Anecdotal story of Pretoria Trams circa 1933–1937,
relating to the Union Buildings Tram Line
The following is an anecdote by Mr Courtenay Smithers, who was in the process of writing notes about his early days in Pretoria for his family. It gives us a glimpse into the history of Trams in Pretoria, relating to the tram line to the Union Buildings, of which very little is known.
The story was published on
Excerpts of what he wrote:-
There were rattley old trams which ran to the Union Buildings but they ran along Leyds Street to and from Church Street where they connected with trams from Church Square, at the centre of town. For most of the day (and only on working days, if I remember correctly) there was only one tram which made the short run from Church Street to the Union Buildings and back, a small one which could carry only half the number of passengers which the usual "big" trams could carry It seldom carried more than one or two passengers on each trip and was often empty.
For many years the driver and conductor of the small tram were always the same men and we came to know them quite well. The conductor was a big, jovial, man who chatted to us as we ran alongside the tram but the driver was a much more surly character who didn’t like us at all. He would shout at us when we did so but this, of course, only encouraged us all the more to run alongside the tram and chat to the conductor.
The driver could do little to stop us. This small tram ran along Leyds Street to Vermeulen Street and then wound its way up the hill to join the road which ran along in front of the Union Buildings.
Now there is a road which follows the curving route up the hill where the little tram took its slow climb up the hill, making a whining noise in its low gear. Keeping up with the struggling tram was easy for us. In those days the tram line passed between the pine trees of the plantation which grew on the hillside. One of the boys who lived in Hamilton Avenue was a good shot with a "catty" and he enjoyed showing off his skill by bringing down a dove or two from the pines. The driver of the train didn’t like the boy; I suspect he was worried in case the boy let fly at him or the tram, but he never did.
Small boys usually know where to "draw the line". Inevitably, small boys being small boys, we sometimes put a little stone on the line for the tram to crush (with a loud bang, of course) as it went over it. We had our special hiding places amongst the trees where we couldn’t be seen but from where we could have a view of the tram. The surly driver never caught us at our mischief but he must have suspected that we were the culprits.
We occasionally sacrificed a penny from our meagre pocket money and put it the line so that it was squashed and flattened. Occasionally we lost our penny because it stuck to the tram wheel and was taken away instead of sticking to the rails. This was a sad event; we thought it quite unfair that we should lose our penny; sometimes we did find it further up the track.
At peak passenger times, when the office workers arrived and left the Union Buildings, the small tram was supplemented by a couple of big trams to provide enough space to cope with the extra passengers to and from Church Street where they could catch trams which took them into town and elsewhere.
Residents of Arcadia and Pretoria are mostly unaware that trams were used to serve as public transport in the early 1900s, later being replaced by trolley busses and eventually busses as we know them today.
Trams are loosely defined as light rail vehicles running on steel tracks, serving as urban public transport, designed to travel on streets, sharing road space with other traffic and pedestrians.
Horse drawn trams were first introduced in Pretoria in 1897started by The Pretoria Tramway Company with eight trams and 50 horses. When the horses were needed during the Boer War, the service temporarily came to a standstill, but resumed after the war in 1903.
Each tram had two operation stations, fore and aft, each with a bell to warn pedestrians of the approaching tram.
During 1910 the horse drawn trams were replaced by 14 electric trams. The Tram shed, corner of van der Walt and Schoeman Street, built with red Kirkness bricks from the Groenkloof quarry, was completed in 1912.
The tram routes were initially laid out from Church Square to the Pretoria Station, the Zoo, Sunnyside, Pretoria West, and the Ou Volks Hospitaal and only later extended to the Union Buildings and Arcadia south of Church Street, turning into Pretorius Street east of Leyds Street. This route only linked directly to Church Square.
The map shows the Tram Routes in solid red lines starting from Church Square towards the Union Buildings and to all the other destinations. A tram shelter is still in existence at the Church Street turn off into Nel Street, albeit in a bad condition.
The first trip was from Church Square to Sunnyside. The last trip was made from Church Square to the Station and then parked in the Tram Shed in van der Walt Street on the 19th August 1939.
It is unclear wat happened to the trams after being replaced by trolley busses, which still used the overhead powerlines but ran on rubber wheels independent of the tracks.
During that time Church Square functioned as an active centre of the city to be developed with fountains gardens and paving.
