A tribute to Paul West – a musical Marina legend

So many Marina residents will have great memories of Paul West, spanning so many years. He has spent a wealth of hours and years contributing to make the Marina a safe and beautiful place that we are all privileged to call home.

He headed up the Security Portfolio for countless years and worked closely and diligently with all the Street Reps to inspire working together as a community and to promote security awareness and initiatives that could be adapted to various areas according to the needs. Identifying weak areas and encouraging residents to participate, he literally walked door to door and got to know almost everyone in the Marina.

He was the maestro each year to lead the throngs of Marina residents at the Annual Christmas Carol Event. Paul ensured that the Christmas Carol event was non-denominational but conveyed the true spirit of Christmas at the same time. Every person was welcomed. They came from far and wide, brought in friends and families, arrived on foot or by
car, so many boats too numerous to count – but the event was not to be missed and Paul delivered with his talented musicians.

Always a memorable event that is held each year, Paul was there to haul the equipment to the site, set up and do sound checks, and helped to string up lighting and ropes for moorings. He never failed us in any way. He also often assisted to clean up the area before the event and after as well, with never a murmur of discontent.

It was Paul’s expertise that assisted ExCom with the purchase of sound equipment that is used at all events as needed. This greatly reduced the need to keep spending funds on hiring costs.

Paul also played a pivotal role in helping our neighbours across the street, spending countless hours to get all and sundry involved with events and donations.

Not one to shy away from hard work, he was often seen dragging hoses around the Marina and public open spaces to assist with watering and helping to keep our surrounds neat, clean, and watered.

Now a mighty tree has fallen. His legacy will live in the Marina forever. The Annual Marina Christmas Carols should forever hold a minute’s silence just before the signature song of the 12 Days of Christmas, written and adapted by Paul himself. I know events, where so many children are present, is difficult to wish for a silent moment but perhaps the musicians in attendance could do a special word of remembrance just before the launch of Paul’s song. It is certainly loved each year and delivered with great gusto and merriment!

Paul West was a firm believer and lived his life by example. I am sure that his soul is happy in his final resting place. We are convinced that he is fine-tuning a harp right now! Let the calypso play on!

Rest In Eternal Peace, dearest Paul West.

Contributions by Bob Craske and Elaine Meyer

This month’s flora and fauna update

No creature can survive without a supportive habitat that will provide both food and shelter. Park Island and the Cape Flats are the perfect habitat for the Cape Dune Mole-rat so I guess we should not be surprised that its most ardent predator is the Mole Snake [Pseudaspis cana]

The Mole Snake is a misunderstood snake, often confused with the venomous Black Mamba or the Cape Cobra. In fact, it is not a danger to humans at all, although it could bite if provoked. It varies tremendously in colour from nearly black to light brown, so look for its small head and pointed snout. It also enjoys sunbathing. Sadly, this useful snake is often mistakenly identified and killed on sight.

marina-da-gama-mole-snake

Its preferred habitat is sandy scrubland/dunes. It is a powerful constrictor with a pointed head that is well adapted for its burrowing existence. It spends most of its time underground in search of food, typically moles and other rodents. It has been known to take birds, eggs and nestlings. Juveniles feed largely on lizards. Its prey is seized by the head and constricted.

Adult males are known to engage in combat during the mating season, but otherwise they are generally solitary and viviparous, giving birth to an average 25-50 young in late summer. The newborn snakes measure 20-30cm in length.

The Mole Snake pictured here was discovered idling over the Park Island road bridge a few weeks ago. Despite some efforts to relocate it into the nearby bush, it was determined to continue unhurried under the gate and into suburbia!

Cape Mole-rat (Georychus capensis) I have featured these animals, the largest of all moles, before. But after having the opportunity to photograph the Mole Snake, last week I came across this Cape Mole-rat above ground, displaying this interesting behaviour. I’m not sure whether it was lining a nursery burrow or storing fodder for the winter. While they destroy many a gardener’s joy, I can’t help being curious about them.

They have soft fur, cinnamon to pale fawn underparts, short tails, rounded heads, well developed prominent incisors and tiny ears and eyes. This species is distinguished from the others by black and white head markings.

They display fossorial or burrowing behaviour, digging extensive underground burrow systems marked on the surface by mounds of sand. They dig using their well developed incisors, then use their feet to shovel loosened earth out of the way. Most digging follows rain. Within burrow systems, there are usually chambers that serve for food storage. Activity patterns do not seem to be tied to day or night but active and resting periods are spread through 24 hours. They are vegetarian, eating mostly roots, bulbs and tubers. They are considered a pest by gardeners, farmers and in urban areas damaging roads, runways and golf courses to mention just a few.

While the majority of Mole-rats live in colonies, the Cape Mole-rats are solitary burrow dwellers, only coming together to mate. They are seasonal breeders, producing 4-10 pups per litter after approximately 55 days of gestation. On average, they live for around three years, during which time they typically grow to a weight of 650-890g but can grow as big as 2kg. The larger the animal and larger its mounds.

Judging by the very large population residing on Park Island, we need more Mole Snakes!

Photos: Cherry Giljam