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Peace in Suburbia – Struben Dam, Pretoria

Updated on October 4, 2012
"Go into the valley, be still, and watch the pond. ... In this mirror, you can see the reflection of Tao. You can see God and you can see creation." - John Heider "The Tao of Leadership"
"Go into the valley, be still, and watch the pond. ... In this mirror, you can see the reflection of Tao. You can see God and you can see creation." - John Heider "The Tao of Leadership"

The dam and bird sanctuary

There is a little spot in Pretoria where birds are free from fear, where water reflects the beauty of the sky and the surrounding trees and a few fishermen try their luck, hoping to catch a bass or a carp. This little spot is like a rural island in the middle of the surrounding suburbia of the eastern parts of Pretoria, about a 10 minute drive from my home.

The place is called Struben Dam and is actually part of the flood control system of the Waterkloof Spruit (a spruit is a small stream). This area around the dam, about 12 hectares in size, is a bird and wildlife sanctuary, home to nagapies (bush babies or galagos), mongoose, otters, water rats and a lot of birds. Within the park are a large number of indigenous tress (also a lot of alien invader plants) and about 22 grass species.

It is a lovely, peaceful escape from the hubbub of the city, a place where one can relax and recharge with the sounds of running water and bird calls.

The park is part of the green belt running through the eastern suburbs of Pretoria along the Moreleta Spruit and its tributaries. It is managed by the city's Department of Agriculture and Environmental Management and the dam, which was developed by the city's engineers, is still supervised by them as part of the flood control system.

Most of the time the dam is very peaceful, but there have been times when I have seen it doing its flood control thing! In January 2009 we had a very high rate of precipitation in Pretoria which caused the level of the dam to rise above 100% and so there was a dramatic flow into the spillway.

Where water reflects the beauty of the sky and the surrounding trees.
Where water reflects the beauty of the sky and the surrounding trees.
A few fishermen try their luck
A few fishermen try their luck

The Friends of Struben Dam

The park is under threat from pollution which comes down the Waterkloof Spruit into the dam, as well as encroaching urban development. The alien plant species which have established themselves in the park are also a threat to the indigenous vegetation.

To help protect the area and keep it as pristine as possible an organisation of local residents called the Friends of Struben Dam has been formed.

The stated mission of the Friends of Struben Dam is to “assist in the upgrading and maintenance of Struben Dam Bird Sanctuary in conjunction with the City of Tshwane (Pretoria is a local municipality within the Metropolitan Municipality of Tshwane) Department of Agriculture and Environmental Management and with the support of the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa.”

Galago or bush baby. Image from Wikipedia
Galago or bush baby. Image from Wikipedia

Bush babies

The lesser galagos or bush babies (nagapies – meaning “night monkeys”) which are resident in the Struben Dam Bird Sanctuary are nocturnal primates about the size of a squirrel, making the one of the smallest primates. These little creatures are extremely cute-looking with very large eyes to give them better night vision. Their cuteness makes them popular pets, though this is being actively discouraged, as they are thought to be likely sources of zoonoses, diseases that can cross species boundaries.

The name “bush baby” was possibly given them because they are very vocal and make a sound very like the cry of a very young human infant.

The diet of these cute little primates is made up of leaves, insects and fruit, basically anything that is available in the particular season.

The bush baby has extremely powerful back legs which can propel it into prodigious jumps of up to 20 feet. Quite a feet for a little guy!

Red bishop in the reeds
Red bishop in the reeds

The Birds

The birds I have seen in this wonderful place are red bishops, masked weavers, Cape sparrows, hadeda ibises and reed cormorants.

There are also a number of duck frequenting the water. I think I have identified a couple of southern pochards.

I am sure there are many other birds there but I have never been there at the right time to see them. Maybe next time!

A slide show of Struben Dam photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sun glinting off the quiet water while my daughter Caitlin exploresThe spillway and its bridge in quiet moodThe spillway in flood, January 2009The gate manager of the park, Mr Jerry ChabalalaA suburban house overlooking the park. I think I would like to live there!A fisherman trying his luckA craqb foraging in the spillwayA southern pochard looking for food
Sun glinting off the quiet water while my daughter Caitlin explores
Sun glinting off the quiet water while my daughter Caitlin explores
The spillway and its bridge in quiet mood
The spillway and its bridge in quiet mood
The spillway in flood, January 2009
The spillway in flood, January 2009
The gate manager of the park, Mr Jerry Chabalala
The gate manager of the park, Mr Jerry Chabalala
A suburban house overlooking the park. I think I would like to live there!
A suburban house overlooking the park. I think I would like to live there!
A fisherman trying his luck
A fisherman trying his luck
A craqb foraging in the spillway
A craqb foraging in the spillway
A southern pochard looking for food
A southern pochard looking for food

Picasa gallery of photos of Struben Dam

I have many more photos of this lovely place on Picasa which you may view here.

