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Cluny Animal Trust

Cluny Animal Trust

About Cluny Animal Trust

Come sink a putt to save a mutt!

It is for a good cause. Cluny Animal Trust really do good work. And if you do not play, go watch.

The Cluny Animal Trust (CAT) is a non-profit veterinary welfare organisation that was established in 2011 to serve the needs of animals owned by impoverished residents of the Eastern Free State and further afield.

CAT stems from Dr Katherine Barker’s sterilisation programme established in 2004 and it is currently run from her small veterinary clinic in Fouriesburg and her satellite practice in Clarens.

The Challenge

The sad reality is that there is a growing number of animals who receive little or no veterinary care and/or are victims of neglect, abuse, poor living conditions, lack of socialisation, dog-fighting or other forms of animal cruelty. Most recently, the very real problem that has now come to our attention is puppy-farming – which is seen as an opportunity to make a ‘quick buck’ with puppies being offered on the town square in Clarens on a Saturday morning. The poor economic climate in the Eastern Free State remains a barrier and significantly affects the ability of many pet owners to properly care for their animals.

The Cluny Animal Trust aims to:

  • End the needless suffering of animals by providing veterinary treatment
  • Educate owners in proper animal care, feeding and preventive treatment
  • Run a small animal hospital and a mobile clinic
  • Sterilise animals to prevent unwanted litters

Kwêla Dorp van die Jaar

Clarens has to win this!

SMS the name, Clarens, to 33157 before 15 March, 12:oo

Every SMS will cost you only R1.50

Lets do it!

About those polar bear plunges

About those polar bear plunges

…and what’s the best way to take the plunge? By taking a slow walk into the water…
That is what those in the know say. You are suppose to acclimate the body to the cold.
“It could be just that exercise is good for you, maybe just dunking yourself in water is good for you, or the social aspect of doing the swim in one big group is good for you.”
…and where did this idea originate from?

Polar bear plunges aren’t all that new: Russians and Scandinavians have been dipping in frigid waters for health reasons for centuries.

In many Canadian communities, dipping a toe into icy water is a New Year’s Day tradition. Vancouver’s annual Polar Bear Swim Club has been active since 1920 and usually has 1,000 to 2,000 registered participants every New Year’s Day, and  2,128 registered for the Polar Bear Swim in English Bay in 2000.

But the Nieuwjaarsduik sees at least 30 000 humans diving into the icy cold sea water at Scheveningen, The Netherlands’ main beach resort town, every year since 1960!

Stars of Sandstone 2019

Stars of Sandstone 2019

Sandstone Estates is a large commercial agricultural enterprise covering over 7,000 hectares, located on the border with Lesotho in South Africa’s Eastern Free State province, close to the Maluti Mountains and a mere 55 minute drive from Clarens. It is a hub of transport preservation.

The farm was built up by the Wille family from the 1830s, who were originally German missionaries. Today it is part of an international agri-business that produces wheat, soya beans, maize and sunflowers. It has been 100% organic since 2005. Like many farms in South Africa, it had no narrow gauge railway to transport produce direct from the fields to the main shipping ports.

As steam enthusiasts, in the mid-1990s, the Sandstone owners were approached by Alan Clarke of Transnet Heritage Foundation, who realised the foundation did not have the resources to rescue the collapsing Midmar Museum in KwaZulu-Natal. The collection formed the basis of what became the Sandstone Heritage Trust. Today, the trust’s main collection is still based around the railway transport of Southern Africa, but also covers an extensive global road transport and military vehicle collection.

The “Stars of Sandstone” 10-day event held in March, April or May attracts thousands of visitors, 70% of whom are from overseas. This year the event is to be held from the 4th – 14th April 2019.

Bookings can be done via the Stars of Sandstone website – Visitors to Stars 2019 are welcome to bring a genuine classic or vintage vehicle which will allow them to follow the trains on the farm roads. For any enquiries, please contact Dave Richardson directly on

“Whether you have booked or are still deciding about it, Stars of Sandstone 2019 is not to be missed. Have a look at their newly released videos of what this event holds in store. You should not miss it! You also have the opportunity to travel in style to the show on the iconic Blue Train, check out the details below.

