Newsflash October 2019
Dear Friends,
A few quotations from the insect’s course lecture:
–  50% of all the known species on earth are insects. At least 50 crop species are pollinated by insects.
–  The biomass of the insects in the USA is calculated at 450kg/ha 30 times more than that of humans.
–  Impact of insects on their community is disproportionally large relative to their abundance.
–  Amount of pollination by insects is an unknown but essential to all life. An example: 15 different types of pollinators have been identified on the Naboom (Euphorbia ingrens).
We had a different experience with the recent Insects course. On the Friday morning Elmé and Johann set up various styles of traps on a rocky hillside and on the nearby flatter land, thanks to Mercy, Prelly and Ron for digging the holes. The traps were baited with either a rum, banana and beer mixture, or 2 week old pork chops in water (seriously decomposed and smelly) or nothing at all. Next morning we all drove there to carefully open up and collect the trapped insects. We found a lot of dung beetles varying in size from 5 to 20mm and more. These we took back to the ‘laboratory’ to record and admire. We will put the full results of our survey on our website in due course. Guess what? We found a ‘Malaise’ trap,(it looks like half a tent) that had been totally messed up. We traced baboon spoor back to a pitfall trap with the rum, banana and beer mixture… Some pics from the course are on the FoN Website with thanks to Miles Arnold.

 ** This is a Peltophorum africanum with cocoons of the family Coccida : wax scale colonies that produce Honey dew.
Our thanks to Elmé and Johann for everything they did to make this course so enjoyable and Susan and Gillian our cooks and all the enthusiastic attendees. We welcome Dave and Lynne Randall who joined over the weekend and take this opportunity to thank our members who recently sent in their annual subscriptions, I have sent the thank you letters off.

Something you can do to help ‘Mother Earth’ is to eliminate pesticides from your life. Have you noticed how windscreens do not get so dirty nowadays with insects as it did years ago? The reason is we are poisoning our environment; can you reduce/eliminate your use of pesticides? If an insect has to be removed squashing is the preferred option, or a natural organic product.

We may well schedule a second insect’s course next year which will include more information on anatomy and taxonomy. We are at the planning stage for 2020 please let me have your ideas for topics for the courses and if possible the related trainer?

Ostrich Farm:

For at least 15 years there has been an Ostrich farm on the Olifantsspruit one of the tributaries to the Nyl River and in ‘our’ catchment. About 10 years ago it came to our attention by FoN member John Barrow that the effluent in the river below the spruit was not good. We managed to get the Department of Environmental Affairs to investigate……

We are thrilled to announce that, thanks to Syd Catton and Ben Smit’s investigations, the farm is presently not a threat to the floodplain’s water supply. Some 10 000 birds are farmed there in clean and tidy camps; when they are about one year old they are slaughtered at an abattoir in Roetan. All
production is 100% exported which means the farm has to comply with very stringent international regulations. One of these days we may even be able to purchase Ostrich compost as the owners are planning to install a composting plant! Thanks Syd and Ben. Syd has also been busy representing FoN at
the Waterberg Bio-regional Co-ordinating committee and at a Climate Change district workshop in Bela Bela, thank you!

Clive Walker

is building a database of everything that’s ever been published on the natural history of the Waterberg and ‘his’ Waterberg includes the whole area originally proposed as a biosphere reserve. Nylsvley is included in this greater biosphere area and so all the research publications that have emanated from Nylsvley since its inception would find a natural home with Clive. If we could locate and round these up and pass them on to Clive it would be a most valuable contribution to this database.

Waterberg Echoes

This magnificent tome all about the Waterberg that our AGM speaker Richard Wadley wrote is at last published. I have enjoyed dipping into it; Dr Warwick nearly finished it in a week! We can thoroughly recommend it, available from Amazon etc.

The memorial plot

This project is ready to be launched: The plan is to purchase 450 x 450 mm plain, but in various colours paving stones. These will be placed near the existing bell tower (which is also a memorial) at the back of the Spoonbill Restaurant. The families of former members and anyone who
loved Nylsvley can then have a 450 x 450 granite block (or other material) inscribed and set in the place of a plain paver.

This project has been made possible by a bequest left to Friends of Nylsvley by Lucia Raadschelders. The super leopard pics we distributed with a recent newsflash caused quite a commotion! The result is that we have realised that Friends of Nylsvley are entering the reserve without signing an
indemnity. Good friend Mike Pierce has put one together and the plan now is that I will send it out before each event for attendees to read then when they arrive at the reserve there will be a copy for them to sign which will be kept at the reserve.

