Maritzburg Sun (South Africa)
CELEBRATING THE CITY’S WILDLIFE
The animals in Bisley Nature Reserve came out in numbers to celebrate World Wildlife Day on Thursday, March 3, as Friends of Bisley Nature Reserve (FOBNR) member Steve Myers can confirm.
Myers has been walking the reserve daily for the past six years, after he discovered the city’s hidden wildlife hub just five minutes away from his Bellevue home.
Through his daily walks, Myers has become a custodian of the nature reserve, and his daily wildlife counts of the different animal species he sights each day assist FOBNR in keeping track of the animal numbers in the reserve.
Myers, who describes Bisley Nature Reserve as his “Garden of Eden”, said he loves being able to watch and learn from nature on a daily basis. Right now, it’s breeding season in the reserve, and each day he spots a new addition to the different species’ families, especially zebra and giraffe.
“It’s lovely to watch them grow up,” he added. From his observations, the giraffe mothers are very protective of their young. “They have a crèche going for their giraffe calves; well, it would seem that way because I often find one teenager with all the babies, so it looks like the teenager is babysitting them,” he joked.
He walks the full nine kilometre trail three times a week, and the rest of the week, he averages five to seven kilometre walks around the reserve every day, except for Sundays. His walks also double as snare patrols, and he takes a brush cutter with him on some of his shorter walks to assist the FOBNR with clearing the paths along the trails. He also carries snippers to cut snares which he is always on the lookout for and recently even walked into one himself.
“Suddenly my foot was just stuck and I couldn’t move it. I looked down and saw the wire around it. So I got a taste of what befalls many of the animals. The more you move to free yourself the more harm is done. Animals instinctively will fight to free themselves and this can lead to fatal injuries.”
Poaching is a persisting problem plaguing the city’s nature reserve, which FOBNR are proactively fighting against. Recently, Myers stumbled upon a wildebeest stuck in a snare and immediately reported it to FOBNR who rallied to save it. Unfortunately, the wildebeest later died of a heart attack. That was his third encounter with a snared wildebeest. In 2019, he freed a wildebeest from a snare and was subsequently attacked by it. “I think the wildebeest was just angry and vulnerable and he took it out on me,” said Myers. He came away with just a flesh wound on his leg.
His favourite animal to sight is the giraffe, and he loves to watch the wildebeest run. “Wildebeest are very skittish. Their run is similar to a hyena.”
Myers encourages more people to take advantage of the hidden nature gem inside their city. “It’s such a special spot that should be treasured and enjoyed by all,” he said.