A very exciting feature for Stars of Sandstone 2019 will be the arrival of a special charter of The Blue Train at the event. The Blue Train will be departing Pretoria on 3rd April at 09h00 and will be spending 2 nights at Sandstone Estates, departing on 5th April at 18h00 for arrival in Pretoria on the 6th April at 10h00. Early booking is essential and you could be one of only 52 passengers to share in the experience.

This is one of the great luxury trains of the world and has the advantage of providing its passengers with a comfortable environment, excellent food, and of course the ability to hop on and off a 2ft Narrow Gauge Railway which would be operating on an adjacent siding. Many years ago when we planned our railway, we specifically created a siding next to the Main Line Vailima siding on the National Railway Network Branch line between Bethlehem and Bloemfontein. That is where this special train will be staged. The siding is being extended by Transnet, for which we thank them, because this type of excursion would not have been on the agenda of passenger trains running between the two centres in the past. In fact, there was not even a railway station at Vailima, it was purely a commercial siding where wheat and maize FZ trucks were dropped off and collected on a regular basis. Indeed, in Sandstone’s early days, we used to load up to 1,000t of grain a day on the siding.

Most luxury trains are enjoyed for what they are, namely a trip on a train, but ours has the added advantage of spending 2 days at a world class event where there are any number of additional things to do. When the passengers have had enough, they can go back to the Blue Train, relax, sit in the lounge and watch the trains go by. They can on a whim jump off and join a passenger train about to embark for the mountains or returning to the main complex which will be a hive of activity.

There are only 52 berths on this train, so we do commend it to everyone who is considering coming down to Stars of Sandstone 2019 but who may be concerned about the lack of 5-star accommodation opportunities in the area.

We believe it will be very attractive to our international visitors, particularly those who have time constraints.

Due to the various configurations that exist, we will quote every one of our guests upon request.”

This article has been shared from

To read more about the “Stars of Sandstone 2019” you can read their newsletter at

About load shedding, stage 4

On Monday, Feb 11, in an attempt to prevent a nationwide blackout and total collapse of the grid which would require days to fix, Eskom implemented stage 4 load shedding after seven generating units tripped. The stage 4 load shedding cut 4000 megawats from the national grid which means we will be scheduled for load shedding 12 times over a four day period for two hours or 12 times over an eight-day period for four hours at a time. The frequency of load shedding increases as stages increase. Each time period has an additional 30 minutes added to allow for switching of to prevent damage to the power system. The actual stage in use at the time will be displayed on the main Eskom website.

Eskom had to cut this much power from the national grid, more or less 3000 to 4000 megawats, in 2014 and 2015 which fell under stage 3 load shedding. Eskom assured South Africans that stages 5-8 is highly unlikely, but Eskom and the country’s energy supply are now in unchartered territory.

SA has an installed generating capacity of about roughly 47000 megawats but not all power generating units function at optimal capacity due to age, and lack of maintenance.

How long will this load shedding period last?

Nobody really knows. Eskom is unable to service its debt, R419 billion, and it does not make a profit from selling electricity at the current price levels. SA President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said in his State of the Nation address that ways of supporting Eskom’s balance sheet will be made in the upcoming budget speech.

What does this mean for residents and visitors in Clarens? What is the impact on businesses, the economy and investor confidence?

Comments will be appreciated.

Giant Dinosaur

Giant Dinosaur

WFS News: Dinosaur from the Earliest Jurassic of South Africa

A Giant Dinosaur from the Earliest Jurassic of South Africa and the Transition to Quadrupedality in Early Sauropodomorphs

A new species of a giant dinosaur has been found in South Africa’s Free State Province. The plant-eating dinosaur, named Ledumahadi mafube, weighed 12 tonnes and stood about four metres high at the hips. Ledumahadi mafube was the largest land animal alive on Earth when it lived, nearly 200 million years ago. It was roughly double the size of a large African elephant. A team of international scientists, led by University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) palaeontologist Professor Jonah Choiniere, described the new species in the journal Current Biology today.

