Editor's note

Our motto, “Protect nature. Inspire change” is something we live by and at times the change takes an unusual twist! Such is the case with our decision to move The Leopard’s Echo to an on-line edition. We are in the digital age and the downloadable PDF version was cumbersome to produce and  difficult for some to download via the dropbox system. Our new on-line edition is bolder and easier to read and more accessible to the increasing number of tablet/notepad users. Our designer Jo Sobey has done a great job in a very short time and I hope you will like the new layout and format. As always your feedback will be most welcome.

This edition is again packed with great articles on issues of local relevance. We have some new writers and are privileged that Richard Boon has agreed to write two articles for us on the trees of Kloof. Richard needs no introduction as most readers will have a copy of his book, Trees of Eastern Southern Africa on their shelves! In this edition Richard explains how his interest in trees developed and covers those iconic trees of Kloof that most of us are familiar with and often stand and stare at in amazement at their majesty.

John Waters, a retired geologist touches on a subject that many of us struggle to grapple with, geology! Krantzkloof Gorge is such an amazing geological feature that we had to somehow cover how it was formed and what it consists of.  The article is an edited version of a document John wrote for the Krantzkloof Honorary Officers of which John is a member. I hope his explanations will make you look at the gorge with renewed interest next time you walk through it!

Our Eco Impi interview in this edition is with Elsa Pooley, a great supporter of Kloof Conservancy and well known to most of our members through her regular presence at our Indigenous Open Gardens and the many tours and events she organises. Elsa has been at the forefront of a quiet environmental revolution and in this interview I explore her role over many years in popularising indigenous gardening and in particular the impact this has made in protecting our biodiversity. Elsa also allows us a peek into her life as she shares some of the events that helped shape her illustrious career.

Arend Hoogervorst somehow always manages to squeeze in his invaluable opinion column in between his frequent global travels while running his environmental consultancy. Arend reminds us of the challenges involved in “going green” and introduces us to a family who have “walked the talk”, the Ngewana’s.

I am thrilled that two of our new contributors have agreed to write for us on a regular basis and helped us develop a theme of “top 10” for this edition. Peter Spence, a conservancy member, is well known in birding circles for his encyclopaedic knowledge of local species, his involvement in the Bird Atlas Project and his role with the Krantzkloof Bird Club. Peter takes over the “bird pages” from Dave Bishop and introduces us to the 10 most frequently spotted birds in our area and their nesting habits – try drawing up your list before you read Peter’s article! We have been fortunate to obtain permission from well know environmentalist Warwick Tarboton to use his amazing photographs to illustrate the article.

Pat McKrill needs very little introduction as he is a regular at conservancy events in the Upper Highway and has also written a book on his favourite species, reptiles! In this edition he looks at the top 10 reptiles you are most likely to encounter in Kloof. Pat does not claim to be an expert but his practical experience and witty style make for a very good read on a subject we are all a bit cautious of!

Regular writer, Steve Woodhall is never short of words when it comes to butterflies and his articles are not only informative but also entertaining whilst his photos are nothing short of exceptional! In this edition he utilizes the information gathered through the LepiMAP Virtual Museum to identify and introduce us the 10 most frequently spotted butterflies in our area.

Another regular contributor, Robin Lamplough is tasked with explaining the link between our history and biodiversity. As a history teacher (now retired) he relishes the opportunity to explain some of the fascinating events that took place in the past and which have led to species names we take for granted without knowing much about their origin.

Still with our regular contributors Anno Torr, practical as ever explains how to help our gardens survive the combination of hot summer and low rainfall!

We also have a competition in this issue so don’t forget to have a go at it and stand a chance to win a copy of the very informative and beautifully illustrated Robert’s Nests and Eggs of Southern Africa by Warwick Tarboton.

I hope you will enjoy this edition.

Paolo Candotti