Eastern Cape Game and Nature ReservesThe Blaauwkrantz Nature Reserve
The Blaauwkrantz Nature Reserve was proclaimed for the sole purpose of conserving the habitat of the largest known anabantid fish (or Eastern Cape rocky – Sandelia bainsii), found in a few isolated areas in the Eastern Cape Province.
The reserve lies roughly 22 kilometres south east of Grahamstown in the Blaauwkrantz Gorge on the Bloukrans tributary of the Kowie River system, a 200 hectare reserve. As well as its central focus, the reserve is also beautiful – thornveld vegetation and over 200 plant species that include incredible aloes and tree euphorbias, also called candelabra trees.
The rocky of Blaauwkrantz Pool faces extinction largely due to the catchment of water upstream of the reserve, the lack of adequate sewage treatment in Grahamstown, and the use of fertilisers and agricultural run-off, which all affect the water quality.
Excess nutrients stimulate an overgrowth of the red water fern (Azolla filiculoides), which then covers any available water surface affecting more than just the rocky – fish eagles and kingfishers too have difficulty finding food, and have been scarce as a result, as well as otters and water insects like dragonflies who need open patches of water to find food.
The rocky, when young, feeds on plankton of which they are deprived when the fern reduces the amount of light entering the water. Their survival is dependent on groups of volunteers who clear alien vegetation. Long-term Grahamstown needs an upgrade of their sewage treatment and water pollution needs a clean up.
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