Due to the steep hill from the Nel Street turn off the tracks had to take a wide turn toward the Union building thereby to decrease the gradient. This lead the route through the pine tree wood still in existence west of the road snaking up to the Union Buildings.
Is there anybody out there to help us find more photos and information on trams in Pretoria?
Information was sourced from the Union Building CMP collection, newspaper articles in the Pretoria News of 27 January 2014, the Pretoria East Record of 11June 2014 and from Google images and Wikipedia.
1. Two trams waiting at Church Square with the Tram Station in the background. Note the poles for the overhead powerlines onto which the trams were connected.
2. An example of a horse drawn tram as used in Johannesburg. Note the undercarriage with
four steel wheels.
3. Map showing the Tram Routes.
4. Tram travelling along Church street. Not tracks both sides of the transmission posts.
5. The only known photo in existence of a tram parked near the Delville Wood Memorial at the Union Buildings.
6. Tram tracks and Transmission Poles on the lower road during the completion of the Union Buildings Circa 1913.
7. Tram tracks unearthed during the Church Square upgrade for the 2014 A Re Yeng rapid buses.
Saturday 15 September
Sunday 21 October
Saturday 27 October
Halloween Trick or Treat
Friday 7 December
Annual Community Party
Scout Hall garden project and moms and kids group
I am sure that these words are familiar to all of you. Familiar because you have heard them many times, but also because the cyclical and seasonal nature of everything we know, is a deep, shared experience of our human existence.
In our western world we have learned to place greater emphasis on linear thinking. The belief that life experiences have a beginning and an end, and that you’ve failed if you do not complete the race. Ancient cultures were , much more in touch with the cycles of life and the repetition, of beginnings and endings. Seeing everything in spirals, rather than one long line, is much less daunting and also allows for improvement through repetition – living in the moment, rather than running the race to get to the end.
How does this relate to the Scout hall, the community garden and the moms and kids group?
Through the Scout Hall project I have once again become so aware of the above.
We had the first meetings in October 2015 – at that stage I was pregnant with Nikolas. By June 2016 Nikolas was 4 months old, the Scout hall had had its facelift, the jungle gym was up, we started the regular ‘play’ times and we sold our first vegetables.
The second year of the projects required tenacity, through the drought, a regrouping of the Families involved and a commitment to a financial contribution and regular involvement.
We are now in the 3rd year of these projects, and they are starting to bear fruit. The Scout hall is being used on a regular basis, by a large variety of groups for many different purposes. Our play community has grown to include many families from areas beyond the borders of Arcadia, and continues to do so.
Our organic vegetable and herb sales have grown, we are still selling to Foodieness on a weekly basis, and have our regular customers who support us on a weekly basis. Our vegetables and herbs are fresh, organic and local.
Just recently we have added a e-waste collection day to the attractions of the Scout hall. This was very well received.
I am excited to see how these projects will continue to grow and bear fruit. The Scout hall has enriched my life, and the life of our family and community in many wonderful ways. The interesting conversations, the diversity of people, the growth of Nikolas and his friends, the growth of delicious vegetables, herbs and plants, and the support of so many of you. Thank you. May this place continue to be a place where community happens and where we witness the changes in the seasons, as they happen.
Ecclesiastes 3 King James Version (KJV)
3 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
The weekend of 18-20th May 2018, 10th Arcadia's own scout troop took part in one of the biggest annual, provincial scouting competitions of the year, Kontiki, with the theme of Middle Earth. To participate each scout troop needs two selected crews, one for on-land support and the other to use the raft for twenty four hours, to design and build a raft to be tested in challenging weather, waters and currents. This tests each child's capabilities to take on responsibility and commitment through mentally and physically
As challenging as it is to paddle three heavy paddle wheels through strong currents and winds with six children, both crews taking place in the competition go through numerous challenges.
The on-land supporting crew had to juggle entertainment for small children, sustainment of a campsite, cooking for judges and themselves with 'pioneering' of kitchen tables, a huge entrance and sling shot. This was executed while the raft crew spent numerous hours creating complex, blistering knots that would keep them afloat while taking places in competitions for speed, distance and cooking. The Kudu's patrol leader, Nyeleti Khoza, stated that while building the raft that others mocked seeing as how we were juniors and inferior and young compared to our old raft crew but once they witnessed our final product , fear was struck into their hearts.