The dinosaur’s name is Sesotho for “a giant thunderclap at dawn” (Sesotho is one of South Africa’s 11 official languages and an indigenous language in the area where the dinosaur was found).

“The name reflects the great size of the animal as well as the fact that its lineage appeared at the origins of sauropod dinosaurs,” said Choiniere. “It honours both the recent and ancient heritage of southern Africa.”

Ledumahadi mafube is one of the closest relatives of sauropod dinosaurs. Sauropods, weighing up to 60 tonnes, include well-known species like Brontosaurus. All sauropods ate plants and stood on four legs, with a posture like modern elephants. Ledumahadi evolved its giant size independently from sauropods, and although it stood on four legs, its forelimbs would have been more crouched. This caused the scientific team to consider Ledumahadi an evolutionary “experiment” with giant body size.

Ledumahadi‘s fossil tells a fascinating story not only of its individual life history, but also the geographic history of where it lived, and of the evolutionary history of sauropod dinosaurs.

“The first thing that struck me about this animal is the incredible robustness of the limb bones,” says lead author, Dr Blair McPhee. “It was of similar size to the gigantic sauropod dinosaurs, but whereas the arms and legs of those animals are typically quite slender, Ledumahadi‘s are incredibly thick. To me this indicated that the path towards gigantism in sauropodomorphs was far from straightforward, and that the way that these animals solved the usual problems of life, such as eating and moving, was much more dynamic within the group than previously thought.”

The research team developed a new method, using measurements from the “arms” and “legs” to show that Ledumahadi walked on all fours, like the later sauropod dinosaurs, but unlike many other members of its own group alive at its time such as Massospondylus. The team also showed that many earlier relatives of sauropods stood on all fours, that this body posture evolved more than once, and that it appeared earlier than scientists previously thought.

“Many giant dinosaurs walked on four legs but had ancestors that walked on two legs. Scientists want to know about this evolutionary change, but amazingly, no-one came up with a simple method to tell how each dinosaur walked, until now,” says Dr Roger Benson.

By analysing the fossil’s bone tissue through osteohistological analysis, Dr Jennifer Botha-Brink from the South African National Museum in Bloemfontein established the animal’s age.

“We can tell by looking at the fossilised bone microstructure that the animal grew rapidly to adulthood. Closely-spaced, annually deposited growth rings at the periphery show that the growth rate had decreased substantially by the time it died,” says Botha-Brink. This indicates that the animal had reached adulthood.

“It was also interesting to see that the bone tissues display aspects of both basal sauropodomorphs and the more derived sauropods, showing that Ledumahadi represents a transitional stage between these two major groups of dinosaurs.”

Ledumahadi lived in the area around Clarens in South Africa’s Free State Province. This is currently a scenic mountainous area, but looked much different at that time, with a flat, semi-arid landscape and shallow, intermittently dry streambeds.

“We can tell from the properties of the sedimentary rock layers in which the bone fossils are preserved that 200 million years ago most of South Africa looked a lot more like the current region around Musina in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, or South Africa’s central Karoo,” says Dr Emese Bordy.

Ledumahadi is closely related to other gigantic dinosaurs from Argentina that lived at a similar time, which reinforces that the supercontinent of Pangaea was still assembled in the Early Jurassic. “It shows how easily dinosaurs could have walked from Johannesburg to Buenos Aires at that time,” says Choiniere.

South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says the discovery of this dinosaur underscores just how important South African palaeontology is to the world.

“Not only does our country hold the Cradle of Humankind, but we also have fossils that help us understand the rise of the gigantic dinosaurs. This is another example of South Africa taking the high road and making scientific breakthroughs of international significance on the basis of its geographic advantage, as it does in astronomy, marine and polar research, indigenous knowledge, and biodiversity,” says Kubayi-Ngubane.

