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Mandela Day – 18 July 2016

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Young water ambassodors

nunu of the month: True fly


Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera

Some true flies can tolerate really filthy oxygen depleted water and use haemoglobin (red blood worm) or “snorkels” (rat tailed) to survive in these conditions.

The true flies are a very large and very diverse group. The Diptera is one of the largest orders with most of their families having an aquatic based larval stage. Their common physical traits are their elongated worm-like bodies, eyes and pro-legs. Their bodies can also be soft and naked; others have structural adaptations like being able to stick to solid surfaces (mosquitoes and black flies).

The true flies eat dead organic matter, and some breathe through their skin, others aren’t able to get the oxygen and have special structures to get atmospheric oxygen in the air. Mosquitoes and rat tailed maggots actually have “snorkels” that are pushed through the surface film to get the oxygen. True flies are found dwelling at the bottom, adhered to different substrates or free swimming; they can swim with strong and fast wriggling motions while others crawl using suckers, spines or pro-legs to drag themselves around.

The true flies have been thought of in a bad way because they are able to survive really poor conditions and multiply rapidly in those conditions. True flies are also sometimes the hosts of deadly diseases like malaria. However, this group serve a great ecological function of decomposing dead matter and they use up the “filth” to clean the system. They score a low 2 in the miniSASS because they are not sensitive to pollution, except for the net winged midge that is found only in the clean waters of mountain streams.

True flies undergo complete metamorphosis, passing through four life stages. The eggs are deposited in shallow fast-running water, either attached to a substrate or scattered on the surface of the water. After hatching the larvae are released, this is also an aquatic phase. The pupa form and this phase does not last long, depending on the temperature of the water and the conditions. The pupa are in a case or a hardened skin, pupa also count in the miniSASS. The case splits and the young adult emerges.

miniSASS brings awareness in Pietermaritzburg’s Baynespruit!!! Well done to the Baynespruit Rehabilitation Project!!!

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miniSASS Newsletter: October 2014

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Makana Environews: Landfill fires and citizen science

Fires continue to burn at the Grahamstown landfill site, generating toxic smoke that is breathed by all who live downwind. This is occurring despite the fact that the site is fenced and guarded around the clock.
Recently the Masahlule Recycling Business, which had created employment and helped Grahamstown to reduce its landfill waste, suffered two burglaries rendering a large part of their business inoperative. This is disheartening for all those involved in this project.
Recently, a small group of concerned individuals and representatives of Masahlule met with representatives of the Makana Municipality to discuss the ongoing woes of the landfill site.
Mark Price, of Integrated Waste & Recycling Services (IWARS), made it clear that a similar recycling operation at the Port Alfred landfill site was running smoothly and put it down to better security and control of the site.
Masahlule is now looking to change its modus operandi, with a view to running the business as a Buy-Back Centre in the future. This means that all recyclable waste picked from the site would be sold to Masahlule, which would then bale it and sell it on to recycling businesses.
Johann Esterhuizen, assistant director of Environmental Health and Cleansing, said that the municipality was committed to putting out fires as soon as they start burning. The municipality still needs to deliver on this promise, however, and a hotline to report fires might help. Garden refuse on the site keeps the fires burning, and there is potentially scope for setting up an Integrated Development Plan-linked composting project.
The Recycling Forum will meet again in early March to hear of progress made with regard to site security and future plans for Masahlule. We also hope that the weighbridge will soon be in action.

For more information: Simpiwe Mngcongo,; 076 582 1541.

Are you concerned about the health of your local stream or river? School and environmental and community groups countrywide use miniSASS to measure the general water quality of streams and rivers.
In a ground-breaking and award-winning development, the new miniSASS website now includes an interactive Google Earth map and database, which allows miniSASS users of all ages to explore their catchment, find their river and then upload their miniSASS results.
This feature, pioneered by Ground Truth and the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), literally puts citizen science on to the map! River health data (including your local urban streams) can be contributed by all in a fun and easy way, with the results visible for the rest of the world to see.
A simple-to-use assessment system, miniSASS is records the presence of macro-invertebrates (small animals) living in a flowing stream/river, using identification guides that can be downloaded from the miniSASS website. The sensitivity of different organisms to water quality is used to determine a score which reflects the condition of your stream. (Note: miniSASS does not determine if the water is safe to drink.)
That done, you can go to the miniSASS website, find your stream on the Google Earth map, enter your results and your score appears as a colour-coded crab on the map indicating the stream’s health. Results are interactive and can be updated. For more about miniSASS and using the map, go to
Other water quality resources can be downloaded from the website of our local ‘water watch’ group, the Kowie Catchment Campaign at
Find us Online:

Contacts for Makana Enviro-News:
Nikki Köhly:, 046 603 7205 | Jenny Gon:, 046 622 5822 | Trisha Nathoo:, 078 584 9496 | Nick James:, 082 575 9781 | Philip Machanick:, 046 603 8635 | Strato Copteros:, 082 785 6403

miniSASS Newsletter: July 2014


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