Quoted by Chris Baron, their Scout Trooper about Kontiki : "boasting the largest scouting event in the Southern Hemisphere, this competition attracts upwards of seventy five scout troops and around five to six thousand spectators. It is a raft building competition that highlights the pioneering and team work capabilities of the troops that enter it. We have consistently placed top ten in all the various aspects of the Kontiki competition."
Normally the forecast of the weekend of Kontiki are foretold to be cold and rainy but surprisingly for the first time in six years there was sunlight and warm weather which stunned most scouts because "Kontiki and rain are best friends. Without rain you don't have the proper culture and challenges of Kontiki that builds the character of a scout been to this competition." states the patrol leader of the Cobras, Jeannette Meyer.
The raft is built with only ropes, poles and homemade paddle wheels with the design practiced by being built several times leading up to the day. On the weekend of Kontiki the scouter, Dylan Thatcher, states that everything that can go wrong will go wrong which is why a scout always needs to be prepared. With a young troop and new crews, 10th Arcadia took Kontiki on head first with all they had. Their efforts were well payed off placing second overall, third in raft construction, third in cooking inland, third for campsite construction, second in raft pioneering with one point away from first, first for the spare time activity, first for inland support overall, first for team spirit, first for model raft and second for raft overall.
The patrol leader of Buffaloes, Kabelo Leshomo, and our raft captain states "This is tenth Arcadia's panicle of success." But the troop believes there is much more awards through working smart and dedication to come with Kontiki and further scouting competitions.
Many property owners believe they have the right to do anything they want to when it comes to building alterations. The National Building Regulations & Building Standards Act (No.103 of 1977) stipulates that no person may erect, alter, add to, or convert any building without the prior approval of the Local Authority.
So if you are considering alterations, you should probably begin by talking to the planning department of your local municipality. Whenever the nature of the work involves excavation of land, electricity supply, plumbing and drainage, you must contact your Local Authority to find out exactly what is required.
If you are intending to erect a boundary wall, Council approval is required.
If you are putting in a swimming pool, there are rules and regulations that have to be complied with and a plan is required. If you have decided to add another storey to your existing dwelling you will require an engineer’s report and plans must be submitted. Another very important aspect is if your building is going to be used by the public you will require a fire protection plan.
Generally you do not require plans for internal renovations provided you are not knocking out load-bearing walls – walls that are integral to the support of the building. If they are support walls, you will require planning approval. Internal remodelling like putting in a new bath or revamping the entire kitchen do not require plans, but if you are putting in a fireplace you DO require approval as there are fire regulations involved.
Every case is different, and the regulations can be a bit of a minefield - but your local building inspectors will usually advise you of the process. (Just the process, though: they won’t do any of the planning work for you). The extent of the work you are planning, conditions laid out in the title deeds, the age of the building, and the position of your property would generally determine which planning professionals you will need to appoint.
You need to consider three basic areas: zoning, heritage, and the national building regulations.
The zoning scheme regulations that cover your property will dictate factors like the uses to which you can put the land, the number of residential units you’re allowed on your stand, and so on. You may have to get consent use from your neighbours if you want to deviate from the regulations - and your architect or architectural technician would be able to help you with that process.
Besides physically drawing the plans for your project, he or she will also advise you on what you need to do to comply with the new energy-use regulations. If your building was originally built before these new regulations came into effect, you will probably need to consider a number of options that will bring you in line with the new rules for energy efficiency - and your planning professional will help you with this.
The law now requires that local authorities can only accept building plans for approval from people who are registered with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (www.sacapsa.com)
You should check the heritage status of your building: if it’s older than 60 years, you will need to approach your provincial Heritage Authority before you make any changes - although your local municipality’s Heritage Desk will possibly also be able to advise you. (For a general discussion, and information about the regulations concerning heritage and the built environment, see SAHRA - the South African Heritage Resources Agency.)
Depending on what you want to do, where you want to do it, and under which version of the environmental legislation your title deeds were registered, you may also need to comply with certain provisions regarding the environment when it comes to larger alterations or projects - and you might even need to commission an environmental impact assessment before you begin.
At the ARRA AGM held on 7 March 2018 the following residents were elected to serve on the ARRA committee.
Mrs Linda Tyrrell was re-elected to the position of Chairperson.
Mr Flor Healy was re-elected to the position of Vice-Chairperson.
