New manager for Friends of the Liesbeek

Liesbeek Project manager Sabelo Memani

The Friends of the Liesbeek has a new environmental champion.

Sabelo Memani,34, joined the group at the beginning of the month after spending five years at the Kenilworth Conservation Area, where he was a conservation manager for the last two and a half years.

Mr Memani, of Khayelitsha, said he had had been passionate about the environment even as a child growing up in the Eastern Cape.

“I grew up herding my dad’s livestock. While doing that, you will see a variety of life like birds and frogs. And as a little boy, I was quite inquisitive, and those things were intriguing to me,” he said.

He did a national diploma in nature conservation at CPUT and completed his B.Tech in 2015.

In his new role as manager of the Liesbeek Project, he will lead a team maintaining river paths and clearing alien vegetation.

Land where exotics have been cleared will be replanted with indigenous vegetation.

Mr Memani wants his team to visit schools – in both rich and poor communities – to promote environmental awareness and tell pupils about plants and animals.

Mr Memani said the Kenilworth Racecourse conservation site had more than 300 indigenous plants, 46 threatened by extinction.

He said he had discovered at least 10 threatened plant species at Kenilworth and added at least 20 new site species between 2016 and 2018.

Friends of the Liesbeek chairman Phil McLean said that given the challenges Mr Memani had faced with conservation in an urban setting, “his insight promises to be very exciting”.

Mr Memani said the Liesbeek River not only supported a variety of fauna and flora but it was also “important for carbon sequestration and a key freshwater recharge point for birds”.