On the weekend I took my family for a drive down to the Kleinbaai harbour near Gansbaai. Every day hundreds of tourists from all over the world drive down this road to go White shark diving. It has always been quite a pretty drive characterised by fynbos on either side of the road. Late in the evening a while back I even saw a mother caracal with its baby dashing from one side to the other and quickly disappearing into the dense bush on the side of the road. Now suddenly on Sunday I see that all the fynbos has been bushcut to create another fire break. The craziest part is that whoever cut the firebreak decided that the rooikrans (Acacia cyclops), which is a category 1 alien invasive tree, should be carefully cut around and left for all to enjoy!
What really got me thinking about how we value things is that Gansbaai has been proudly coined the White Shark Capital of the World. At the bottom of this road is Keinbaai harbour, home to the licenced white shark tour operators. Each day they launch their boats crammed with eager adventure seakers, adrenalin junkies and nature lovers. Now I have no doubt as to the exceptional tourist pulling power of the Great White Shark and the marine ecological wonder that is Dyer Island. But what a shame it is that most of these visitors drive through one of the worlds most spectacular botanical regions and biodiversity hotspots without taking the time to look, smell and appreciate any of it.
Instead the powers that be decide to remove more indigenous strandveld fynbos along a major tourism route. Fynbos that up until a few weeks ago would have been characterised by exceptional species diversity, almost certainly a number of red data listed plants, plenty of tortoises and a probably a family of lynx. At least they left some Australian Acacias for the tourists to enjoy!