As part of our blog series on African protected areas, we will bring you at least one new “Photo Sphere” story every week. Photo Spheres are 360º panoramic images (think Street View) that can be shared on Google Maps, or with the Views community. Through the Street View partner programme, more and more remote places are making their way onto Google Street View. Where this is not (yet) the case, Photo Spheres allow the world an immersive view many of Africa’s protected areas. You can see a selection of Photo Spheres taken in Africa’s protected areas on our interactive story map.
In January 2014, the Western Cape’s official government gazette noted, almost incidentally (as gazettes do), that Mr. A. Bredall, minister of local government, environmental affairs and development planning, had declared 270 hectares of privately-owned farmland in the Paardeberg as a contract nature reserve, the legal equivalent of a state-owned nature reserve.
Although one might not, upon reading such a notice, immediately appreciate its significance, achieving contract reserve status nonetheless represent a mean feat. As the stewardship process requires significant investment from both the provincial authority, Cape Nature, and a willing private land-owner, only a few of the many special areas critical to achieving South Africa’s overall conservation targets can ever be negotiated to full reserve status through this programme. Since entering into it more than seven years ago, land-owners Johan and Diana Simons have worked with Cape Nature and other partners to demarcate and chart their property, assess it for aliens and erosion, and draw up a carefully drafted management and monitoring plan. After endless legalities, they finally saw that unassuming notice in the gazette, declaring a portion of their farm the SIMSON-SIMONS nature reserve.
So on this warm late-summer evening, as the sun was setting over koppies where quaggas once trotted and zebra may yet gallop again, Johan and Diana could finally raise their glasses of Dragonridge wine (their own label) with family and friends – a group that had grown to include Cape Nature’s unwavering Arnelle van Nooi.