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November 2020 Newsletter
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Welcome to the November edition of the James and Ethel Gray Park Foundation (JEGPF) monthly newsletter! As mentioned in our inaugural October edition, the vision of the Foundation is to ensure that all visitors are able to have a safe, secure and enjoyable experience in the park.

It's been another exciting month as we've continued with our efforts with even more to look forward to over November. From the installation of new guard huts, to a major clean up of the Sandspruit River, to more yoga in the park and an upcoming concert by the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra this Sunday 8 November, we have an exciting read for you this month!

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What happened in October?
Cleanup of Sandspruit River

On Saturday 31 October, our network of volunteers along with the CAP Green team and Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ) launched a major park cleanup focused on the Sandspruit River near the Athol Oakland's bridge. Over the morning, the group removed three truckloads of debris and rubbish!

Want to become a volunteer? Join over 200 members on our Whatsapp group or follow our Facebook page for announcements. We will be launching weekly cleanups each Saturday morning focused on different areas of the park. Our volunteers are even rewarded with free coffees from Bird Coffee

Installation of new security hut at Westward entrance

A third guard hut, generously donated by Campus Africa, was erected at the Westward entrance of the park through the support of Melrose North resident Jeremy Berman. We extend a huge thank you to him and his team!

Coming up in November

Yoga in the park

Stretch out the week's aches and pains with Nadine and her yoga in the park every Sunday from 8:30-9:30am throughout November. Book your spot through the MINDBODY app, or by contacting her at or 082 771 6105. Classes are R120 a person and include a free cappuccino from Bird Coffee. 

Edible farm soon to become a reality

We are considering the establishment of an edible farm for birds and insects to support the biodiversity in the park, following the generous proposed donation by local resident and farmer Ms Saveria Nkalashe. The edible farm will improve biodiversity by providing a sustainable pollination environment for the Park, and will be tended for four hours a day three times a week.

In other news

Recently spotted in our neighbourhood, the Giant Kingfisher is normally a bird one only sees in “the bush” and not often either. It’s such a treat to have them as local residents but we’re sure the fish aren’t so impressed. Here are some interesting facts about the Giant Kingfisher:

  • They are Africa’s largest species of kingfisher weighing 255-425 grams and they measure between 42-48 cm in length.
  • Their life span is 6-14 years.
  • Their nest is actually a tunnel and both parents dig it into a sandy bank. It can be up to 180cm deep.
  • They have a large crest and big straight black beak. 
  • They eat crabs, fish, and frogs which they catch by diving from a perch.

As seen below, the male has an orange breast and white belly with black spots (left) and the female, a black and white spotted breast with orange body (right). To remember this: the male wears an orange shirt and the female an orange skirt!

The Johannesburg Parks Alliance

In its activities to upgrade the park and to create an urban green space that is valued by the community and which contributes to health of the environment, the JEGPF has been in contact with a wide range of residents’ associations, local parks, international parks such as Central Park in New York, urban green space development organisations, initiatives such as Jozi Trails, the City of Joburg, Gauteng Provincial Government, Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, the private sector, international organisations and other stakeholders.

These engagements have allowed the Foundation to benefit from lessons learned by other green space initiatives. It has also facilitated access to specialist expertise and skills which are not always locally available. Following on this the JEGPF has been able to advocate for the establishment of the Johannesburg Parks Alliance: Together We Can in partnership with JCPZ.

The JPA would not interfere with the existing mandates or activities of member organisations or to focus on the individual matters with which each member organisation is engaged, thereby ensuring the autonomy of existing initiatives is maintained. The purpose of the alliance is to offer a forum for addressing issues of common interest, learning lessons, and building capacity in modern urban park management and conservation, whilst lobbying with one voice for positions, resources and policies where there is unanimity between member organisations. Critical to the objectives of the Alliance will be the capacitation and involvement of youth, especially girls and young women. Simultaneously, the alliance will seek to embed and advocate pragmatic tried and tested programmes that enhance the safety of girls and women in open public recreational spaces, considering the high level of gender-based violence in Johannesburg, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19.

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