2016 AGM

Notice of the 35th Annual General Meeting of the KZN Conservancies Association to be held at the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife conference hall, QE Park, Pietermaritzburg

Thursday 19th May 2016 at 10.00 a.m.


  • Welcome
  • Introduction of Trustees
  • Confirmation of Quorum
  • Attendance Register
  • Apologies
  • Approval of the 2015 Minutes
  • Treasurers Report
  • CEO’s Report
  • Election of Trustees
  • New members
  • Awards
  • General
    • Fundraising
  • Vote of Thanks
  • Close of meeting


Conserve Biodiversity: Plant Indigenous Sansevieria instead

Sansevieria (aka Mother-in-Law’s Tongue) is a Genus of leafy succulent type plants which grow in Africa and Asia. A number of exotic species are sold in nurseries and it is difficult to find out where they come from. They are easy to grow plants that do well in dry shady areas in the garden which are usually difficult gaps to fill. However, it turns out they are potentially not as harmless as I thought.

This article has been taken from the latest Sapia News No.37.

Sansevieria species are leaf succulents with horizontal, usually subterranean, fleshy stems (rhizomes—which produce roots and new shoots), often forming dense clumps. The leaves are stiff, fibrous and usually erect. The flowers are produced in spike-like clusters and the fruits are berries.

The West African Sansevieria trifasciata (photos 1a,b,c,d) can be distinguished by its tall, erect leaves, with distinct bands of lighter (often silvery) and darker green, and green (var. trifasciata) or yellow (var. laurentii) leaf margins. Both varieties and their many cultivars are potentially invasive in South Africa.

S trifasciata

The indigenous S. hyacinthoides has shorter, broader leaves which are mottled or have less well-defined banding; mature leaves have reddish margins (photos 2 a,b,c).

S hyacinthoides


The indigenous species are widespread in the summer rainfall region in eastern and northern South Africa, occurring in dry savanna, karoo and subtropical forest. They thrive under trees and amongst rocks. The three most widespread species in South Africa are: S. hyacinthoides, S. aethiopica and S. pearsonii.


  1. hyacinthoides (photos 3a,b,c), occurs in dry inland and coastal areas from the E Cape through KwaZulu-Natal to Limpopo. It is very variable, but usually distinguished by its broad, sword-shaped leaves which are either flattened or somewhat folded.
  2. S. aethiopica (photo 4) occurs in dry inland areas from the E Cape to Limpopo. Leaves are narrow, deeply channelled/folded with distinct bands, in dense basal clusters.
  3. pearsonii (photo 5) occurs in dry inland areas from northern KwaZulu-Natal to Limpopo. Leaves are rigid and cylindrical, ending in very sharp tips.
  4. hallii occurs in dry habitats in northern Limpopo.
  5. concinna and S. metallica occur in forest habitats in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

S concinna G Grieve Sansevieria concinna Photo: G Grieve

S hallii Ton Kulkens Wikimedia Sansevieria hallii Photo Ton Kulkens


More information on the Sansevieria species in southern Africa can be found in:

Pooley, E. 2005. Wild flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region. The Flora Publications Trust.

Plants of Southern Africa Online (POSA): http://posa.sanbi.org/searchspp.php

Van Jaarsveld, E. 1994. The Sansevieria species of South Africa and Namibia. Aloe 31: 11—15.

Walters, M. 2011. Dracaenaceae (Sansevieria), in Walters et al., Naturalised and invasive succulents of southern Africa. Abc Taxa Vol 11.

Slightly adapted with permission from Lesley Henderson’s article in Sapia News No. 37

Could Forensic Tracers help save our Cycads

By K. Retief, M. Pfab & Dr. A. West

The full article was published in the March issue of Encephalartos, the Journal of the Cycad Society of South Africa.


Cycads are the most threatened group of plants on Earth, with 62% classified as threatened in the 2010 IUCN global assessment. South Africa is a cycad diver­sity hotspot with 37 species in the genus Encephalar­tos, yet 78% are threatened with extinction. The great­est threat to our cycads is illegal harvesting from the wild. Three species are already extinct in the wild, four are close to extinction and another seven have fewer than 100 individuals remaining. The rate of loss has placed the existence of wild cycads on a knife’s edge.