Copyright notice

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2010

A markerInnes Road, Pretoria, next to Struben Dam -
Innes Rd, Pretoria 0081, South Africa
get directions

The access to Struben Dam is off Innes Road

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    • profile image

      Brunilda 5 years ago

      Do you by any chance know how to get in contact with Friends of Struben? I know the name and have done searches and came upon this post. I live next to the dam and want to discuss something with them. Thanks, brunilda@brunilda.me

    • tonymac04 profile image
      Author

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you Micky for your kind words and for dropping by. I really appreciate your visits!

      Love and peac

      Tony

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Yo Tony! Very nice again Sir! I love the little critters!

    • tonymac04 profile image
      Author

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Maita - thanks for those kind words and glad you liked the words and images.

      Sandy - thank you also! It is a lovely, peaceful place.

      Tatjana - would love to know more about "puh" - have you written anything about them?

      Thanks again all.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

      Tatjana-Mihaela 7 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

      Such nice and refreshing and so healing Hub...thank you, Tony.

      We have animals very alike to your bush babies and call them "puh"...unbeliveable intelligent and communicative creatures.

      Peace and love.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Wonderful information. Looks so peaceful.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      I like the words you used, it evoke some kind of perpetual emotions, most of all I like the message, the image is soothing, beautiful, Maita

    • tonymac04 profile image
      Author

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you Ann - it is a lovely place indeed. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. I appreciate it.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 7 years ago from Virginia

      This is amazing Tony!

    • tonymac04 profile image
      Author

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Patty - yes bird sanctuaries are a wonderful gift to us and to the birds, as you say. I love this one particularly because of the dam and the sense of peace one gets there. I always feel so blessed to have such a place so close by.

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting, I really do appreciate it.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from North America

      Bird sanctuaries are a gift to humans and to the birds that dwell therein. How awesome that you are so near one and have such a scenic spot to live. Thumbs up!

    • tonymac04 profile image
      Author

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      James - thank you for dropping by and for your kind words which are most appreciated!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      A truly lovely place. And well worth fighting to conserve. Thank you for the great pics and fine writing.

    • tonymac04 profile image
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      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for your kind words, Billy. I appreciate your visit.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      Tony I enjoyed the piece very much and you projected the tranquility you get from the dam and nature wonderfully - thanks for sharing with us all.

    • tonymac04 profile image
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      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      MG - thanks for the visit and the comment. It is always a pleasure to share nature's beauty with others who appreciate it, like you!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

      What a really nice, peaceful, relaxing looking place to visit. Thanks for sharing nature's beautiful scenery with us. :)

    • tonymac04 profile image
      Author

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Springboard - thanks for stopping by and commenting. There is indeed so much to see and experience in this wonderful world of ours!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Springboard profile image

      Springboard 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      Looks like an absolutely wonderful place. Going around to the various hubs that describe parts of the world, I'm reminded how much I have yet to see. Great stuff.

    • tonymac04 profile image
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      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you, Dim, for reading and commenting. Important to fuel the mind and spirit with beauty and peace now and then, and this place is just right for doing that. Thanks again.

      Love and peace

      Tonyy

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 7 years ago from Great Britain

      How lovely! Isn't wonderful sometimes to look at the beauty still in the world even though there is so much horror going on too. Stop and smell the roses now and then..... Lovely piece . Thank you

    • tonymac04 profile image
      Author

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Habee - thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it very much indeed.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      What a neat place!

    • tonymac04 profile image
      Author

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      BJ - come on over - you would be most welcome and we could show you a lot more places that are wonderful!

      You are right, though. These places are treasures that need to be protected.

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting. I appreciate it.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • BJBenson profile image

      BJBenson 7 years ago from USA

      It is such a beautiful place , I wish I could come see it.

      The places we have left in the world that help bring peace of mind are slowly all being destroyed. I hope this lovely place survives.

    • tonymac04 profile image
      Author

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Rossi - indeed it would be so wonderful, that's why it's so important to me that such places are protected!

      Sandy - it is a place of calm and peace, indeed!

      Thanks to you both for dropping by and commenting. Appreciate it very much.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Struben Dam looks so peaceful.

    • Rossimobis profile image

      Chibuzo Melvin Mobis 7 years ago from Biafra

      I love this piece but there is something i took out from it cos it tells alot about the world around me..Sir you said

      "There is a little spot in Pretoria where birds are free from fear"...

