Introduction- the Birth-source Fountain-Origin Park connected through the Freshwater corridors of the Fountain-river Sanctuaries to the Birthplace of Humankind Wild-life Nature Reserve
A project to save the fountain-rivers that originate on the Witwatersrand by protecting their sources in a proposed Birth-source of Humankind Freshwater Reserve formed around their spring origins and incorporating the ridges of the Witwatersand as nature area. This Fountain Park at the top sources connecting to a large Birthplace of Humankind Nature Reserve at their base where three of these rivers merge, joining through River Sanctuaries that incorporate the whole length of their flow, riparian zones forming wild-life corridors to connect the different natural areas into a large grassland reserve to save and protect the endangered and unique Highveld Grassland Biome.
This High-altitude Grassland on the ancient Granite dome of central Gauteng descends from a high plateau forming different kinds of grassland on all four sides with one being endemic and all severally threatened with urban development. Most has already been altered while the remainder exists only in an isolated patchwork of pieces increasingly threatened by urban sprawl. The Riverine corridors represent the last of the world of our origin and would be the only way of reconnecting the scattered pieces and save this unique and highly threatened Grassland Ecoregion. One of the richest biomes in biodiversity and also one of the most endangered, this system needs to be connected for gene-pools to survive and ensure a healthy and life-giving environment to all in this densely populated metropolis.
The Witwatersrand ridge-tops can become like a Central Park protecting the miraculous fountain sources of the rivers that stretch into the four directions radiating out along with the courses of the fountain-streams. The spring-water starting its journey by giving life to precious wetlands then flowing into perennial streams that merge as the constant mighty rivers these Sanctuaries will protect by following their winding flow outwards, incorporating the catchment areas of these rivers that also drain all the rainwater of central Gauteng, flowing down from the Watershed high points of Johannesburg. Five large rivers originate in numerous fountains forming waterfalls becoming Spruits flowing down the Witwatersrand, hence its descriptive name meaning the Ridge of White Waters to encapsulate this miraculous sight of so much water rising from strong underground rivers to form the constant sources of the Crocodile, Jukskei, Hennops, Klip and Apies Rivers.
By restoring these important waterways to form the spines of the proposed larger Human Origin Reserve that will embrace the Grassland nature to connect and protect the last of the remaining Highveld through these green living corridors of our ancestors. These timeless rivers now meandering through the human shaped world of the largest urban complex in Africa can return a healthy life-giving natural environment to our world.
The gigantic volume of freshwater that is timelessly gushing from these fountain-sources has over countless millennia carved spectacular gorges into the hard bed-rock of this ancient landscape of the Witwatersrand Basin. Here on the first micro- continent of the young Earth the Kaapvaal Craton formed in its middle through subsidence of the crust a shallow inland sea wherein was created the
environment where the first creatures the Stromatolites existed for billions of years. Their remains preserved here from erosion forces partly by being on the edge of the oldest and largest meteorite impact crater of the Vredefort Dome. Here in the centre of the first continental Craton inside the shallow sea of the Witwatersrand basin is the most likely place for the beginning of first life.
In this same Witwatersrand basin billions of years later the first Hominids were born and evolved here over countless millennia during the Early Stone-ages in an area that now adjoins the Cradle of Humankind with the same Limestone geology. The myriad of streams and rivers that meander through here and converge in what would have formed mankind`s earliest Eden and one of the primary habitats of the First Hominins. Numerous stone tools along the riverbanks testify to the close connection of Early Man with these fresh-water sources along which they would have existed over the ages. The Cradle possessing the hominid fossils was perhaps their burial area as shown at Naledi, but this area near an abundance of life-giving waters would have been where they lived.
Mankind perhaps started near these river sources like the Biblical account which locates the Garden of Eden at the place where one river divides into the heads of four rivers flowing out in all four directions, described in the present tense as if they are still flowing. The Witwatersrand fountain- river system is probably the only place on earth that answers this description, rising from an underground river that forms the sources of four rivers each flowing into the four surrounding sides. The growth of humankind is also symbolised as hominids would have gradually spread out along with these rivers in all directions.
It is here along these fresh-water ways that the clues to our origin lie hidden, in riverside caves where the life-giving power of the rivers that carved them could have been venerated, their entrances smoothed by countless generations of ancestral hands. The caves occur near outcrops of a specific red conglomerate rock perhaps for this reason it was used for larger shaped rock structures integrated with the natural rock, a large one communally built seemingly served a spiritual function. Connected in style to similar structures along the Hennops they point to an early connected culture connected along the river.
These mineral rich waters that gave life to the long succession of early Hominid species would have formed our first Grassland Paradise and made their lives and the long evolution of humankind here possible. It is ironic that according to the account of creation we were expelled from Paradise for dietary infringements, and now we have returned to pollute these waters with the raw- sewage effluent of our modern diet so completely wrong for our bodies. This diet being the cause of much suffering for the planet and our deteriorating health such as the sharp rise in the occurrence of degenerative diseases like Cancer even entering our genes now to become the biggest killer in children under ten, an indication also of the toxicity of our environment with the rivers being the lifeblood of our environment and their toxic state is making our whole world sick.
These ancestral rivers are currently in a highly degraded state and severally polluted, devoid of most life, even near their sources already toxic like the waterfall pool at the source of the Crocodile in the Botanic gardens and further down abused to carry most of the wastewater of Johannesburg and Tshwane. Disease carrying raw-sewage is flowing straight through the many disabled and malfunctioning sewerage works that are only partially treating waste-water before discharging it into these freshwater streams now rendered into a mostly lifeless toxic state. Much of the pollution is being concentrated when converging in the Hartebeespoortdam which is becoming a dangerous Bio-hazard with ancient toxic Cyanobacteria re-appearing here from a world here before oxygen. These poisons return to our bodies in crops from the irrigation networks watering a wide-spread area and entering our food chain. Both the Limpopo and Orange-Vaal systems that they flow into are spreading these toxins throughout the country and into the sea.
The vast underground-water system in this Limestone area is being permanently polluted, contaminating the interconnected Dolomitic Karst system under-lying much of the Cradle area which is holding large reserves of freshwater collected from rainwater over the , stored like a giant sponge and in Limestone caverns holding an estimated 40% of the country`s total freshwater reserves. These ancient Water-sources feed the fountains on which the lives of all creatures, including our first ancestors depended for millions of years. They must be saved, restored and protected as the health of our whole environment depends on clean water we are heading for an eco-disaster affecting the health of millions of people which will cause great suffering in this densely populated urban area.
Saving these timeless fresh-water sources with the wetlands they create as well as the rivers and their riparian corridors along with any connected pieces of threatened Grassland has now become critical. All are of high conservation value containing Red Data Listed fauna and flora- some like the Egoli Granite Grasslands are endemic to Gauteng occurring nowhere else in the world. The natural life meandering through these Parks will invigorate the open spaces and the last natural areas by protecting their biodiversity and gene pools from isolation as well as ameliorating the current rapid rate of species extinction, saving our environment on which all of our lives and health depend.
The proposed River-source Sanctuaries will be protecting these waterways while forming part of a larger Birth-Source Nature Reserve for Humankind to protect the shared heritage of our species in the relatively small areas that are left of this highly threatened High- altitude Grassland Bio-Sphere. As well as saving the endangered wetland systems so rich in biodiversity and the springs feeding the rivers, restoring the banks from widespread alien encroachment to protect against increasingly severe flooding causing large scale erosion and sedimentation due to urbanisation and resulting in the destruction of the heritage sites that can shed light on the mysteries of the dawn of human origin.