E lehamnnii NR poachedEncephalartos lehmannii confiscated from poachers. Photo: Michelle Pfab


One of the greatest challenges to regulating this illicit trade is providing proof of wild origin once cycads are removed from the wild. A collaborative study between the South African National Biodiversity Institute and the University of Cape Town is developing a solution to this problem by using stable isotopes to distinguish between wild and cultivated cycads. Stable isotopes have been used in numerous forensic studies, such as determining the origin of drugs and ivory, and are now being applied to cycads.

So how do stable isotopes work?

Stable isotopes of an element have the same atomic number, but differ in atomic mass. They are called “sta­ble” as they do not radioactively decay, and so can act as a permanent tracer. Importantly, geographic locations differ in their composition of stable isotopes, leading to a distinct chemical signature that can be identified in the tissue of a plant from that growing location. This al­lows us to identify growing localities and potentially link formerly wild cycads back to their populations. Practi­cally, we sample the oldest section of the stem (possibly representing wild tissue) and leaves (grown in the cur­rent location) of a suspicious cycad and compare these stable isotope signatures with those of the wild popula­tion (see Figure 2). Radiocarbon dating is also used to determine when a cycad was removed from the wild.


The isotopes sampled from the base of the stem and the leaves will be completely different in relocated specimens.

Stable isotopes are advantageous forensic tracers because they cannot be removed from the plant. Thus a plant carries its history with it and can be examined in situ, without the need to have marked the plant before­hand in the wild.

Other advances in cycad forensics

Another new technology is the use of microdots, which are invisible to the naked eye. Microdots are simi­lar to microchips in that they have a unique reference tag, but instead of being inserted into the stem, hun­dreds are sprayed onto the outside of the stem. DNA fingerprinting of wild populations has also been done for some species, thus there is a unique DNA reference for these wild plants that can never be altered. The use of stable isotopes in combination with these other forensic technologies now provides the Green Scorpions with a comprehensive suite of methods for identifying cycads removed from the wild. These forensic methods may be the break-through needed for saving our critically threat­ened cycads from an extinction crisis.


Advances in forensic tracers are helping to deter­mine when and where a cycad originated from. This will not only improve detection of the illegal cycad trade, but will also ensure better management of the legal trade with cultivated plants. Proof of origin will facilitate com­pliance with the CITES regulations. Stable isotopes can assist in identifying suspect cycads during export and ensure that parent plants used to propagate exported seeds/seedlings are legal.

If you suspect a cycad origi­nated from the wild, do not purchase it and inform envi­ronmental officers in your region.


  • Cycads are listed as Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) in terms of the National Environ­mental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) of 2004, therefore permits are required for pos­session and translocation of all indigenous cycads or cycad material. (Note these are not the only restricted activities requiring permits for cycads.)
  • Harvesting of wild cycads without a permit has been illegal since the 1970s.
  • As from May 2012, it is prohibited to harvest, trade, sell, buy, donate, import, export, convey or receive any wild indigenous cycad (even plants that have possession permits).
  • Possession of wild origin cycads is also prohib­ited, unless they form part of legally obtained pa­rental stock where permits were issued prior to May 2012.
  • CITES permits are required for all imports and exports of cycads and cycad material. (South Africa has been a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1975. Cy­cads are listed in Appendix I, meaning that commercial trade is not allowed. However, artificially propagated specimens are exempt from this ban. CITES has defined strict criteria for deciding when a specimen is “artificially propagated”.)
  • Artificially propagated cycads with a stem diam­eter of more than 15 cm (or for dwarf species more than 7 cm) may not be exported from South Africa.
  • Penalties for contraventions of any of the above laws (e.g. collection, possession and trading in illegal cycads) are up to 10 years in prison, or a RIO million fine, or both.
  • If you suspect: The responsible action is to report any suspicious cycads or activities to the Depart­ment of Environmental Affairs’ Environmental Crimes Hotline on 0800 205 005