Mr Francois Burger was re-elected to the position of Secretary.
Ms Helen Rakotomalala was re-elected to the position of Treasurer.
Sub-committee Chairs were unanimously re-elected to the following portfolios:
Planning & Zoning: Ms Ina Roos
Heritage: Mr Claus Schutte
Environment & Recycling: Dr Rita Burger
Crime & Security: Mr Flor Healy
Service Delivery: Mr Peter Blersch
Ward & Electoral: Mr Francois Burger
Membership & Fundraising: Ms Penny Blersch
All these members will serve on the Management Committee.
Nin Kai Bujutsu Warrior Strategies teach adults and children (minimum age 12) to defend themselves in a wide variety of situations and settings. The ancient survival art of ninjutsu can be adapted to modern-day realities such as avoiding conflict, dealing with sexual harassment or assault, and staying safe on the road and in social settings.
Techniques taught include strikes, throws, ground fighting, using weapons and using anything in your environment as a weapon, defending yourself against multiple attackers, awareness of environment and escaping from life-threatening situations.
Sensei Riku has been teaching for more than 30 years and is a qualified instructor in To-Shin Do and Discovery Martial Arts. He is the founder of Nin Kai Bujutsu Warrior Strategies.
Contact Riku today on 081 285 3870 or email@example.com
Schedule your free introductory class
Tuesday and Thursday at the Scout Hall, Beckett Street
Beginners: 18.00- 19.00
A student’s story
“In January 2016, a friend and I were hiking at Groenkloof Nature Reserve when we were attacked by two men. My friend, Carmen, was hit on the head with a rock and fell down, screaming and bleeding. I had only been training in ninjutsu for a year, but I believe it helped because I remained calm and thought only of how we could get out of the situation so I could help my friend. My attacker grabbed me by the throat but I got away from him. When his friend realised that I was not going to be a pushover, he came over to help. In the scuffle, I fell backwards, but managed to kick the nearest attacker in the thigh – so hard that he rocked backwards. The men gave up, grabbed my bag and ran. I believe that if I had not had some training the situation would have been a lot worse. The attackers – repeat offenders – had previously stripped people, tied them up and took all their belongings, including clothes and shoes. Ninjutsu taught me to remain calm in the moment and defend myself when I saw an opportunity. I have been privileged to train at Nin Kai Bujutsu for three years now. As a senior student benefitting from sensei Rick Bothma’s 30+ years of training and experience, I am growing to appreciate just how rich and vitally important the modern-day applications of this ancient art really are.”
Fiona Zerbst – Senior Student Nin Kai
Safe to Day , Alive Tomorrow
Nin Kai Bujutsu Warrior Science
185 Beckett St, Arcadia, Pretoria
Mobile: 081 285 3870
by Celéste Scheepers
As totally expected, my studies in animal health is providing so much knowledge in the complexity of anatomy and physiology, it makes you want to know even more. So many functions and processes are at work to keep a body properly functioning, that even the tiniest imbalance can have a large impact on the health and wellbeing of your animal. I will try to look out for interesting case studies and conditions that we as pet owners can observe in our own animals and get them the proper care and treatment before too much damage have been caused. By no means my infant knowledge can diagnose or treat, but I would like to share some signs or symptoms you may observe and you can consult your veterinarian hopefully sooner than than later.
One of the most interesting systems in the animal (and human) body have to be the endocrine system. The endocrine system messengers, hormones, are produced by the endocrine glands. These hormones travel through the bloodstream all through the body, to distant cells and tissues, where they produce their effect.
In this piece I would like to talk about Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH). The word “antidiuretic” tells us what this hormone does. It prevents polyuria – a condition in which much greater amount of urine is passed than is usual (the loss of large quantities of water in the urine) and therefore, it helps the body conserve water in times of short supply by acting on the kidneys. ADH causes the kidneys to reabsorb water form the urine they produce and put it back into the bloodstream. ADH is released when the hypothalamus detects a water shortage (dehydration) in the body. The ADH travels down to the target organ, the kidneys, and cause it to conserve water by not “loosing” it when passing urine.
Disease or condition caused by a deficiency of ADH in the body.
