I count myself fortunate to have been able to experience the natural beauty of the Kogelberg, both as a child and an adult, working with WWF South Africa to secure as much as possible of its biodiversity and surrounds for the benefit of people and nature.
Home is where the heart is
With its high mountain peaks, rugged kloofs, sometimes wild seas and incredible plant diversity, many believe the Kogelberg is the crown jewel in the Cape Floristic Region – and with good reason. I have travelled the world, and there are very few places that are so diverse in nature and people. Among the many things I love about living here is experiencing the fierce winter storms, and the ocean that gives and takes each year – you can still feel and see natural forces at work here.
Views for days
Clarence Drive is the gateway to this natural wonderland. Once on the road, you immediately sense that you are in a special place.
Along the way, you may spot some animals like klipspringers, dassies and baboons, and if you are lucky and are travelling at night, even a leopard! Take in the beautiful fynbos on either side of the road, with some species that are found nowhere else in the world, and don’t forget to look at the sea view too. Once, while driving on this road, I saw literally hundreds of dolphins feeding on a shoal of fish. It was one of many priceless encounters for me!
And if you continue along this road through Betty’s Bay, you’ll pass by the entrance to the beautiful Kogelberg Nature Reserve where I enjoy hiking with friends and family.
From farm to the “Panda” family
The beauty of the Kogelberg and its rich plant life reminds me of my childhood. From the age of around five, I often spent time with my grandparents on various farms in Namaqualand, on the Knersvlakte and in the Karoo. I loved spending time with my grandfather. He had a deep respect and passion for the veld, and it was from him that I learned how nature works, how to tell when it will rain, experiencing droughts and learning how to use what nature gives you with respect.
Even when I went to work in London in the UK in the financial sector early on in my career, I took this love of nature with me. There I noticed the smallest things that other people would overlook – like a bird of prey catching a pigeon in the middle of the city.
Now, as part of the WWF team my work contributes towards the expansion of, and investment in, protected areas in South Africa. This is a dream come true and extremely rewarding every time we secure a piece of land that will benefit people and nature into perpetuity.
For people and nature
WWF is in the process of securing land between the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden and the sea that will create a vital wildlife corridor. This is one of several properties that we’ve bought to conserve the unique biodiversity in South Africa, something that I am grateful to be part of. WWF was also instrumental in creating Brodie’s Link near Pringle Bay which also connects the mountain with the sea.