  • A cycad may be of wild origin if it has one or more of the following features:
  • micro-chip in the stem (the plant would need to be scanned to determine whether the micro-chip identifies the plant as a legal garden cycad or a wild cycad)
  • stem with strange deformities
  • over hanging stem shaped like a crescent
  • variations in the diameter of the stem (indicating varying growth rates)
  • long stems with small leaf bases (indicating slow growth)
  • compact, generally smaller leaf bases at the lower parts of the stem (indicating harsher wild condi­tions) and bigger leaf bases further up the stem (indicating milder garden conditions)
  • multiple side branches from the main stem burn marks on the stem from veld fires
  • stem sanded with wire brush or sand paper to remove burnt leaf bases
  • cut marks on the stem made from a panga when removing the cycad from the wild
  • deep holes in the base of the stem where poach­ers have tried to remove the micro-chip
  • absence of leaves
  • patches of leaf bases completely removed by por­cupine or traditional healers in the wild (very un­likely in a nursery)
  • numerous old leaves still attached to the stem or recently removed (this is the dress of the cycad, which is usually cut off in garden specimens).
  • no permit or the permit is not for the correct size and threatened status of the species


Posted by Alison Young (younga@ukzn.ac.za) with permission.

Conservation KZN

Click on this link for the latest issue of the new format newsletter: KZNCANewsletter(1)Feb2015

The AGM is not that far away

The KZNCA AGM is going to be held at Ezemvelo’s head office QE Park on 14 May.

But we’re planning to make this an AGM with a difference. We’re proposing to have no guest speakers this year because we really do need the time to properly discuss these important issues:

The proposed new Constitution (for PBO status)

 The revised KZNCA Business Plan

 Forums and the new Forum Operations Plan

 The proposed Conservancy Manual

 The proposed Association Trustees for the Board

 The new Conservation Committee and its function

We need at least one representative form each KZN conservancy to be there!



Jean Lindsay

After a long and courageous struggle with cancer Jean Dagmar Lindsay died on Monday 1 December 2014. Jean was a member of the KZN Conservancies Association for many years and was chairman from 2000 to 2004. In 2003 she became a founding member of NACSA. Her enormous contribution to Conservation included chairing the New Germany Conservancy and editing the KZNCA Guinea Fowl magazine. Jean was also a Durban city councillor and became the DA’s PR councillor in 2006. She quickly established herself as one of the “greenies” and the DA caucus often turned to Jean for advice on environmental issues.
NACSSA steering committee
Jean and the NACSA Steering Committee in 2003.


In 1988 she was presented with an M Net Green Trust Award on behalf of the Wildlife Society for her contribution to the work on the Metropolitan Open Space System.
In 1993 her work with the Fulton School for the Deaf’s Recycling Project resulted in the school being one of the finalists on the M Net green Trust Award.
In 1997 Jean retired after 30 years of teaching to pursue her interests in nature conservation and broader environmental issues
In 1999 she won the KZN Wildlife Conservation Award, in the Individual Category, in recognition of outstanding commitment and contribution to the natural environment of KZN.
Also in 1999 the Inner West City Council of Durban paid tribute to her for her service to the broader community in her conservation work.
In 2003 she won the WESSA conservationist of the Year Award. She has sat on a number of committees in various environmental associations, from Wessa and EEASA to The Natal Bird Club, KwaZulu Recycling Forum, EKZN Wildlife Honorary Officers and has been the Chairperson of the New Germany Conservancy and KZN Conservancies Association.
Jean Lindsay from Mark Liptrot
Working on the M13. Photo:Mark Liptrot.

On 25 June 2009 Jean Lindsay received a Kudu award from the South African National Parks (SAN Parks) for her contribution to Community Conservation in the Individual Category. The Kudu Awards are the annual conservation awards presented by SAN Parks to their staff and officials and in four categories awards are presented to members of the public.

In 2013 she won the Hardekool Award which is awarded to a NACSSA member who has shown lifelong dedication to conservancies and conservation in South Africa. The NACSSA Chairman’s Award is given to members of NACSSA who have shown outstanding commitment and service to NACSSA

Jean in September 2013 at the Durban Plant Fair.

