for sea-going mentorship to marine science students (the Ocean Stewards), conducts valuable marine research and provides a platform for conservation stories to be filmed and told worldwide. She is equipped with a crane, winches, dive compressor and a semi-rigid inflatable boat and offers a good platform for diver and deck observation studies. The RV Angra Pequena can stay at sea for over 30 days with a fuel range of 3000 NM.
Ocean Stewards exposes students to offshore marine research and aims to create a growing community of ocean advocates through giving them an experiential journey. This project aims to build capacity in the sector, while contributing to important scientific research that will help to build the case for the protection of our coastlines.
The Whale Time project aims to bring science, conservation, tourism and community together around the iconic humpback whale species that migrates along the east coast of South Africa annually. It provides a platform for a coastal community-based “citizen science” movement that brings benefits, not only for the conservation of whales and their ocean environment, but also for coastal communities. Citizens are asked to take pictures of any humpback whale sightings and record them on http://www.whaletime.co.za to contribute towards a catalogue process that will help scientists understand the species better and try decipher how many whales we have migrating along our coast. Whale Time is engaging and training tour-guides from disadvantaged communities, who are currently conducting tours at the Port Natal Maritime Museum in Durban to spread awareness about whales, their history, the opportunities they present and the threats they face. The hope is that all guides taken through this “Whale Time” learning journey will find employment as a Tour Guide or be equipped with the skills to secure permanent employment.
The Blue Crew, a team of local female entrepreneurs, hope to address both the environmental and social challenges linked to waste accumulating along our coastline. These ambassadors for the blue economy clean up our coast daily and inspire others to do the same. The Blue Crew also barter the waste they collect with the WILDTRUST (who then recycle it) in exchange for cash, and thus generate livelihood support for themselves whilst cleaning up critical ecosystems.
The Marine Protected Area (MPA) Expansion Project
The Marine Protected Area Expansion Project aims to build support amongst public and ocean stakeholders for MPAs by creating awareness of their value for the provision of ecosystem services, ocean risk mitigation, food security, ecotourism, moderation of climate change, and improving resilience to impacts of other global stressors. Underwriting the MPA Expansion Project is a social media advocacy and awareness campaign called “Ocean iMPAct” which hopes to help advance the protection of the oceans around South Africa within MPAs – 10% by 2020 and 30% strongly protected by 2030.
WESSA Treasure Beach
The Treasure Beach Environmental Education Centre on Durban’s Bluff is rich in history and ecological importance. It is also the site of the original radar tracking station for coastal defense during World War 2 and has one of the last remaining patches of coastal grassland. The Centre has been operational since 1985 and Offers a wide diversity of educational experiences to all ages. The roof of the building can be used by our guests as a viewpoint to watch whales and dolphins moving up and down our coast, while enjoying tea & scones. This can be combined with an interpretive stroll in their patch of unique Coastal Grassland (led by a guide). Good Birds, Insect life, photographic opportunities.
Bluff Nature Reserve (Forest & Wetland)
Our Bluff Nature Reserve is a gem of a spot right in the middle of an urban/industrial space. The trail around the pan is pleasantly flat from beginning to end and great for birding butterfly or frog spotting or a general self-guided nature stroll. The hide overlooking the Southern end of the pan is a perfect spot to relax, spot some of our shyer water birds or even have a sun downer. This spacious structure is also wheelchair friendly and fairly easy to reach in a chair from the ample parking.
Bluff Eco Park
The Bluff Eco Park has various activities and programs in place. A cycle track, bird walks for local old age homes and other interest groups. General nature interpretation walks for the public/guests. Basic bird, tree, frog, butterfly or snake identification programs are available.
Wilderness Leadership School
Art Gallery & Castle – Mary Stainbank grew up on the farm Ndaba Nkulu in what is now the residential suburb of Yellowwood Park- some 30 minutes from the Durban city
centre. The family farm was the original settlement of the Stainbank family when they arrived in Durban on one of the family owned steamships which used to ply from England in the late 1880s. In that time the new arrivals would gather in Farewell Square and then proceed by ox wagon to their new sites. Guided tours available.
Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve
Kenneth Stainbank is a 253 hectare reserve in Yellowwood Park, Durban, which was proclaimed in 1963. Established as a result of a bequest of land from Mr Kenneth Stainbank, the area offers fine examples of coastal forest and grassland habitats for many species of plants and animals. Notable species are zebra, bushbuck, reedbuck, and impala, blue, red and grey duiker, vervet monkey, rock hyrax, slender mongoose, bush-baby, egyptian mongoose, banded mongoose, water monitor and genet. The reserve has an interesting variety of indigenous flora and over 200 bird species on record. There are 13 km of nature walks and a pleasant picnic site is available. A walk for the physically disabled has been specially designed. There is also a 10km mountain bike trail which is fairly challenging in places.