The Hennops River-valley forms the base part of the proposed Sanctuary, timelessly the Hennops river has carved an ancient and spectacular coarse here through the solid rock foothills of the Schurweberg, meaning rough mountain, the extreme rockiness of the area has saved its grassland from agricultural destruction. It remains largely intact still harbouring some very old trees, plants and bulbs as well as a highly diverse insect and small animal life, some larger ones like Eland and Kudu are also present most from precious wild gene-pools having found a last refuge here. By returning the other original species some severally threatened and adding to this existing bio-diversity a magnificent Wildlife park can be created in the heart of Gauteng.
In this valley are also the stone-tools and living areas of our first ancestors, the riverside caves and stone structures of early man. The stone tools are highly diverse and flaked with a great degree of skill achieving curved and even round shapes, some have been dated at 2,8million years ago corresponding to the earliest Cradle periods. Here early man lived along these perennial streams in continuous habitation through the successive stone ages as shown by the range of stone tools some smoothed through continuous use in a complex and varied lifestyle. The clues to the lives of our first ancestors still lie scattered here, mixed with the Stromatolite fossils of the first creatures, the sacred places of our first ancestors along with the timeless ancient ecosystems can be preserved here for the benefit of all mankind as our shared place of origin.
Currently the Valley is under severe threat of development from all sides, becoming a surrounded last natural refuge situated on the edge of large scale developments marching closer with a new high density node on its doorstep. With land prices still low unscrupulous illegal developments are rife, eating away at the scenic beauty and endangered Grassland that has miraculously survived here due to its rugged nature. Parts of it are now in process of being declared a Nature Reserve forming part of the larger Crocodile River Reserve. These are core areas however while the edges are being eaten away, by defining proper borders with a perimeter fence and having wildlife free-roaming over the whole area protection and prosperity can be brought to this area, forming a large and spectacular part of a Birthplace of Humankind Nature Reserve.
The Hennops river feeding this nature area has been in a highly polluted state harming its riparian life, the necessary restoration and protection as a river sanctuary will ensure clean water and thriving ecosystems that can migrate along these natural corridors to repopulate them, stretching out from a base of intact high biodiversity.
Forming the longest part of the proposed larger Birth-source Reserve the Hennops river meanders for over a hundred kilometres and can form the first part of the restoration project so that the life from here can form the basis to repopulate the other denuded rivers of the Rand with their original diversity of life. The Jukskei, Crocodile and Klip River, as well as the Apies River through Pretoria and their tributaries are all born on the Witwatersrand and need to be protected as individual River Sanctuaries. Starting at the top with a connected Freshwater Birth-source Fountain Reserve to celebrate
Humankind`s origin that radiates out connected through the River Sanctuary corridors to a large Birthplace of Humankind Wildlife reserve where three of these rivers merge, functioning as an adjunct to the Cradle by being the restored environment where the first Hominids would have lived and evolved near these abundant sources of permanent water.
Protecting also the hugely important underground water held like a sponge in the Limestone Karst system that is underlying this and the Cradle area holding large volumes of interconnected underground water reserves in eroded caves harbouring an estimated forty percent of the country`s total supply. Underground rivers connect a large area with some from here reputed to feed as far afield as the Kuruman Eye .The health of our whole environment supporting millions of people is at stake as river pollution seeps through the porous Limestone into the groundwater where it is virtually impossible to clean in slow moving caverns that can be harbouring diseases over long periods with underground river spreading toxins over a very large interconnected area surfacing as fountains. We are all facing a grave health risk and can lose our underground re-sources making a wide-spread area of the country virtually uninhabitable.
The biggest threats to this ancient freshwater system comes from the huge volumes of pollution in the form of raw or partially treated waste-water that is being dumped into the rivers, used as a waterborne sewerage system to carry all the city`s waste-water effluent in whatever state it is. Gigantic sewage spills have been happening regularly, some from blocked and backed-up sewerage mains causing a thick layer of foul smelling white foam to cover the whole length of the Hennops River. Starting in its tributary the Kaalspruit and flowing downstream to pollute the Crocodile and Limpopo systems into the sea, a white death tide destroying life over thousands of kilometres. Another black death-tide coming down in huge volumes has the fish gasping for air and dying, the cause seems to originate in the sedimentary fall-out from malfunctioning sewage works building up, or from the toxic black sludge dumps of sewage treatment works illegally dumped, the cause uncertain but the volumes are gigantic. This shocking state is exasperated by the large percentage of malfunctioning sewerage works, up to 80% at some stage, the main reason recently has been continual debilitation resulting from cable theft and poor maintenance of infrastructure.