Click here to read more: KZNCAJeanLindsay100115

New NEMBA regulations published

BREAKING NEWS! The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) published Regulations on Alien and Invasive Species (AIS) in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, on Friday 1st August 2014. They will come into force at the beginning of October.

A total of 559 alien species of plants and animals are now listed as invasive, in four different categories.  A further 560 species are listed as prohibited, and may not be introduced into the country.

Go to the Invasive Species South Africa website for the published regulations and species lists www.invasives.org.za

One of the major foci of the AIS regulations is on the early detection of and rapid response to emerging invasive species.  These are in Category 1a, in terms of the Regulations, requiring immediate control, including by all landowners. 

Thanks to Ms Lesley Henderson for the notification. Weed Scientist. ARC-Plant Protection Research Institute, Pretoria

SAPIA NEWS No. 33 (1.22MB)
Yellow flag Iris

Why are we talking about Heritage Conservation to environmental conservationists?

KwaZulu-Natal has been occupied by humans for more than 100 000 years, and you may be sure that anywhere in the province which offers good living conditions now was very similar most times in the past, and therefore was almost certain to have been occupied by people. The valley where Pietermaritzburg is situated, for example, has yielded up whole collections of artefacts from various cultures. So we could say that everywhere we look we may find evidence of past lives that have been lived in “our” environment and may well have had some influence upon it. Knowing this and finding the evidence can increase our interest in the environment and its value to us, providing an excellent reason for taking care of the signs of the past.
Stone tools
This is what we personally mean when we speak of Cultural Heritage, which may belong to the more recent colonial past (historical) or further back in time (prehistory: e.g. Iron Age or Stone Age). There are of course even deeper prehistories marked by fossils, and although we do not know of any hominid fossil sites in KZN, there are a number of precious plant fossil beds and animal remains, and for simplicity’s sake we would include them with Cultural Heritage in the list of “extra” things to be taken care of in a conservancy along with botanicals, fauna, water and soils. Looking at things that way gives a much more holistic view of our surroundings.
All conservancy members need to be aware of the remains of buildings, of old rubbish pits or heaps (middens), the marks left by iron-wheeled waggons, old graves, stone walling, broken pottery, rock shelters (which may contain rock paintings and/or a deposit containing artefacts, or perhaps just a scatter of stone tools), stone walling, iron smelting, signs of iron working on rocks near rivers, engraved boulders and pavements, and so on.
Panel      Running group
For those conservancy members involved in tourism – including educational tours – please be aware that artefacts such as stone tools or fossils may be poached, in the same way as rare plants and precious fauna!
We are not in any way a “police force” of any organisation, but we can perhaps put you in touch with the relevant specialists, such as museum staff or heritage agencies, if you need assistance. We can also assist you with research into the history of a site, or help to edit your web site copy or brochures.
We have a strong interest in history and even more so in archaeology. Our special passion is Bushman rock paintings which we have been recording for the archives at KwaZulu Natal Museum and which we continue to research. We have published two papers (one in the Museum’s Humanities Journal on Brother Otto Maëder and his work in copying rock paintings in the Kei River valley and the other in the SA Archaeological Society’s Bulletin on changes in painting styles of eland over time). We have reviewed two publications for The Bulletin and produced a visitors’ guide to the Cathedral Peak area of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park. The latter was a project undertaken as Honorary Officers for EKZN Wildlife.
Polychrome shaded eland
We are committed to heritage and environmental conservation, being interested in birds, butterflies, wild flowers and wildlife. We remain (founder) members of the Rock Art Recording and Research Unit, a sub-group of the KZN branch of the SA Archaeological Society, formed to assist staff of the Department of Archaeology at KZN Museum. All site information remains the private property of the landowner and information sent to the National Archives is protected. We have photographed many sites on private land but never without the knowledge and permission of the landowner.
Should you wish to contact us, please email Adrian on aflett@mweb.co.za or Penny on pletley7@gmail.com . Thank you.