The Bastiaanskloof Estate, on the Bainskloof Pass, is 2500 hectares of valley, river and mountain between 300m and 1,600m above sea level. It is in the Hawequas range of mountains in a triangle between the towns of Worcester, Ceres and Wellington in Western Province, South Africa, some 105 kilometres north of Cape Town (1 and half hours drive).
As part of the Cape Floristic Region and more specifically the Boland Mountain complex it became part of the UNESCO World heritage site announced in 2004. The area is recognized as one of the eight biodiversity hotspots in Africa and by account of Global 200 and Conservation International one of the twenty five global hotspots. The estate is a mixture of Montane and Lowland Fynbos and has small patches of Afromontane forest.
The owners have carried out a number of audits since acquiring the property in 2004 with the assistance of the University of Cape Town, Birding Africa, WWF and the Cape Leopard Trust. These surveys have confirmed high densities of mammals, birds, insects and plants.
In the context of mammals, through the use of remote cameras in 2011, the Cape Leopard Trust was able to ascertain that 5 different leopard frequented the estate; At the other end of the scale Elephant shrews and Giant Musk shrews have also been found. Some 35 species of mammal have actually been sighted and the possibility of a further 20 species existing has been confirmed. Some 250 bird species have been identified and currently over 1,500 species of plant recorded including many species of Protea, Erica and Restio.
Unfortunately some 700 hectares of the Witte river valley that falls within the estate has over time become heavily infested with Black wattle (Acacia mearnsii). This wattle (some three species) has overtaken the natural fynbos environment and has turned the Witte river , through the leaching of tannin and pectin compounds from the trees, into a black water river with relatively few life forms. Since 2006 the owners have been working to restore the natural environment and to date some 40 hectares of wattle have been cleared. There has been immediate and strong regrowth from the many seeds left in the soil and work to contain the regrowth is continuous.
The owners of the estate are currently engaged in a programme of planting a wide range of indigenous species, some of which are endemic to the area. These species in particular include hardwood trees such as Podocarpus latifolius (Broadleaved Yellowwood), Rapanaea melanophloes (Cape Beech) and Sideroxylon inerme (White Milkwood),shrubs such as the Nylandtia spinosa (Tortoiseberry) and flowering plants such as Protea magnifica (Queen protea).
In addition, in conjunction with the SPCA and Cape Nature, a trial re-introduction of Angulate tortoises occurred in 2013. Further projects are planned.
Volunteer Conservation Programmes
There are a full range of activities that need to be engaged in to advance the overall conservation aspects of the Estate:
- Eradication of black wattle and hakea;
- Bridge building to access isolated river locations;
- Bird surveys;
- Soft trapping of small mammals;
- Tortoise monitoring; tree planting;
- Plant identification;
- Erection of bat houses and bat identification; and
- River bank clearance and amphibian audits in and around the two rivers.
For further information on our Volunteer and Gap year Conservation Programmes in which you can participate please fill in the enquiry form below and we will send you further information.