The Knersvlakte Conservation Area recently appointed Ronalda de Vries and Helene Beukes as part of their Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) funded Conservation Assistants to the position of Pupil Field Ranger (PFR). The initiative is part of CapeNature’s strategy to build institutional capacity from within its ranks.
Since their appointments in May 2013, de Vries and Beukes who have become budding conservationist have already undergone Geographical Information System (GIS )and mapping training, as well as attending a soil restoration course held in Nieuwoudtville. Along with the Knersvlakte’s conservation team, the two PFR’s also attended the International Day for Biological Diversity celebrations held at the Hantam National Botanical Gardens which was observed on 22 May 2013.
More recently, de Vries and Beukes assisted with a scorpion survey conducted in the Knersvlakte by scorpion expert Reginald Christiaan from Soebatsfontein. The two PFRs and Melita Weideman who is a field ranger at the Knersvlakte Conservation Area assisted Christiaan with surveying the property during the evenings of the week long project. The surveys took the form of infield training which included topics such as commonly found species of the area, scorpion behaviour, venom, handling and capturing methods, equipment used and scorpion photography.
A total of 85 scorpions consisting of two species were observed, with 23 specimens being collected for genetic studies. The two species found were Parabuthus capensis and Uroplectus carinatus. A third possible species, U. lineatus, was found on a second fieldtrip.
Additional spatial and vegetation information collected provided the PFRs with an opportunity to work with the data collection software programme, Cybertracker. Further surveys will be conducted on other farms in the Knersvlakte Conservation Area in order to obtain a comprehensive species and distribution list.