The weekend past saw the mini-reunion of what has tentatively become the ‘Baviaanskloof Nature Awareness Group’. The group consists of individuals with a passion for their local natural environment and who first came together last September as part of the inaugural Kenchaan Community Trail held at TerraPi (in the Kouga catchment). That particular event inspired them to form an idea (a movement, a group) oriented toward raising awareness of nature within their families, local schools and communities.
The reunion was a camping weekend held at Sewefontein Community Farm (in the western Baviaanskloof catchment) and attended by most of the original group. It was a chance for the group to rekindle friendships and connections, experience the Sewefontein (7 Springs) Tourism Trail (ably guided by Noël & Christo) as well as to reflect on their path ahead as a newly-formed group aiming to come to a shared vision for action.
The research aspect of this trail – and relevance to the PhD/eyes4earth.org – is to follow the evolution of meaningful nature experience as a potential motivation to reconnect with nature and act in the interests of community-based conservation.
Just as in the first trail, this particular weekend had a number of meaningful moments for some members of the group:
- At the first ‘counsel’ (where participants come together and sit around in a circle to share thought and feelings), a donkey appeared at the edge of the circle as one of the participants spoke of this weekend being a lead-up to cherished Christmas time with family.
- At another counsel aimed at chatting about the future of the group and their vision, a bird of prey/raptor was spotted circling high above with a snake in its talons. A number of members commented on the symbolism of this event.
- The final counsel of the weekend saw the group being joined by a small herd of cows which grazed and lazed contentedly in close proximity. The cows numbered the same as our camping group. A few interpreted this as significant – the nature awareness group sticking together as a herd after the trail.
- At sunset, as a portion of the group returned in the bakkie through the Baviaanskloof, five mountain zebra were spotted – again the number mirrored the people in the vehicle. It was the first sighting zebra sighting for some and years since the last sighting for others.
- During the first Kenchaan trail last September, the group felt ‘blessed’ that they had encountered fine weather (given that it rained on the day of departure on started raining after they returned…but was clear for the five days in between when in the bush). On this occasion, it again rained only on the days of departure and return when participants were in the bakkie. The days actually spent camping were almost flawless: except for a wild threatening storm cell which circled above and around one evening but fortunately dropped its heavy rain and wrath and at other localized areas in the valley.
Take from this what you will. They did. And some members of the group have subsequently drawn energy and motivation from this.