Over the last few weeks, Newlands Forest has undergone a devastating transformation. Countless trees have been stripped of their bark, leaving many of these natural beauties to wither away and die depending on the extent to which it was girdled.
The Newlands Forest Conservation group has had enough and is now offering a R5000 reward for the arrest or information leading to the arrest and successful prosecution of any person/s caught in the illegal bark stripping within the Table Mountain National Park, reports IOL.
“It’s not our desire to see people go to jail, but urgent intervention is required; our hope is to see arrests and plea bargains being instituted to allow culprits to help fix the damage they’re doing,” said Willem Boshoff, the co-founder of the group.
The Newlands ravine picnic site appears to be the main area in which the illegal activity is taking place, with a further 10 trees being stripped in the last few days. A mature Cape Beech and Assegai were the latest victims. The Cape Beech was fully girdled for approximately 2 metres, while the Assegai was about 85% girdled and is not likely to pull through.
The culprit was not shy about their activity, apparently stopping to have lunch.
“The culprit even left his lunch/dinner’s rubbish right there – the content suggesting it was a single person; probably stripping on Sunday night or Monday during the day (people have been seen stripping at 11am before). It is basically a free lunch for bark strippers in the Newlands ravine area, with easy access and zero enforcement; there are very few mature Cape Beeches and Assegais left,” said Boshoff.
While the group has urged SANParks to establish a task team to root out the culprit, the national park is calling on visitors to report bark stripping activities to the emergency number 086 110 6417 or send through an email to [email protected]
Picture: Newlands Forest Conservation group