Wakkerstroom – African Journey Collection

One of my main objectives with The African Journey Collection of retro poster-prints is to celebrate and draw attention to the wildlife reserves on the continent that are (or should be) regarded as ‘national treasures’. These places contain irreplaceable biodiversity and are often the foundation upon which nature-based tourism enterprises are created that can then provide a financial return to enable long-term protection. Wakkerstroom isn’t a national park, or even a nature reserve . . its a little village surrounded by high-altitude grasslands and wetlands. In addition to providing vital habitat for numerous threatened grassland species, the region surrounding this small town is part of the Mpumalanga highveld plateau where many of South Africa’s most important rivers have their source. As such, it is one of the country’s most precious yet vulnerable areas. BirdLife South Africa and WWF have worked for the protection of these moist grasslands (primarily from coal-mining interests) for many years, and the Ekangala Grassland Project is an important conservancy in the area. BirdLife SA’s tourism and education centre on the edge of the Wakkerstroom village provides resources and expert bird guides to travellers. I had thought to feature the endemic Rudd’s Lark as the main ‘character’ in this design, but needed a subject with colours that would accentuate the verdant summer grasslands, and the charismatic Southern Bald Ibis fits that bill; in the background, a Long-tailed Widowbird (‘sakabula’) flaps above the grassland in his characteristic display flight.

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