Rock Art in Fernkloof

Rock Art in Fernkloof


Fernkloof Paintings

The Rock Art was discovered on the 14th of February 2020. We were on our way back down the mountain in the Fernkloof reserve after another successful day of ‘alien clearing’ which is the term used for removing unwanted vegetation not endemic to the area. We were returning to our car from the ‘Waterfall’ in Fernkloof Reserve when we spotted some Acacia Saligna commonly known as “Port Jackson willow” growing at the base of a rocky outcrop about 60 meters up a steep slope. Port Jackson is endemic to Western Australia. A total of 13 species of Australian acacias (Mimosaceae) have become naturalized in South Africa and are now declared invasive weeds, or aliens.

Fernkloof Reserve

Two of the most successful invasive plant species in the fynbos are Acacia cyclops (Rooikrans) and Acacia saligna (Port Jackson willow). Both these species were introduced originally to stabilise coastal sand dunes and have proven exceptionally well adapted to local conditions. Thriving on the nutrient poor soils of the Cape and proliferating after the regular fires typical of fynbos landscapes. If left to grow unchecked, the Port Jackson takeover the area depriving the indigenous fynbos of sunlight so we decided to return the next day to climb the very steep slope to deal with the ‘aliens’. We cut the alien tree as close to its base as we can and then poison the stump with herbicide. If this is not done the tree will coppice and continue to grow from the established rootstock.

Rock Art

While Ralph was dealing with the aliens, I decided to have a coffee break in the cool shady Sandstone overhang. The area looked very interesting and I began to explore for anything of interest.  It was as I sat down that a smooth rock “canvas” caught my eye.  It was an image of 2 upright human figures in faded red.

For a full eCRAG report, by The eastern Cederberg Rock Art Group please follow the link below.