Editor's note

For our January 2021 edition our regular authors were briefed to consider the subject of parasitism, mutualism and/or symbiosis in the context of their species and they have presented us with some surprising information.

Steve Woodhall explains why some butterflies are predators and not as meek as we like to think! Nicky Forbes highlights the belligerent approach of some bird species and as usual Pat McKrill presents us with some interesting perspectives on the subject as it relates to reptiles.

Dr Marlies Craig takes a different look at a simple strategy used by insects to cope with challenges to their existence – multiplication! Nick Evans in his species-specific series writes on Water Monitors and demystifies some of the perceptions but also shares some sad news on how these beautiful animals are ill-treated.

Our colleagues at BotSoc kindly permitted us to use a relevant article on parasitism originally published in PlantLife in 1997. The science has not changed, and David Johnson’s analysis accompanied by some great photographs by Graham Grieve make for compelling reading.

In the current climate we cannot escape from the broad impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and Arend Hoogervost as always questions our personal commitments to the environment in his Opinion Column in which he asks us about our acceptance or not of “the New Normality”.

Robin Lamplough as always looks at the historical aspects on our area and thanks to historian Adrian Rowe we have found two great aerial photographs that show what our area looked like going back to 1937 and 1950. When we talk about transformation of land habitat (and in particular our grasslands) we tend to think “it’s happening somewhere else”. The photographs in the article bring home the fact that we all need to accept some responsibility for the loss of vegetation and wildlife habitat.

We are privileged to have some exceptional guest writers in this issue. Kloof Conservancy has a long-standing constructive relationship with the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department at eThekwini Municipality and we are thrilled to bring you an article by environmentalist Jo Douwes who gives us an insiders and personal perspective on some of the resilience challenges facing the city. In tune with Jo’s theme we also bring you an article by Luci Coelho from Hillcrest Conservancy who has been the Project Manager for the Aller River Project in its last 3 phases. Luci sums up what the project set out to do and some of the results. Sadly this project is currently shut-down due to shortage of funds.

We are pleased to include in this edition an article by Charles Botha on the problems associated with using poisons in our gardens and the misconception that some “friendly poisons” may be ok to use. As Charles points out there “Even the “friendliest” of remedies will harm the small predators”.

Our Eco-Impi interview in this edition is with well-known environmentalist and author of the revised Pooley’s Trees of Eastern South Africa, Richard Boon. Richard is now based in Melbourne where he will no doubt be applying his considerable skills to help protect the biodiversity of Australia, but the article focusses very much on the significant contribution he made in our backyard!

As a bonus we are offering a copy of Richard’s highly regarded book to two lucky readers. Just send us an e-mail to info@kloofconservancy.org.za and in the subject line enter the answer the following question:

“Which species of tree is featured on the cover of Pooley’s Trees of Eastern South Africa?”

The competition will run until the 15th March after which we will notify the lucky-draw winners. The competition is kindly sponsored by the Flora and Fauna Publications Trust.

A special thanks to our layout guru, Jo Sobey for the many hours applied in getting this bumper edition ready for publication. Without her dedicated background work this magazine would not exist!

I trust you will enjoy this edition and as always, your feedback will be much appreciated.