      If there could be so many little spots every where in the world,there will be no more wars,thank you sire,i love this hub.

    • tonymac04 profile image
      Author

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Brian - it is that, indeed! And I've spent a few lovely hours there. Always something interesting to see and do.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      Sounds and looks like a lovely place to while away a few hours. Nice hub.

    • tonymac04 profile image
      Author

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Janny - thanks for the visit and the comment and yes, I am concerned about this place (and many others!).

      Lori - thanks for the visit and glad to have enlightened you!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • profile image

      loriamoore 7 years ago

      I had always heard that song, "Marching to Pretoria" but didn't know it was a real place.

    • JannyC profile image

      JannyC 7 years ago

      Beautifully written I can tell the concern and the feelings you have for this place in your writing.

    • tonymac04 profile image
      Author

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Kaie - I know I'm lucky, and that we have to stay vigilant ot protect places like this from the threats. I think the biggest one is the development issue.

      Melinda - thanks for the visit and the kind words.

      Francia - I like to think that I contribute to peace. Thanks.

      Sabu - glad you liked that photo. It's one of my favourites also.

      DG - I am a lucky sod and I work hard to keep it that way! South Africa is a great place to be.

      Ethel - the bushbabies are wonderful creatures. I have not seen them at this dam (I don't get up early enough in the morning!) but have seen them in the place where I grew up in the Eastern Cape.

      Marijana - thanks for your kind words and glad you also liked that photo. We all need to be aware, I think, of the threat that we humans are to other species. And to the natural world in general. We are connected!

      Chasing cars - sorry to hear that you are also having invasive species problems. I think it is all over the world, actually. In some parts of the US there are also problems with Africanised bees. And yes, we humans are an invasive species in most places!

      Thanks all for visiting and for your much-appreciated comments. I love you all!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • profile image

      chasingcars 7 years ago

      Wonderful tour, as usual. Sorry about the invasive species. We, too, are having problems in the US with invasive plants and animals--now it's feral pigs and pythons, for Pete's sake. I guess we could be considered to be an invasive species by nature, too, though. Beautiful hub.

    • marijanareynders profile image

      marijanareynders 7 years ago from Toodyay, Western Australia

      Thanks again Tony for taking me back home, close to where I grew up. So glad to hear that wildlife is still accommodated in this ever-changing world, especially so close to the big cities. Loved the photographs, especially the Red Bishop. If every person can do just one thing to make others aware of nature and our plight to nature, life would be so much more wonderful. Thanks for a beautifully written hub.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Beautiful place and write up. Bushbabies are fascinating little creatures. You are very lucky

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 7 years ago from UK

      Ten minutes away? You lucky sod! :-))

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      I especially enjoyed the photograph of the Red Bishop. Thank you for sharing, Tonymac.

      Visiting South Africa is on my list of 50 Things....

    • franciaonline profile image

      franciaonline 7 years ago from Philippines

      What a beautiful place you have there just near your home! No wonder the tone of your hubs reflects the peace and quiet that surround your life. You're a lucky person, Tony! You have nature at its best.

      Thanks for this beautiful and relaxing hub.

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 7 years ago

      Wow! Thank you Tony for sharing. It is beautiful!!

    • Kaie Arwen profile image

      Kaie Arwen 7 years ago

      Tony- I would have to drive far longer than 10 minutes to be blessed with this kind of paradise.......... you're a lucky man, and it's a place well worth fighting to keep from pollution, invasive species, and development!

      Thank you once again for sharing your homeland!

      Kaie

    • tonymac04 profile image
      Author

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Violet - keeping our planet and ourselves balanced is very important, I agree. And I too find it awesome to be able to be in touch with so many people in so many places! It's just wonderful.

      Thanks for the visit and the thoughtful comment.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Tony: Any group that seeks to preserve nature helps to keep our planet balanced. Even if I have been online since the 90's, I still find it awesome we can connect and peek into other parts of the world via the internet, so I enjoyed looking at your photos and reading!

    • tonymac04 profile image
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      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Mentalist - thanks for you kind words.

      Nellie - thank you. I would love to see something of that lake in Dallas - it must be beautiful.

      Thanks for the visits and the comments, good people!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      What a delightful intro into your area, so rich in wildlife and other beautiful scenery! It's such a pleasure to have a nearby "country place" within a city environment. I have that here too, in Dallas. I live very close (especially as the crow flied) to a 1000 acre lake right in the city limits. It has many pleasant memories for me, from my college days forward.

      Thanks for this share and very interesting read!!!

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      Beautiful imagry Tonymac...!!