Leaking sewerage mains and raw-sewage spills into the upstream tributaries of the Hennops, especially in the Kaalspruit through Thembisa have been a longstanding problem here the stream poses a big health-hazard in this densely populated area. Infrastructure needs to be fixed properly and the system effectively maintained. Once everyone benefits from the fresh spring-water, vandalism and crime will be frowned upon and communities along the river will protect their own stretches of these miraculous natural streams. Having pristine indigenous parklands with life filled wetlands constantly fed by sparkling fountain water running through their world will enrich the lives of many in this highly populated area, bringing the natural wonder of healing waters in perennial spring-fed parks meandering through Thembisa East. Patrolled and made safe to create a clean place of recreation and tranquillity for all. The wetlands through here are currently in a toxic state where the children play, they need to be restored as the tranquil focal point of the area and a vital part of the upper Hennops River Source Sanctuary.
The Hennops has two sources this origin on the one side flowing down through a series of long wetlands originating from an area of many fountains on top of a high point, this area should be protected as part of the Birth-Source Freshwater Reserve. These strong fountains are on a watershed that also forms one of the sources of the Jukskei River flowing towards the other side. These high areas containing the precious spring sources are severally threatened by industry and development with their wetlands mostly lifeless, one hill is even called Chloorkop (chlorine hill) referring to the chemical factories in the vicinity. Further down the large volumes of clean water emanating from the Kaalspruit joins these streams to become immediately polluted. These springs must be protected as part of the Central Birth-source Reserve as they are the constant heart-pump of these Freshwater River Sanctuaries.
The second origin of the Hennops lies in the fountains protected by the Rietvlei Dam Nature Reserve our premier grassland reserve giving an indication of the richness of this system when the wildlife is returned. Sadly even here near the eye water is already polluted and foamy from sewage inflow higher up, even containing difficult to treat Cyanobacteria in the dam and reputed to be making the animals sterile, this in our only proper grassland reserve with rare fully restored animal life. Sheltering also the strong fountains that serve as piped water for large parts of Centurion polluting this source does much harm. The grassland here also has severe alien Pom-pom infestations threatening the grazing capacity of the veld in this beautiful reserve.
These waters should be crystal clean fountain waters flowing out into the Sesmylspruit and meeting further on with the Kaalspruit where they officially start the Hennops. The proposed Source-River Sanctuary will create life filled parklands meandering far, a living winding river corridor between the two existing Nature reserves on the Hennops from the Rietvlei Dam at the top to the new Crocodile River Reserve at the bottom. The Sanctuary of the Hennops will be protecting this corridor in-between and allowing for animal migration thus ensuring healthy biodiversity by preventing gene pools from isolating and collapsing - saving the natural Grassland life and returning endangered species to a safe and clean habitat in our bosom.
A protected Source-River Nature Sanctuary running through Irene and Centurion will be facilitating fish migration through sculpted fish ladders at weirs and animal movement along a safe green nature corridor running along the riparian zones and widening in natural areas, parks and golf courses. Natural varieties of wildlife and birds will be revitalising the Centurion lake area perhaps built with bird islands and reed-beds. The front part on the Mall side can have a lakeside recreational area with soft river-sand beaches sculpted next to clean water to become a tranquil nature area at the heart of Centurion. Providing a healthy river recreational space in a wide flowing part of the River Sanctuary of which it can be an important part enlivening this central area. There can be a cultural space with an information centre that can house a museum of the riverine ecology and human pre-history to showcase the ancient and natural wonders of the Source-River Sanctuary of the Hennops and of the larger freshwater Birthplace Reserve that it forms a dynamic part of. An aquarium and education area can show the fascinating creatures in this dynamic fresh-water riverine ecosystem portraying the whole interconnected web of life.