When the body is not able to produce sufficient amounts of ADH, the disease Diabetes Insipidus develops. Animals that develop this disease produce large quantities of very dilute urine (polyuria). Because of losing too much water, the animal is forced to drink a lot of water and this is called polydipsia. An animal with Diabetes Insipidus will therefore pass a lot of dilute urine and at the same time be drinking lots of water. Such animals are treated by giving them an injection of ADH.
Diabetes Insipidus has been reported to occur in dogs as a result of fright. Signs include poor appetite, dull coat and frequent urinating in the house. Polyuria is also encountered in cage birds an is often confused with diarrhoea. Other disease conditions may also produce polyuria, therefore a complete diagnostic workup is necessary to in fact confirm the diagnosis of Diabetes Insipidus. The condition is treated by administering a drug with ADH activity for the rest of the animal’s life.
Many medical words and jargon, but the bottom line is that we as pet owners are responsible to watch them closely, observe any abnormal behaviours or symptoms and get them the proper care as soon as possible. Looking forward to share some more interesting and relevant facts with you!
Sources : Clinical Anatomy and Physiology. Thomas Colville & Joanna M. Bassert. Black’s Student Veterinary Dictionary. 22nd Edition.
My son is 2 and notices his papa from time to time – Mama is the firm favourite. His boring papa that sits at the computer all day, fiddling with the keyboard. So inane from the height of a 2 year old, so boring, so still. When it started to rain on the Saturday afternoon of the Easter Holidays my son coaxed me to go outside with him. “Experience the rain Papa”, he seemed to say. This is the poem:
as the raindrops fall
a little voice rises
the drops fall
his voice meets them
as the raindrops fall
his papa is beckoned
“come, come” it says
he knows the magic of water
as the raindrops fall
the lighted sky rumbles
and nature welcomes
knowing the precious moment
as the raindrops fall
the Easter wind gentle
an autumnal day cool,
each step effulgent
as the raindrops fall
the axis of life revolves
a kaleidoscope of green
“come, come” he says
this is the falling rain
visit fieldpoet.wordpress.com for more.
© 2018 fieldpoet. all rights reserved.
Ginger is a popular ingredient in cooking, adding flavour to many dishes, especially in Asian and Indian cuisine. This flowering plant, originally from China, has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes.
It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family and is closely related to turmeric and cardamom. The root or underground stem (rhizome) of the ginger plant can be consumed fresh, powdered, dried as a spice, in oil form, or as juice.
The unique fragrance and flavour of ginger come from its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol, a bioactive compound responsible for its possible health benefits: relieving nausea / morning sickness and loss of appetite, reducing pain and inflammation, helping digestion and reducing infections.
Cold and flu relief
During cold weather, drinking ginger tea is good way to keep warm. It is diaphoretic, which means that it promotes sweating, working to warm the body from within.
To make ginger tea at home, slice 20 to 40 grams (g) of fresh ginger and steep it in a cup of hot water. Adding a slice of lemon or a drop of honey adds flavour and additional benefits, including vitamin C.
This makes a soothing natural remedy for a cold or flu.
Recipe tips for ginger
Fresh or dried ginger can be used to flavour foods and drinks without adding unnecessary salt or sugar.
Ginger pairs well with many different types of seafood, pork, chicken, pumpkin, rhubarb, oranges, melon and apples, to name a few.
When buying fresh ginger, look for a root with smooth, taut skin with no wrinkles and a spicy aroma.
Store fresh ginger in a tightly wrapped plastic bag or container in the refrigerator or freezer and peel and grate it before use. If fresh ginger is not available, you can use dried. In most recipes, one-eighth of a teaspoon of ground ginger can be substituted for one tablespoon of fresh grated ginger. Ground ginger can be found in the herbs and spices section of most grocery stores.
Tasty ways to use fresh or dried ginger:
• In a smoothie or juice
• In a stir-fry
• In a homemade salad dressing
• Spice up any fish recipe
• Add it to roasted vegetables
• In a winter vegetable soup
• In a slow cooker Thai coconut curry
• In gingerbread cookies
Ginger is a super way to add spice and flavour to dishes, but it is better to seek dietary sources and eat it as part of an overall diet, rather than using supplements.
(Sources: Healthline.com & Medicalnewstoday.com Websites, May 2018)
One of the nicest things about living in Arcadia is the
freedom to walk your dogs at any time of the day in a safe, beautiful environment. In a world where many different species enjoy walking each day, it is important to understand the rules of the road for canines.
