The Krans Nature Reserve
Situated just outside the village, this is being developed with the co-operation of the local municipality. Funds have been given by the Rowland and Leta Hill Trust under the auspices of WWF South Africa. The McGregor Heritage Society is presently much involved in this task.
The reserve is part of the meent, or commonage, of McGregor, and used to be available to all villagers for grazing livestock.
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McGregor Tourism Bureau
Long ago, it was used as a dump. Old bottles, blue glass and other treasures from this time are still found. But centuries before the founding of the village, early Iron Age people must have used the path that runs along the edge of the reserve on migration from the coastal plain to the Little Karoo. Their stone artifacts have been found by archaeologists (ref. Aron D. Mazel, Assistant Director, Dept. of Archaeology, Natal Museum). It is interesting to speculate on their route and possible vantage points for hunting game.
Fossil plants are also found in some of the rocks.
The changing habitat of the reserve is an ecotone between mountain fynbos and succulent karoo. Notice how the distribution of plants between these different veld types varies according to the slope and aspect. Circular patches of lush vegetation called heuweltjies occur here and there. These mysterious mounds are probably caused by termites which enrich the soil around their termitarium.
The spaces between the rocks spring into colour in August with wild freesia, barbania and lapeirousia, which look like folded green concertinas until the pale blue flowers open. Chincherinchees (Ornithogalum) grow in a marshy area that forms in the winter near the path between the edge of the reserve and the dam wall. Many different species of axalis flowers and a variety of daisies open to the sun. Further along the path aloes, xucculents and mesems become the dominant plants, but bulbs and other geophytes are very common.
If you come to the Krans in summer there will be little sign of these heat- and drought-resistant species as they are safely underground. Bunches of restios, which are still harveste for brooms, grow between the rocks. Yellow euphorbia (melkbos) is common all over the reserve. The koppie harbours a rare species of protea (P. humiflora) that hides its mouse-pollinated flowers facing the ground.
On the path which follows the edge of the reserve overlooking the cemetery, beautiful thorn trees (Acacia karoo) harbour many birds.
Some of the most frequently seen are Karoo robins, stone chat, Cape bunting, Cape francolin and lesser doublecollared sunbird. Listen for the occasional call of a soaring fish eagle and look out for hammerkops, which nest at times on the steep cliff. In winter and spring, when water is lying about in the marshes and dams, listen for the strange drumming sound of the "McGregor Phantom" (Egyptian snipe), which dives through the air thrumming its feathers in an eerie-sounding mating display.
You may see dassies sunning on the rocks, rabbits, hares or small buck - probably grysbok. Jackal and otter have occasionally been seen. Also look out for trapdoor spiders, small reptiles and many fascinating insects.
The leiwater dam was built by the people of McGregor in 1951 and stores the irrigation water for the village. It is often home to a family of Egyptian geese and a flock of egrets regularly flies over en route to a roosting site along the valley. The view from the dam wall is spectacular. Different plants make the path that skirts the dam a riot of colour in the spring.
If you wish to become a Friend of the Krans, please send your donation to:
The McGregor Heritage Society