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Iphithi Nature Reserve: The Power of Community and a Model for the Future

I recently visited Iphithi Nature Reserve for my second time. Iphithi is a small 12 hectare reserve in the leafy suburb of Gillitts in the greater Durban area. Iphithi is well known among birders in the area, as it is one of the best sites to see the fairly range restricted Holub’s Golden Weaver. The weavers nest by the small dam in the centre of the reserve, and good photo opportunities can be had.

Holub's Golden Weaver

Of course there are not only birds to look out for, but a wealth of biodiversity including butterflies, frogs, small mammals, plants etc. One of my most exciting discoveries was a shade loving butterfly that I saw deep within the forest, called a Bush Beauty.

Bush Beauty

You may find it strange that I would dedicate an article to this small suburban reserve, but the real reason I wanted to bring it to light, was not just the birding and biodiversity, but by how impressed I am at how it is run and managed.

Iphithi is managed by the Gillitts Park Community Association and Gillitts Conservancy, and I would like to express what an exemplary job they are doing. Firstly there is the access control. There is a good fence around the reserve and access is controlled by a remote controlled gate which will open once you have paid your entrance fee of R10 via the Zapper smartphone payments app. The Zapper access has solved not only a security problem, but is also an upgrade on the honest box, while being techy cool, at the same time.

Then as you enter the reserve there are a few notice boards showing you some of the biodiversity that can be found on the reserve. There are also flyers on the board encouraging visitors to log their sightings using the iNaturalist smartphone app. Emergency numbers for the Gillitts Park Community association are also given. There is also a wonderful wooden deck that overlooks the forested valley below.

Walking through the reserve is a delight, as every consideration has been thought of. Areas that become muddy following rains have strategic walkways built. The reserve is pristine and I did not see one piece of litter. There are even small sections cordoned off with signs, indicating that in these areas alien plants are in the process of being removed.

I went to the Gillitts Park Community Association website to find a bit more information about them, and I was even more impressed. Not only do they take care of the environment, but they are active in community security, outreach and supporting local charities, as well as organising events and walks in the local reserves. I also visited the Gillits Conservancy website and was equally impressed.

In South Africa the government does little to nothing with your taxes to protect the environment and yourselves, but local communities can either complain or be proactive. Gillitts Park Community Association, Gilltts Conservancy, and the Iphithi Nature Reserve are an example of what can be achieved when a community comes together for the greater good, and implements innovative and well thought out plans to achieve a thriving environment for both man and nature.

Check out the Gillitts Park Community Association website and Facebook pages, as well as the Gillits Conservancy website.


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