Little Brown Job’s

will be the topic of our next course over the weekend 15-17 November Geoff Lockwood is the presenter. There are 4 rooms (8 beds) left in the dormitories and 6 in the more expensive Heron House. Book very soon!

Strong birders:

Please save the date 24-26 January 2020 for the Woodland Bird Census.

Praying for rain!
Kind regards Marion x x x

Newsflash  mid-September 2019


We welcome Mr Rhulani Mabasa our new Reserve Manager and wish him a long and successful tenure at our favourite nature reserve. Rhulani has been transferred from Letaba Ranch near Phalaborwa. Managing Nylsvley with the emphasis on the birds is going to be a bit different; Letaba Ranch is over 40 000 ha in size it is not separated from the Kruger National Park where ellies, crocs, hippos and buffalo roam freely. 

A parting gift from Natasha (who is now happily enjoying her new job as Environmental Officer, Protected Areas Management) was to give permission for our newest members Theo and Meghan Boshoff to set up a camera trap near the pedestrian bridge below the campsite during late August…the pictures speak louder than words! Pic: …081 is a Brown Hyena, …182 is a Civet, …155 is a Caracal. What a contribution…thanks so much, looking forward to meeting you.

The WESSA AGM on Saturday 14th was a long and interesting day. We are thrilled that Stan Madden was awarded a certificate in recognition for his lifelong (it was his 92nd Birthday on 14th) commitment to WESSA Springs/Nigel Branch and WESSA Northern Areas. Stan has been the pusher, puncher and shover to get and keep Marivale as a Ramsar site, we salute you good Sir!

Stan and the rest of his team, they call themselves the Dikkop’s, will be helping us to count the woodland birds at the census 24-26 January 2020.

The Friends Groups within WESSA are expanding very fast and one group from the Western Cape has asked if we can get the Handbook/Manual translated into Afrikaans, any offers? 

Edition # 73 of the WESSA magazine: African Environment and Wildlife is available electronically:   Click Here for HTML flipper      Click Here to download PDF 

We do still have a few places available for the Insects course 11-13 October and for the LBJ course 15-17 November. Please book soon for both events.

Regards x  x   x

Nearly 3 year old Grandson Finn packing an Eco-brick.
For info about Eco-bricks please find me

The well-known Marula is tree of the year 2019.
There are several good specimens at Nylsvley

Newsflash 4 September 2019


 Mahala Week! From 8-15 September most of Limpopo’s reserves will be open to the public for free! September is Tourism month and these reserves will be giving free entry:

Lekgameetse NR, Doorndraai NR, N’wanedi Resort, Singo Safari Lodge, Nylsvley Birding Lodge, Schuinsdraai NR, Rust de Winter and Mokolo Dam….Please visit and enjoy!

 Insects are the forgotten and abused group of essential creatures that allow so many people to live on this world of ours. They are the important key to a healthy environment. We shall be studying them at Nylsvley over the weekend 11-13 October with retired entomologist Elmé Breytenbach and her husband Johann. Every year Elmé trains 4th year students from Dublin University on the entomology section of their Savanna studies. Elmé will be lecturing on the ecology of insects then we shall be collecting and identifying from previously set up traps. It is quoted that we have about 10 000 species of insects at Nylsvley by regularly collecting ID’ing and listing (and returning to the veld) we shall be doing a mini census, which, like the Woodland Bird Census has huge implications for the future.

Did you know that it costs 66c for one litre of effluent to be removed from the septic tanks at Nylsvley!

When we were last there the Spoonbill ladies loo was out of order then I found out that the reason was because the septic tank needs emptying! There are 6 septic tanks on the reserve amounting to about 30 000 litres that need to be dealt with.  So now I am helping to get quotes, we anticipate that LEDET will foot the bill!  Dung beetles are described as the night soil collectors of the planet; Marcus Bryne of WITS university will be presenting on his book ‘The Dance of the Dung beetles’ at Smuts House on Thursday 17 October, please book with Valerie: 083 325 1039 or Sue: 082 959 6316 or Cheryl: 083 376 1734. R150 includes supper.

I had to cancel the work party which would have happened this weekend as there was not enough support to pay for the hire of the hostel, but work still needs to be done ?? 



