King of the Valley. Some of you may be wondering which valley and why would you want to be crowned its ruler. Here is all you need to know about this beautiful valley situated right here in Nelson Mandela Bay.
There is a 23km urban river whose source is on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth in wet sponges. The source of this river drains the sponges on either side of the N2. It’s also fed by various streams, which then increases its volume and speed. The river makes its way through residential suburbs and ends at the city centre, where it finally flows into the Algoa Bay Harbour. The name of this urban river is the Baakens River, which is how the valley got named, The Baakens Valley.
The Baakens River, unlike many other urban rivers has been able to maintain most of its natural state in the upper and middle reaches. The lower reach of the river, however has been altered with weirs and near the end of the river has been canalised.
The mouth of the river was a tidal estuary, but after many years of development, it has been made into a concrete channel that is open permanently to the sea.
Did you know that in the Nelson Mandela Bay region, we have five out of the seven biomes found in South Africa? We are also home to two incredible biodiversity hot spots, which are the Cape Floral Region biodiversity represented through Fynbos and the Maputuland-Pondoland-Albany biodiversity represented through Thicket, which is found along the Baakens River Valley. For those of you who can explain how a strong posterior-chain can strengthen someone’s running ability but don’t know what biodiversity means, Google says: ‘Biodiversity is the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat, a high level of which is usually considered to be important and desirable’.
FAUNA – Animals LOL
While you are running and enjoying being in the midst of nature, try and have a look out to see what animals you may find:
- Warm Hearted
There are 24 mammal species in the Valley but sadly their numbers are becoming less and less due to the loss of habitats causes by development and illegal hunting. Have a look out for these rare sightings: the Cape Gysbok, the Small Grey Mongoose, the Rock Dassie and lastly the endemic and endangered Cape Clawless otter whose home is the riverine but that has become disturbed due to pollution, development and alien vegetation.
- Flying Friends
There are said to be 131 bird species in the valley and 19 species are known to only breed in the valley. If you are an avid bird watcher, you will be spoilt for choice, so make sure you are on the lookout for: Sunbirds, Flycatchers, Woodpeckers, Kingfishers, as well as some raptors such as the African Goshawk.
- Cold Hearted
The last survey that was done in 2013 reported that there was 10 species of fish in the river, but the report did not include catadromous fish species ( fish that migrate down rivers to spawn). The river contains a few endangered species such as the Fresh Water Mullet – which is on the red data list, the Flathead Mullet, the Cape Moony, the Longfin Eel and the African Mottled Eel. It is said that some of the fish have historically spawned and incubated their eggs in the sea and larvae and juveniles have migrated through the Baakens River mouth and upstream.
So you see when you get crowned King of the Valley it’s almost a kind of a Jungle Book title, when you consider all that the Baakens Valley has to offer in terms of all the life that it has.