Newsletter – January 2024


  • Hawston Sea Cadets Camp
  • Chameleon Surveying
  • Stanford Mill Stream work
  • Wetland Day Celebration
  • Elephant Seal at Onrus
  • Hawston Waste Management Project
  • Market Fundraiser over Christmas

Hawston Sea Cadets Camp

Hawston Sea Cadets had their end of year camp last December 2023 at Whale Coast Nature Reserve. At this last camp, the Cadets were divided into 3 groups for a potjiekos competition. Saturday their parents were invited for lunch, where the Cadets served their parents food from the competing potjies.

Chameleon Searches 

The Whale Coast Conservation Chameleon Project was initiated in 2018 with the aim of rescuing chameleons from vegetation  that is being cleared for development and relocating them to safer spaces. This is not ideal, but the situation is becoming precarious for these animals as development abounds and suitable relocations sites are scarce.

The team of volunteers has been constantly monitoring chameleons all around Hermanus and preparing a Chameleon Sanctuary where these animals can be moved should the need arise. This year we started surveying  an area where an ecological burn is being prepared. On the Hermanus golf course We did find a few chameleons and these will be shifted out of harm’s way before the burn.

Thank you to all our volunteers who help with the night work and well as the vital role of alien clearing in the Whale Coast chameleon sanctuary. If you would like to be part of the chameleon monitoring/alien clearing team, please send us a WhatsApp message on 078 084 8005. You will be added to the Chameleon Monitors WhatsApp group. We notify our monitors of project events in this way.  Please remember to buy our chameleon wrapping paper, chameleon pictures, napkins and books at the Greenhouse. All profits go towards our chameleon project. Visit our website  for the price list. You can pay cash or by card when you come to the Greenhouse to purchase.

Stanford Mill Stream work

The restoration of the Stanford Mill Stream is still an on-going project of Whale Coast Conservation in partnership with the Overstrand Municipality. The year started with maintenance of the pathways, litter collecting, reed cutting and alien clearance. As the weather is hot and dry, the stream is drying and will soon stop flowing below the borrow pit.  

Whale Coast Conservation employee, Thembisile Mangali, hard at work with a brushcutter in the Mill Stream catchment.

World Wetlands Day Celebration

The Plight of South Africa’s Peculiar Peatland short film was released on this year’s wetland day,  2 February. This video was made for the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration to highlight the plight of South African peatlands, many of which are under threat. Most people do not know that South

Africa has peatlands as they are more common and extensive in the northern hemisphere where the climate is wetter and the conditions are boggy.

The video draws attention to the vitally important ecosystem services peatlands offer in the form of organic carbon fixation. It therefore is a landscape feature that, if functioning well, supports climate change resilience.  For those peatlands that are damaged, it is a very smart move to restore and fortify them. This is a climate action where the benefit is enormous.

In the Overstrand we have been battling to restore the Onrus River peatland and there will be a second environmental conference focused on The Onrus River and this wetland system at the Municipal Auditorium on the 16 February which is free to attend.



Elephant Seal at Onrus Beach

Photograph by Marion Zeegers

Buffel, the Southern Elephant Seal, has made himself comfortable on Onrus beach, while he is moulting ie shedding his hair.  Many visitors were dismayed at this spectacle early last Sunday, 4 Feb, when he was first noticed, thinking that he was injured or sick.  He has been coming and going ever since and people have been reassured that he is fine and just another visiting seal enjoying the  beach. In fact he has become quite a celebrity.

There are also seals often visiting Voelklip and Grotto beaches and of course there are groups resident in the New Harbour and in front of Bayview. If you are concerned about these animals, please report a beached animal to the municipal call center @ 028 313 8000/111 who will pass the message onto the Municipal Environmental Section who will take appropriate action after assessing the situation – as was done with Buffel. Their quick reaction in warning the public to give Buffel some space and particularly to keep dogs away, is commendable.

Hawston Paddavlei Waste Project

The Padda vlei project kicked off with a community survey done of the waste management issues in Hawston to try and gain insight and understanding as to why the high levels of illegal dumping in the Padda vlei. The project aims to reduce that and hopefully stop illegal dumping in the future. This was started in December holidays mainly by TS Berkinhead Sea Cadets with the help of Gadern Centre youth and collaborating with Overstrand Municipality. The total of 543 surveys were done and we are busy processing the findings and soon we will initiate an intervention to try to address the issue.  

Market fundraiser over Christmas

We had a fundraiser over the December holidays, with a stand at the summer market. We raised R7600 selling our chameleon machandise. We would like to say thank you to our wonderful board members and volunteers who managed the stall during that time. Thank you to the Sport Centre for allowing us to store our stock there during the market days.