Editor's note

This is a somewhat slimmed down edition in which we challenged Steve Woodhall (butterflies), Nicolette Forbes (birds) and Pat McKrill (reptiles) to search through their knowledge base and explain the importance of speed to their respective species and they have not disappointed! The articles and accompanying photographs are outstanding and help us, as laymen, understand these species better and maybe even look at them in a different light.

We welcome back Dr Jeanne Tarrant who takes a different “spin” on speed and explains the impressive ability of frogs to jump and, what may be a surprise to many readers, she also explains that some frogs can fly!

Dr Marlies Craig has written “Part 2” of the presentation on “Insects and their role in nature” based on a temporary exhibition which ran at the Durban Natural Science Museum. Nick Evans, with his inimical and very informative style explains the lives of “fossorial snakes”, those reptile species in our area that seem to enjoy most of the time below the ground!

Arend Hoogervorst is usually given free rein to choose a topic which will prod and poke our environmental conscience and he never disappoints! In this edition he raises the issue of Food Gardens at home which we intuitively know make sense but how many of us are willing to forgo the ease of picking up the veggies at our grocery store and get down to till the soil?

Our Eco-impi interview for this edition is with highly respected municipal civil engineer, Geoff Tooley. Geoff is a local lad and has been instrumental in finding innovative solutions to some of the challenges eThekwini faces particularly in regard to the more frequent flooding from short but intense rainstorms most likely brought on by Climate Change.

The 2nd edition of the Leopard’s Echo published as a paper printed newsletter in late 1997 and features a drawing by the late Greg Bosch.

As this is the first edition for 2024 it may be an opportune time to reflect on the value of The Leopard’s Echo. Those of you that have been long-term supporters of the Kloof Conservancy will recall that the magazine started as a paper printed newsletter with then chairman Barry Smith as the editor. The name “Leopard’s Echo” was chosen as it reflected a conservancy desire/goal for restoration of the environment given that the Leopard which had once graced the Upper Highway (last reliable sighting in 1973) was now extinct in the Kloof area.

The paper edition later became a glossy A5 booklet with Lindsay Gray as the editor and the final edition in this format was printed and published in January 2012.

The final edition of the A5 format edited by Lindsay Gray.

In November 2011 the Executive committee decided to introduce a monthly e-newsletter (with graphic layout by Christine Smart) to cover news and regular activities of the conservancy whilst The Leopard’s Echo was changed to a biannual in-depth magazine with articles on the local flora and fauna written by a panel of regular writers supplemented by guest writers on topics of local environmental interest. Sarah Chiles briefly took over as editor and the format changed to a PDF file which was e-mailed to members. The first PDF edition was published in June 2012.

The first edition of the monthly Kloof Conservancy Newsletter was published as a PDF and e-mailed to members in November 2011 and has been a reliable monthly publication since then.

The first PDF edition of The Leopard’s Echo as a bi-annual magazine was published in June 2012 and e-mailed to members.

Following feedback that members preferred a “paper” edition a final paper edition was printed to coincide with the Indigenous Open Gardens show in June 2013. This included sponsor advertising in one last attempt to cover the substantial cost of printing. Realising we could not consistently raise sponsor funding for the magazine we then reverted to the PDF file format before switching to the current online format (kindly hosted online by SOS Web Services) in early 2016 (Summer-Autumn 2016). The online version is edited by myself and the format provides a significant improvement to distribution beyond our membership base and greater flexibility for stunning graphic layouts by Jo Sobey.

The last PDF format edition in July 2015

Unfortunately we do not have the full history of The Leopard’s Echo so if any members or readers can help us fill the gaps it would be much appreciated.

Currently The Leopard’s Echo is accessed via the internet, on a dedicated website, by readers from across the globe. Many of our readers are ex-Kloof residents who still enjoy reading about our biodiversity. Readership has been steadily increasing and since the publication of the Winter-Spring 2023 edition in July 2023 we have had just over 10,000 people accessing the site (we can only monitor site access and cannot count unique readers so many will be return/repeat readers). South Africa (with Pretoria and Durban a tie for the most, followed by Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg) accounts for approximately 64% of readers followed by United States (10%), United Kingdom (3%), Mexico (2,5%) followed by Germany, Australia, Spain and Canada. Interestingly “old” articles are frequently accessed and on occasions top the list of most read articles in a month.

The first on-line edition was published in January 2016

Producing both a monthly e-newsletter and a bi-annual magazine is an onerous task so I would welcome your feedback on the value of both and your views on the frequency of publication as well as suggestions on content.

Paolo Candotti
January 2024