Sala kakuhle Renosterveld, until we meet again

Sala kakuhle Renosterveld, until we meet again

By Nande Notyalwa

It is mind boggling how quickly time flies. It was only two years ago that I started my career with the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT), fresh out of university and ready to take on the world. I still am, by the way. However, when opening a new chapter, we must bid farewell to the current one.

Working for the ORCT has been one of the best experiences I have had in my life. I was embraced by a determined and steadfast mentor Dr Odette Curtis-Scott, together with Grant Forbes, who are unwavering in their commitment to save renosterveld, but also as environmentalists. Under their tutelage I was introduced to conservation, not only as a career, but as a way of life. I have learned so many lessons as a young scientist, particularly working at the coalface of conservation. I have not only learned lessons on my career, but also intrapersonal lessons, which have helped grow my confidence and helped me find my voice.

How to test one’s conservation commitment

Living at Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve has been another highlight. One way to test whether conservation is the career for you is to relocate your life and go live in a nature reserve with the nearest supermarket being a 40-minute drive away, particularly in your early 20’s! But that is where my love of all things nature grew exponentially. The personal moments and interactions that I had with the plants, birds, insects, mammals and people are moments I will cherish forever.

From working with a boomslang outside your office, to a puffadder greeting you as you come back home, to a Cape Vulture flying overhead as you hang up your washing – these are true renosterveld memories that will remain with me. I have woken up to Black Harriers displaying outside my house as I have my morning coffee, small grey mongooses mistakenly running into the office, to watching a great battle between a Jumping Spider and an Inch Worm. I once encountered a Honey Badger in the early morning and fell asleep to the sounds of Spotted Eagle and Barn Owls.

A heartfelt thank you!

Working for the ORCT has enriched my life and experience as a young conservation scientist. I will take all the lessons I have received and apply them onto the next chapter of my life. The expertise I acquired enabled me to be accepted and continue my academic career with a Master’s degree.

A big and heartfelt thank you to Odette, Grant, Sharon, the LoveGreen team, the ORCT board, Janine, Max, Willie, my conservation colleagues and the entire Overberg community at large. Sala kakuhle Renosterved, until we meet again.