Newsflash 20 August 2019

Dear Friends,

We thank Jonathan Leeming for his extremely professional presentations on Spiders, Scorpions and the “One World” concept. We all came away with a much greater understanding of how we should be caring for this precious earth of ours. There are some 100 000 venomous creatures in the world. South Africa has 2382 spider species of these only 18 are medically important. The national poison helpline: 086 155 5777

We learnt there really is an inborn fear of spiders, I should like to find out more about the mythology of them? Susan and team again did a marvellous job with the catering; we thoroughly recommend her services for your work or private function: 011 673 9353/ 082 408 3204 /

 The next event at Nylsvley will be a work party 6-8 September, here is the ‘job’ list:







Lower shelving in Jacana hide

Carpentry skills, saw, spirit level, hand drill, tape measure and helper



Touch up information signs in reserve

Sandpaper, brush, Cream enamel paint, varnish, white paint for wooden signs wording, brushes, rags,  turps etc.



Clear area around group camp of cacti, syringa and lantana.

Thick gloves, fork, secateurs, saw, herbicide in container and brush.



Tidy up round Boer War Memorial

Unfinished : Fork,  gloves



Look at gutters in group camp with regard to fixing them 




Experiment:  Clean timber/plastic tables at Spoonbill and Lapa with various cleaners

Handy Andy, Sunlight Liquid, Swipe, Vim  scrubbing brush scorer, cloths, bowl  for water



Oil Stemmers hide

Waxol (provided)  broom and hand brush, cloths, tray  for oil  (wear old clothes!)



Oil new long drop housing

Oil/mix (provided) broom, brush , cloths, tray for oil  (wear old clothes!)



Prepare personalities plot and lay pavers ( still waiting for permission)

Fork, secateurs,



Clean signage at front entrance

Cloths and water


 Please insert your name by your chosen ‘job’ and return ASAP. The cost will be R200 per person per night, the weekend will be self-catering and the tea station will be available. We encourage you to have supper with us at the Spoonbill on the Friday night (at your own expense and own drinks). Friends are also welcome to come and stay just for a holiday; the water birds are surprisingly good at the moment.

 We are very excited to present a new course over the weekend 11-13 October on Nylsvley’s insects, see attached info.

 Friends of Nylsvley are affiliated to WESSA; they produce an interesting magazine: ‘African Wildlife and Environment’ the digital version of Edition 72 is available either as a printable scroll down PDF   Click Here to download PDF

 WESSA also regularly sends out news under the heading ‘Legalbrief Environmental’ it is not always easy to forward them but I would suggest you keep an eye on the Articles tab of the Friends of Nylsvley website:

 The  WESSA Friends Forum when reps from all the Friends Groups in Northern Regions are invited to share their success and problems will be on Saturday 24 August at Rietvlei Nature Reserve from 08h30 please let Carol 082 772 2498 / know if you wish to attend.

 We welcome new members Martin & Dalena Beyers and family and Dawn Needham and thank the friend’s that recently paid their annual membership subscriptions.

Looking forward to spring!     With love from    Marion xxx

 Yours in conservation 

Marion Mengell

NoGo map for prospecting  mining in Limpopo Jul 2019

24 July 2019


Thrilled to announce that Nylsvley, the Nyl floodplain and most of the catchment has recently been gazetted in the LEDET bioregional plan as ‘critical biodiversity areas’ thus providing legal protection and any sort of prospecting or mining in not allowed. On the attached map nature reserves are coloured green the areas surrounding them, in our case most of the floodplain and adjacent catchments are coloured purple. Thanks to Dr Warwick Tarboton for this information. 

All are invited to attend the Wildlife and Environment Society’s 93rd Annual General meeting on Saturday 14 September at Misty Hills Lodge, Muldersdrift 08h30 for 09h00. The theme is:  Leaving no one behind in caring for the earth.  Antony Turton (water) and Bertus Louw (50/50) will be keynote speakers.

Lunch will be provided, booking is essential please contact:

                                   John Wesson 083 444 7649.   by 30 August.

 Rooms are still available for the Spiders, Scorpions and One World Presentations by Jonathan Leeming over the weekend 2-4 August, please book very soon.


Yours in conservation

 Marion Mengell

Tribute to Jo van Dijk

Jo, a gracious and kind lady, we salute her! Jo was the loyal supporter of husband Herman during his late life career as voluntary overseer at Nylsvley Nature Reserve from about the end of 1997 until early 2007…ten years. Jo prepared the little lunch packs just the same as when he was formally employed! Whenever Ron and I arrived at the reserve Jo and Herman were waiting for us, often with a cup of tea and always with some nice cookies or, best of all home-made shortbread!

