The conservation of the critically endangered endemic Aloe peglerae, or Turks Cap Aloe, is the main focus of a Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (WESSA) project in the northern area and a team is current busy replanting these special plants in the Magaliesberg mountain range in and around Hartbeespoort where it has disappeared.
“The project focus in phase one is to plant back over 100 young plants into suitable habitats in the Madibeng area of the mountains, including bringing them back to the mountain above Schoemanville where I am sure they have been absent for decades. Plants from seed specifically harvested many years ago are being planted in this first phase target area,” said John Wesson of WESSA.
This Aloe is only found in the Magaliesberg and Witwatersberg ranges, making it extremely vulnerable. The biggest threats to the plant are theft, regular uncontrolled fires as a result of arson, as well as White Aloe scale, which is treated on site where the outbreaks occur.
Aloe peglerae plants were planted at the cableway on the mountain top the past week and an information sign will be erected to inform visitors about this unique species. “This planting at the cableway will in time provide seed-bearing plants whose seeds will disperse over that area and slowly the plants will return to the wild. Luckily the key pollinators such as birds like the Cape Rock Thrush are found at the cableway.”
These plants seldom survive in gardens due to their specific habitat requirements growing at high altitudes on dry rocky slopes.
“Members of the team working on the project have identified hot spot areas in the mountains where large scale theft is taking place and hopefully in time these people will be apprehended and prosecuted. It is illegal to harvest the Aloe seeds without a permit which we will be applying for next year to harvest batches from the length of the Magaliesberg and propagate separately in case of genetic variations. We plan over the next five to ten years to put back as many plants as we can that germinate and grow to a suitable size to be planted back.”
For any information on WESSA Northern areas or how to become a member email John on firstname.lastname@example.org or go onto www.wessalife.org.za where you can join on line and also receive the African Wildlife and Environment e magazine, the key Southern African conservation magazine since 1946