Marine ranger for Wilderness, Jonathan Britton has confirmed the rolling out of new signage for walking dogs on Sedgefield Beaches.
Earlier this year, the process was piloted at the Wilderness Beaches. ‘Discussions were held with the local conservancies as well as dog walking representatives to finalize the zoning and design of the signage and maps’ says Britton. Dog walkers need not fear, there has been no significant change to the current dog walking areas, this is more a rebranding of the signage to make it simple and more noticeable for dog walkers to comply with the different zones. The maps are also intended to direct visitors to Sedgefield to areas where dog walking is permitted.
The Bitou Municipality and Natures Valley Trust are also currently working together and are testing the same zonation on the Pletternberg Bay and Natures Valley beaches.
‘Swartvlei from Gericke’s Point to the Myoli Beach remains a no-dog walking area. From Myoli to Cola and towards Platbank is still a dog walking beach. A leash only zone was introduced at Myoli Beach.’
The objective of the rezoning is to strike a balance of using various beaches by different users. Beaches also provide habitat for coastal bird species. The red and orange zones are not only about habitat protection for local wildlife and safe zones for coastal birds but also to ensure that beach goers who find dogs a nuisance can also enjoy a day out at the beach. ‘The Code of Conduct outlines some basic guidelines. Dog owners can collectively make this new system work but it will only take a few irresponsible dog owners to spoil a visit to the beach for everyone. Please pick up and bin all dog poo’ adds Britton.
There is a sharp decline in the population of white-fronted plovers nationally. ‘White-fronted Plovers have very inconspicuous nests that are well camouflaged. Most beach visitors don’t even realise they are there. Observational data suggests that White-fronted Plovers recognise danger approaching from about 30m away from their nest at which point they get ready to run or fly away. One of the major threats to these birds is that dogs tend to chase the birds or disturb their eggs once the eggs are left exposed and it takes only about 5 minutes for a plover egg to overheat or to be taken out/trampled by a predator. ‘
Please exercise as much caution while in a National Park during these holidays.