Kathy Schulz, George:
I would appreciate answers from the relevant botanical garden organising committee [and the] George Municipality as land owners of the Botanical Garden (Town Planning and Department of Health), to the following questions:
• Is the position of raptor cages far enough away from the existing public foot paths used by families and dogs?
• Would music concerts and other community events often held in the botanical garden not agitate enclosed raptors?
• Were neighbouring ratepayers consulted before construction of the raptor cages started?
• Why is it necessary to move the poor old controversial War Memorial? Can't the names of local citizens who died in battle, rest in peace? Surely the few metres the cenotaph occupies could have been accommodated for in the design phase of the raptor centre. Why was this not done? I'm not sure these fragile slate plaques will survive another move.
Corné Brink, manager and curator of the Garden Route Botanical Garden answers:
The Garden Route Botanical Garden would like to thank members of the public for their keen interest in our developments in the garden; we value the community's continued input in our conservation endeavours!
The Garden Route Botanical Garden, George Municipality and Garden Route Birds of Prey took all necessary steps to ensure that the raptor rehabilitation centre would be established at a location in the botanical garden that is not only beneficial to both conservation organisations, but is in keeping with conservation practices regarding rehabilitation of wildlife, namely birds of prey.
The location chosen is more than suitable to the well-being of the birds. People and dogs passing by won’t cause a disturbance to the birds, and gardening and screening help to create a buffer around the bird cages.
Events and other activities are also very unlikely to disturb the birds given the location of the centre. The GRBG’s governing body ultimately made the decision to welcome its sister non-profit conservation organisation with open arms for the long-term benefit of the botanical garden, for conservation of fauna and for the wider community.
Although neighbouring ratepayers were considered during the decision-making process regarding the location of the cages, and were consulted, the final decision lies with the trust, and was made accordingly.
The War Memorial being moved is a completely separate endeavour to the Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Centre, undertaken by the Botanical Garden Trust, specifically to ensure the cenotaph endures the centuries to come and so that it may receive the respect and recognition it deserves.
The botanical garden does not have, and has not had in the past the capacity to correctly care for the cenotaph, and we would like to see it in a location where it will be cared for physically and financially by an organisation aimed at the remembrance of our fallen families.
This matter will be discussed extensively at the public participation meeting, which will be held on 10 March, at 18:00 at the Moths Hall. We welcome members of the public to this event.