Every possible step has been taken to keep the San Lameer environment as natural as possible. The design philosophy behind the villas has been to make them a harmonious part of the environment, where animals and human habitats blend in a hue of natural earth tones. The roads have been constructed with materials that tone in with the surroundings, while development programs are managed according to strict environmental and aesthetic rules.
The Estate is regarded as a nature reserve and only 40 percent of the land may be developed. The developer, Sanlam Properties and the Master Home Owners Association, ensure this by constantly monitoring new developments and by a strict adherence to the Estate’s declared nature conservation plan.
Our estate has an abundance of vervet monkeys, fondly described as “the cutest pests in the world.” Cute they are, indeed, and can provide many hours of viewing pleasure as they play among each other on either the ground or in trees. Among branches, they are extremely agile and can leap over great distances with unerring accuracy. They are highly intelligent, revealing many human characteristics such as anxiety, elation, depression, blood pressure problems and can even become addicted to alcohol if introduced to it. Vervets move around in groups numbering between 10 to 70, seldom staying in one place for any length of time. The females give birth once a year after a gestation period of 160 days and nurse their offspring to independence. Although vervets are generally vegetarian, they are omnivorous, eating birds eggs, birds themselves, small reptiles like lizards and most human food found in garbage cans. That is where the “pest” label enters the equation. Residents should never feed monkeys on the Estate. They are easily habituated to expect food from humans and can be dangerously aggressive when it is then denied. Visitors and residents are advised to keep doors and windows to their accommodation closed when they are not at home and to make sure their garbage bins are monkey-proof.
San Lameer is privileged to have a resident pair of African Crowned eagles nesting on the Estate. This is a rare and threatened species of which the numbers on the African Continent have declined alarmingly. Deforestation in Africa and advancing human settlements have progressively driven these raptors further south and those still surviving have had to adapt to peri-urban locations that are often very different from their natural forest habitats.
While second to the Martial Eagle in actual size, the Crowned eagle is nevertheless the most powerful eagle in the world, having a crushing power of 800 pounds per square inch in its eight lethal talons. These birds mate for life, have a lifespan of between 38 and 50 years and generally breed once a year. Where there is an abundance of food, as happens on our Estate, they tend to produce a chick every year after incubating two eggs for 48 to 52 days. Only one chick is allowed to survive because feeding two would be impossible.
Their diet principally comprises dassies (hyraxes), vervet monkeys and small antelope but has been observed to include birds, reptiles and even small domestic animals. The San Lameer nest offers one of the finest viewing stations in the world from which to study their behaviour.
The San Lameer Conservancy was registered with the KwaZulu-Natal Parks Board as an “urban” conservancy in January 1996. One year later, the Parks Board presented San Lameer with a certificate proclaiming it as a “site of conservation significance”.
The conservancy area is approximately 200 hectares and incorporates three main vegetation categories, being: dune, forest and grasslands.
The Estates conservation mission is to preserve, in perpetuity, the natural environment of forest types, dune vegetation and grasslands (including wet grassland) for the benefit of the animals, birds, reptiles, insects and humans that inhabit and or visit the estate. Within the flora on the estate, we have a few protected species including the yellow wood tree, red milk wood tree and Barringtonia. There are an estimated 42 indigenous tree species on the estate.
With the diversity in flora created by the 4 different biomes (wetland, grassland, dune and tropical forest along with the abundance of fresh water, we are privileged enough to enjoy numerous sightings of impala, bush buck, red, blue and grey duiker, dassie(rock hyrax), water monitor (legavaan), genet cats, vervet monkeys, cape clawless otters, African rock python, green mamba, rhombic night adders, spotted Natal bush snake, malachite and half collard king fishers, Goliath heron, trumpeter hornbills and African fish and crowned eagles.
The San Lameer environment offers tranquillity, peace, serenity and a natural balance to all those who are privileged enough to visit or live on the estate.
Photos and Words: Jacques Sellschop
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