The rules below are not hard and fast, they are not legally binding and they aren’t meant to be regulated. They are intended as good “common sense” rules for any pets who enjoy walks. Owning a pet is about being a responsible pet owner. You are responsible for teaching your pets good etiquette as they will not learn from others.
1. Respect personal space. There are people who will not love your dog. Even fellow dog lovers are hesitant around other breeds. Some small-breed lovers will be in complete fear of your large-breed dog no matter how friendly, and vice versa. Never force your dog on another person or animal.
Teach your pet to keep his nose to himself. People don’t generally like to be sniffed—particularly if they are running or walking or just enjoying the day. Keep your pet under control and never allow her to pull at the leash in search of a quick sniff of another dog or person.
2. Leashes are required. Besides being good common sense, leashes are required by law in public spaces unless otherwise stated. It doesn’t matter if your dog is friendly, it doesn’t matter if your dog always listens. Cats, cars, other dogs or even a loud noise could cause your dog to take flight which might put him or her in harm’s way. Keep your leash short. This can help eliminate problems with tangled leashes, territorial sidewalk users and other such problems.
3. Clean up after your pet. No one enjoys stepping on dog poop or having to watch where you walk all the time. Carry a plastic bag/bags with you and clean up after your dog. This is becoming a problem in our area, particularly Government Avenue. People who fail to pick up after their dogs give all of us a bad name. Don’t be that person.
4. Not all dogs are friendly. You should never assume that because your pets are friendly, other people’s pets are friendly, too. Don’t allow your pet to approach other animals without an invitation. You never know how controlled the other animal may be. It is really difficult for dogs to socialize on a leash. The leash can add a layer of tension to an otherwise smooth encounter.
5. Announce your arrival. When running or walking with your dog, it’s always polite to inform those ahead of you that you’re coming up behind. This can be done with a simple “Behind you” or “To your left” announcement, letting them know you’re planning to pass. This is particularly important when using public pavements.
6. Pay attention. If you notice potential distractions (like cats, birds, other dogs etc) before your dog, you may be able to minimize your dog’s reaction. You can get your dog to sit and look at you while the distraction passes. Keeping some tasty treats in your pocket will help your dog to focus on you.
7. Stop and sit at crossroads. Your dog should always stop before a crossroad and sit quietly beside you. While not all dogs can be trained to do this, it’s important to work up to it. Not only that, it could save their lives if they ever got loose.
8. The five training commands. Come, drop, leave it, heel and sit-stay are the five basic commands every pet should know before walking out the door. If your pets cannot do these things, you should focus your training until they can.
A resident of Arcadia recently spotted a couple of owls in East Avenue and wondered whether they are prevalent in this area or indeed in the urban landscape as a whole.
Due to their nocturnal habits, many people are unaware of owls in the area but in Pretoria, one might be lucky to spot the following owl species:
SPOTTED-EAGLE OWL (BUBO AFRICANUS)
The Spotted Eagle Owl is a medium-sized owl with conspicuous ear-tufts and yellow eyes. It is also known as the African Eagle Owl. This owl is often found in urban areas throughout South Africa. The larger birds of prey, like the Spotted Eagle Owl, all require larger trees with string branches to take their body weight and wing-span.
BARN OWLS (TYTO ALBQ)
The Barn Owl is a medium sized owl with no ear-tufts and a heart-shaped face. These pale, nearly worldwide birds are closely associated with man through their traditional use of barn lofts and church steeples as nesting sites. The species name "alba" refers to the colour white. Other names for the Barn Owl have included Monkey-faced Owl, Ghost Owl, and Church Owl. In South Africa the cosmopolitan barn owls tend to stick to the outskirts of the city. They are prolific breeders having up to five chicks per clutch. The barn owl is not afraid to utilise manmade structures to make their nest in.
AFRICAN GRASS OWL (TYTO CAPENSI)
The African Grass Owl is a medium-sized owl with long legs and no ear-tufts. It is also known as the Common Grass Owl. They can be found in the Midrand area of Johannesburg. It is an endangered owl species and looks a lot like a barn owl. It is a habitat specialist nesting and feeding in marshes, vleis and flood plains. They nest on the ground in thick grasses.
MARSH OWL (ASIO CAPENSIS)
The Marsh Owl is a medium-sized owl with a rounded head and small erectile ear-tufts. It is also known as the African Marsh Owl. The marsh owl occurs where its name dictates – marshes, vleis in dense and grassland areas and like the grass-owl it too nests on the ground. If this type of grassland habitat is near a residential area then chances are the marsh owl occurs there.