Downstream the connected nature areas along the banks can be repopulated with the original Wild- life to revitalise the nature of our urban environment, protecting the endangered riverine life while the grazing herbivores care for the Grasslands as it meanders through Centurion. An existing natural stretch with wildlife along the Hennops at the Swartkops Nature Reserve serves as a model of the larger idea and the area can be enlarged and connected as an important part of the Sanctuary Hennops flowing through.
Connecting through the river under the bridge with the large natural area on the other side of theR55 near Erasmia, this large old farm is under severe threat and should be integrated and protected within the Sanctuary of the Hennops, large scale illegal dumping as well as the industrial park of Sunderland Ridge on the other side of the Hennops threaten it with development. The Sewerage works across the river poses a huge threat that could strangle the Sanctuary here, already polluting the river and blocking one side of the bank by being built right on the edge disregarding the 30m building restrictions. A highly important and historical place with very large indigenous trees in an area which needs to be conserved containing a strong riverside fountain that used to supply the whole town`s water for Erasmia, now immediately polluted. Near the spring is also some very old and skilled stonework of large shaped stones reminiscent of sacred site something like a temple complex, considering the importance of these magical sources to our ancestors. This whole old farm is currently on the market and should be purchased for the Sanctuary and Reserve to form a central heartland area when restored and protected it can house the headquarters of the Sanctuary as well as featuring many natural and cultural attractions that can benefit and educate the larger community place to interact with the nature of the River Sanctuary.
This piece joins onto the Mooiplaas conservancy which can form an important buffer area joining this part of the riparian area with the proposed Birthplace Park, where the Hennops Sanctuary joins up with the Crocodile River Nature Reserve. Here there is another ancient site near the river on a strategic rocky outcrop where a cluster of communal dwellings was built integrated with the natural rock and situated next to the perennial stream of the Swartbooispruit.
The Hennops changes from wide meandering to more rocky rapids as it flows in a spectacular course carved through the limestone hills where the scenery is still wild and free in what should be a completely restored environment with intact animal life in the proposed Birthplace Park. Throughout the Hennopsriver Valley the extreme limestone rockiness of the Schurweberg`s rough terrain has protected this meandering course through what was the ancient sea-bed billions of years ago, still containing many Stromatolite fossils in the tidal zones with some very large specimens.
Mixed with these fossilised first creatures are the stone tools of early man, some dated at 2, 8 million years ago and corresponding to the earliest Cradle period. This area contains some highly important remains of our earliest pre-history with riverside cave complexes carved by the river when she was still young, that appear to have been used as sacred sites since the earliest times, the caves were formed in a red conglomerate rock that appears connected with related stonework and walls of large shaped stones of the same rock. There seems to have been a larger early community connected along the riverbank creating a similar style of structures that have been built of large multifaceted shaped stones
integrated into the natural rock outcrops of a specific kind which seems to have held special significance for them, being linked to their caves. Here perhaps are the tantalising remnants of the very first human culture with similar style of sites connected by this perennial life-giving river which must have held special spiritual significance for these people and contributed to the essence of their religious activities.
An important base part of the reserve can be created here in this large and spectacular nature area that is still relatively pristine by integrating the through-fare road that is dividing the valley`s nature and declaring it as a scenic route by lowering the speed limit to give animals the right of way. As part of the Crocodile River Reserve the whole area can be protected with a perimeter fence and entrance gates on either side to give access and create the large Birtplace Wildlife Reserve in the heart of Gauteng. The endangered Egoli Granite Grassland and threatened High-veld species can be restored here to revive and re-establish the original life in an important place of human origin, protecting our shared Human Heritage while forming a strong base for biodiversity so that these original species can spread upriver to repopulate the whole River Sanctuary, our birthplace alive and abundant again.
The Hennops river valley will comprise an important base part of the Fountain River Earth Sanctuary and will form a large and vital part of The Birthplace of Humankind`s Freshwater Reserve, with the proposed Birth-Source-River Park protecting the sources of all the River Sanctuaries. Together they will protect the natural freshwater heritage that nurtured the birth and growth of our species and save the ancient grassland nature of Gauteng along with these rivers of life to heal ourselves, our species and our precious planet. To Ward off the extinction of our fellow species through our actions currently happening and predicted to wipe out sixty percent of them.