Ron and I enjoyed birding outings with the couple and lots of social occasions including waiting together at Johannesburg Airport before flying to different destinations overseas!

The older staff members at Nylsvley remember Jo with great fondness and we remember her as a hardworking, kind, artistic in her way, generous and good person.

We thank the family and friends that loved and supported Jo in her last few years, we will miss her especially on our Birthdays which she always membered.

 11 grandchildren & 17 great grandchildren (with potential for more)!

 Marion Mengell

Project co-ordinator

Friends of Nylsvley
31 May 2019

4 July 2019


4 Roan calves were born just recently. Natasha (former OiC) who has now left the reserve will be thrilled but sorry to miss them!

A visitation by senior departmental members and representatives of the Development Bank of South Africa was expected on 2 July. They will be looking at replacing the campsite ablution blocks the re-roofing of the reserve gatehouse and hopefully the enviro centre/ museum that we would so love to see constructed.

Fire brakes are being made this year by scraping the ground; it will be interesting to see what grows afterwards. Special attention is being given to the boundaries with Deelkraal/ Vaalbos camp and on the other side at Vogelfontein.                  

I promise that it will be warmer at Nylsvley when we are there 2-4 August for the Spiders, Scorpions and the ‘One World’ weekend with Jonathan Leeming. The event includes a lunch time field outing picnic to the wilderness section. For more information about Jonathan go to: Please book soon.

FoN committee member John Sparrow will be leading a Geology walk on Smuts Koppie (hosted by Friends of Smuts House) on Saturday 20 July…all welcome please book with Cheryl: 083 376 1734 or Catherine: 083 442 8498. R50 per participant, meeting in front of Smuts House Museum (off Nelmapius Road Irene), 09h00 for a 09h30 start to the walk.

Syd Catton and Anton Cilliers will be attending a meeting in Modimolle on 9 July that the local Department of Environmental Affairs is setting up on Air Quality Awareness, good news for the Nyl floodplain. Thanx Gents.

When we are at Nylsvley in August I will find out from Sthembiso and Sinkie what work they would like us to do during the work party weekend 6-8 September, I know that signage still needs some attention and the shelving in the Jacana hide needs to be lowered. The weekend is self-catering and we recommend having supper at the Spoonbill Restaurant on the Friday evening. The cost is R200 per person per night staying the group camp. Holiday makers are also welcome to stay over and enjoy the reserve.

Upcoming events:

11-13 October: Insect training and survey with Elme Breytenbach

15-17 November: LBJ course with Geoff Lockwood.

24-26 January 2020: Woodland Bird Census…As this event is just a month after Christmas it would be appreciated if you would book early…thank you

Having promised warm weather at Nylsvley in August I have just remembered that I was there a few years ago on Women’s Day and it snowed!


PS: Please circulate flyer…Thank you

Yours in conservation

 Marion Mengell

Dear Friends,

The new grader is commissioned, we look forward to smooth roads in the reserve.

Thanks Julia for the pic.

Meso mammal Honey Badgers, probably a mother and offspring visiting a water hole in the wilderness section of Nylsvley Nature Reserve, thanks Natasha for the pic.

The bathroom benches for the group camp are presently sitting in our driveway! Will be delivered at the end of the month.


All the evidence supporting the appeal against platinum mining on the farm Volspruit

has been submitted to DMR plus the payment that had to go with it!

DMR has 30 days in which to respond, we have made a note of the date

and await with trepidation their reaction!


The estimated cost to install signage in the reserve that Ron made for free is about R4000.00, planning to install gradually as work schedules permits


Watch out for the Barn Owl in residence in the gatehouse to the reserve.


Places still available for the plant course 13-15 October

Cheers and God Bless Marion xxx

The replacement Crake Hide is a reality! with grateful thanks to Natasha for the pics, the Friends who sent donations after the great fires in September 2013, the architect, ‘Woodworx’ the Wendy House Company that constructed and installed the hide and Natasha Möller and staff at Nylsvley who prepared the site.

Benches, some of them saved from the fire, have been put in.

The handing over ceremony will be on Monday morning 28 August meeting at Vogelfontein at 09h00, followed by coffee and sandwiches at the Spoonbill Restaurant. Accommodation will be available in the group camp on the Sunday night before, all friends are invited, please let me know soon if you will be coming.

We still have a few places for the Meso-Mammals course with Ulrich Oberprieler from Friday 25-Sunday 27 August.

We are looking for an Environmental law practitioner who is willing to help us with the appeal process for the proposed platinum mine on the farm Volspruit near Makopane, anyone willing?