PEARL-SPOTTED OWLET (GLAUCIDIUM PERLATUM)
The Pearl-spotted Owlet is a very small owl with a rounded head and no ear-tufts. The name comes from the pearl-like white spots above the shoulders of this owl. This owl can be spotted in the north of Pretoria. For a small owl it has a very distinct call. The pearl-spotted owl nests in old woodpecker holes.
Owls are not too fussy about the species of tree they roost in but they do have some preferences. Generally owls prefer large trees that can take their size but still provide some camouflage and protection for them while they rest, like dark shady coniferous trees. The larger species like the space dead branches provide. Dead branches or trees are important when nature scaping.
Some large indigenous trees that provide ample shelter for owls would be:
• Cape ash (Ekebergia capensis)
• Jacket plum (Pappea capensis)
• Large bushwillow species (Combretum)
• The apple leaf (Philenoptera violacea)
• Weeping boer bean tree (Schotia brachypetala)
• Wild plum (Harpephyllum caffrum)
• Yellowwoods (Podocarpus species)
HOW TO ATTRACT OWLS TO THE GARDEN WITH OWL BOXES
• Most owls nest in cavities and holes in large old trees that are generally dead. However, in an urban setting these trees are removed for safety reasons. Enter the owl box, which is designed to replicate nature. It can take a month to five years for an owl box to be occupied.
• Research shows that South African owls don’t seem to mind what type of tree the owl box is in as they we will even nest in owl boxes on gum poles and buildings. However, owls do seem to prefer nesting sites high up in a quiet secluded part of the garden away from noise and disturbances.
• In South Africa, or any other southern hemisphere country, homes face northwards to maximise on the winter sun and summer shade. Something similar can be said for birds, except cavity nesters like barbets and owls. They are more concerned about the direction of the rainfall, which in Pretoria is generally from the south east. The entrance (hole) to their nest cannot face the typical direction of rain or else the nest floods.
• A typical barn owl can kill approximately 400 rodents a month. Residents looking to create an owl-friendly environment should stop using pesticides and poisons. Poisoned rats are slow moving prey for owls. If absolutely necessary, use owl-friendly rat poison.
However, not all attempts to attract owls to one’s garden have a happy ending as this resident recounts:
“Some years ago, we put up an owl box, specifically designed for an eagle owl, in one of the jacaranda trees. Unfortunately, a swarm of bees took up residence so the bee man came from Midrand, at dusk, put on his protective suit and visor, climbed up to the owl box where he puffed smoke at the bees to really put them to sleep. He then detached the owl box, with the bees inside, loaded it into his bakkie and left. We haven’t seen an owl since.”
AFRICAN GRASS OWL
PEARL SPOTTED OWL
Thank you very much to the residents of Arcadia who participated in the E-waste collection day at the 10th Arcadia Scout Hall on 19 May. The truck drove off with a large load of dysfunctional electrical items (amongst others a stove!), a tangle of electrical cords, record players, fans, hair-dryers, heaters, irons, toasters, kettles, television sets, computers and monitors, scanners, printers, printer cartridges and spent batteries. ARRA has been instrumental in this quarterly collection for a number of years and it is heartening that many people from all over Pretoria come to support this E-waste drive. All aspects of recycling play a role in serving and saving the environment, E-waste being important for preventing harmful chemicals from ending up in landfills but there are many other actions that can be taken. We should all try to minimise what we discard and instead re-use and recycle whatever we can. Some suggestions on how we can reduce what goes into the bags for curb-side collection on Friday mornings follow.
Material and plastic
Material left over from sewing projects and plastic bags can be used in sewing classes at an NGO in Pretoria West where women are taught basic sewing skills. Articles that these women sew (pot holders, aprons, etc.) are sold, enabling these women to pay for the schooling of their children. Plastic bags are woven into mats. If you would like to support this project, contact Marli van Vuuren of Thomas Avenue at 082 777 9401.
Cartridges and toners
Used cartridges and toners can be returned to the supplier, kept for the next E-waste day or you could phone Sharon at Greenoffices (0860 000 444). This company will supply big carton boxes for used items and will collect when necessary.
