Exploring the highlands and wetlands of Lesotho

A group of NUST students studying Wetland Ecology visited Lesotho recently, with the aim to gain more knowledge about the headwaters of the Orange River. The students were escorted by Shirley Bethune, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Sciences.

Guided by experts from the Department of Water Affairs in Lesotho, the students investigated the rehabilitation of the Motete, Khubelu and Sani wetlands.

“In that area, the spongy peaty soils within the Afro-alpine grasslands are essential to the steady supply of water that keeps the Orange River flowing all year, yet this essential ecological service is threatened by soil erosion, overgrazing, an invasive fynbos, Crysocoma and burrowing by Otomys sloggetti (a species of rats),” said Bethune.

“We were able to visit different wetland sites at various stages of rehabilitation and to visually compare grazed and ungrazed areas, as well as protected and unprotected areas,” Bethune added.

Furthermore, specialists from the Lesotho Highlands Water Authority, gave the students a tour of the Lesotho Highland Water Scheme.
This included the Katse Dam, the Mohale Dam, as well as the Muela Hydropower Station that produces 72 megawatts of electricity.

As future Natural Resource Managers and Nature Conservationists, the students were impressed with the country’s determination to conserve, restore and rehabilitate its grasslands, wetlands and fauna. Additionally, they were fascinated to learn more about the rich history of this mountain kingdom.

The NUST team concluded their tour at the National University of Lesotho, where Professor Nqosa Mahoa, the Vice-Chancellor, welcomed them.

Date: 
Friday, November 10, 2017
for Month: 
November, 2017

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