Many Clarenites enjoy the sense of freedom that comes from being able to walk their dogs practically anywhere and anytime in and around the “Village” of Clarens. This is just one of the many privileges bestowed on residents which, all too often are taken for granted. For the most part, a harmony exists between dog-owners, their dogs, the public and other dogs; there is however an exception to every rule.

A particular point of concern regards the walking of dogs in the Clarens Nature Reserve without a leash. According to the NEMPA Act 57 of 2003, s. 50 (1&2) no domesticated animals may be permitted within a protected area. Due to the proximity of the CNR to the Village and its popularity with locals, the CVC – as designated management authority – agreed to allow dogs in the reserve. Unfortunately of late there have been cases of dogs chasing hares, dassies and Mountain Rhebok and even instances of dogs mock-charging other visitors (and occasionally the rangers) in the reserve. The rangers have even observed dogs out walking alone in the reserve.

Therefore the CVC has no other option than to request that owners utilize a leash in the proximity of other people and dogs, and within 100 metres of the main entrances to the reserve (demarcated by large signboards). This is to protect both residents and tourists using the reserve, as well as wildlife that reside within the reserve, in terms of the Animal Matters Amendment Act no. 42 1993 s.1 (1), which provides for criminal liability. Please note that the CVC does not incur any liability for an incident that happens in the reserve, it is the owner of the animal that is prosecuted.

Please be sure to have a leash on your person when walking your dogs in the CNR and be reminded that the rangers are authorised to request that dog-owners display their leashes at any given time. Furthermore any dogs that are known by their owners to be likely to chase wild animals must have their dogs on a leash at all times. Failure to do so can result in the rangers instructing said owner to leave the reserve immediately, and repeat offenders may be liable to prosecution or their animals being impounded.

The CVC does not wish to police every activity and endeavours to make the time in the CNR a memorable and unique experience for all users in so far as this understanding exists. Keep in mind that a “memorable” user experience entails each user considering the enjoyment and safety of themselves as well as that of other users and have an environmental and safety responsibility from the moment they enter the reserve.

Clarens Village Conservancy

Author: Clarens Guide