Think twice before putting newspapers in the Friday morning collection bag; rather consider taking these to a vet’s practice where newspapers are put to good use in cages and to mop up after surgical procedures.
Take magazines to old-age and other homes for people who can no longer afford to buy these luxuries.
If you still have the old-fashioned X-rays, take these to a radiographer who will dispose of these responsibly instead of the X-rays landing in landfills where the silver could leech into the soil.
Medicine that has reached its expiry date should not be thrown away (or flushed down the toilet!) but can be taken to Dischem at Loftus Park. Here medicine that has expired is taken to a central point where it is disposed of responsibly. As it is important to constantly consider one’s carbon footprint, one should try not to make a special trip to the chemist or vet, but to combine this with other errands if possible.
Bits and pieces
Remember that pre-school centres need scraps of wool, coloured paper, buttons, little boxes and other small cardboard containers for art classes and other creative activities. Egg trays are soaked in water and the pulp used to craft sculptures. In Beckett Street there is a nursery school that will welcome donations of this kind.
Respond to Penny’s request whenever we have a market or drop these off at the Vintage Clothes table outside the market.
Friday morning collections
For curb-side collection on Friday mornings please do not include broken crockery or glasses or anything wet in the bags. Tins must be rinsed and dry. And please tie the knot of the bag firmly so that the junk does not spill out when the bags are tossed into the truck that comes to collect our recyclable material.
If you would like to donate magazines, articles for nursery schools, or get rid of X-rays, you could contact Recycling Rita
082 782 6468, 012 430 3061 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Most gardens in our area will produce a substantial amount of organic matter that can be converted into mulch, particularly at this time of the year when deciduous trees lose their leaves. A mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of soil. It is usually organic in nature e.g. bark chips, leaves, sticks, twigs, nut-shells or pebbles. Mulch may be applied to bare soil or around existing plants. Mulches of manure or compost will be incorporated naturally into the soil by the activity of worms and other organisms. The process is used both in commercial crop production and in gardening and when applied correctly, can dramatically improve soil productivity.
Mulch is valuable for a garden’s health and care because it:
• Insulates the soil, helping to provide a buffer from heat and cold temperatures.
• Retains water, helping to keep the roots moist.
• Reduces weed growth, helping to prevent root competition.
• Prevents soil compaction.
• Reduces lawn mower damage.
• Improves fertility and health of the soil by helping micro-organisms to grow.
• Enhance the visual appeal of the area.
• Prevents dust and soil erosion.
Raking up leaves and throwing them away, or blowing them away, is a waste of good bedding material, not to mention money.
Many garden services and residents use petrol- powered leaf blowers. They are identified as sources of harmful noise by the US Centre for Disease Control, US EPA as well as the national landscape industry association. People need to recognize that this type of noise and air pollution is not just an annoyance, it is a public health problem. We need think about prevention and the need to create quieter, greener communities.
You can help reduce noise and emissions in your neighbourhood and in your city or town by adopting cleaner, quieter, more sustainable landscape maintenance practices. By doing so, you will not only benefit, but your neighbours will too!
Here’s what you can do.
• If you do your own lawn and garden maintenance, use quieter, greener, healthier alternatives – manual tools and lithium-battery powered equipment. For health reasons, the US Environmental Protection Agency and American Lung Association have both recommended against the use of petrol -powered equipment.
• Remember, you are the customer. Insist that your contractor uses quiet, clean alternatives whenever possible or find another that will. The number of “Quiet Contractors” is growing.
• Find a Quiet Contractor that does not use fossil-fuel powered equipment, except when absolutely necessary.
• Create a list of Quiet Contractors for your neighbourhood or town who are willing to practice clean, quiet maintenance. If you are a landscaper willing to work quietly and cleanly with a combination of electric and manual tools, promote your business.
Saturday 26 May was a beautiful, warm, autumn day and the Scout Hall in Beckett Street was a hive of activity. The brass band kicked off the festivities by marching through the streets of Arcadia summoning the residents to the carnival. The children had a wonderful time on the jumping castle, taking part in a scavenger hunt, face painting, playing on the swings and jungle gym and lastly participating in the Junior Masterchef cake decorating competition. Rick Bothma of Nin Kai Bujutsu was on hand with a self-defence demonstration. Many sampled the delicious goodies on sale and generally enjoyed a lovely morning chatting to neighbours and friends.
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