The research team behind Ledumahadi includes South African-based palaeoscientists, Dr Emese Bordy and Dr Jennifer Botha-Brink, from the University of Cape Town and the South African National Museum in Bloemfontein, respectively.

The project also had a strong international component with the collaboration of Professor Roger BJ Benson of Oxford University and Dr Blair McPhee, currently residing in Brazil.

“South Africa employs some of the world’s top palaeontologists and it was a privilege to be able to build a working group with them and leading researchers in the UK,” says Choiniere, who recently emigrated from the USA to South Africa. “Dinosaurs didn’t observe international boundaries and it’s important that our research groups don’t either.”


Journal Reference: Blair W. McPhee, Roger B.J. Benson, Jennifer Botha-Brink, Emese M. Bordy, Jonah N. Choiniere. A Giant Dinosaur from the Earliest Jurassic of South Africa and the Transition to Quadrupedality in Early Sauropodomorphs. Current Biology, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.07.063

@ WFS,World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Traditional South-African dishes

Traditional South-African dishes

Here are 10 traditional South-African dishes that reflect the country’s diverse culture and palate.

Probably the most-loved South-African snack, biltong is a dried, cured, and spiced meat. While not as sweet, biltong and American beef jerky share some similarities. Beef biltong remains a favourite, but venison biltong is also popular. More unconventional versions, like chicken biltong, are also available.

Boerewors, a type of sausage made from beef mince, must have at least 90% meat to qualify as boerewors. The mince mixture contains spices such as coriander, cloves, and nutmeg, and has a very distinct taste. Many locals like to make their own boerewors, and it’s guaranteed to be one of the meats served at a braai.

Bobotie, a dinner-time favourite, consists of spiced mince, an egg-based topping, and traditionally raisins or sultanas that are added to the mixture. The dish has a sweet taste, a Cape Malay influence, and it includes curry, turmeric and often almonds.

Koeksisters is a tasty tea-time treat made by frying pleated-dough pieces, koeksisters become even sweeter after adding a sugary syrup. It has  a golden, crunchy crust, a soft, doughnut-like centre, and are super sticky.

Malva pudding, of Cape Dutch origin, contains apricot jam, is saucy, and has a spongy texture with a caramel taste. Once taken out of the oven, those who bake it add a cream-based sauce over the pudding. This results in a sticky and soft yet cake-like dessert. A favourite among South Africans, it is normally served with hot custard or vanilla ice cream.

It’s rare to meet South Africans who say they don’t enjoy this traditional Milktart. It is a pie-like dessert consisting of a sweet pastry crust and a creamy filling made of milk, flour, sugar, and eggs. It can be bought whole at most supermarkets, and almost every family has their own secret recipe.

Clarens attracts more and more tourists daily

Clarens attracts more and more tourists daily

This quaint little country town in the Free State has become one of SA’s favourite tourist destinations.

The popular Free State town Clarens was named after the Swiss village of Clarens where Paul Kruger spent his last days in voluntary exile. Founded in 1912, Clarens is situated 20km from Golden Gate, 40km from Bethlehem and borders the northern most point of Lesotho.

The town is conveniently located three hours from Johannesburg and Bloemfontein and four hours from Durban.

Known for its spectacular sandstone mountains and wonderful climate, Clarens is an inspiration. When not exploring the beautiful countryside, visitors can enjoy the many fine art galleries, shops and restaurants. Clarens also offers a wide range of outdoor and sporting activities ranging from the Clarens Golf Club to some of the finest trout and fly-fishing in the country.

Other activities include river rafting, abseiling, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, quad biking, clay pigeon shooting, 4x4 trails, tennis, squash and bowls.

What made a tourist town such as Clarens succeed whereas other towns faltered and failed?

The decline of towns is a common phenomenon. Since larger centres have strong economic bases and offer higher order services these cities attract people. What should towns do to intercept migrants on their way to larger centres in search of perceived better opportunities?

Clarens was established in 1912 as a retirement town.

The town retained its retirement character until 1985, when the potential for tourism was realised. Until the mid-1980s, the town had approximately 200 residents and currently the town hosts up to  30,000 residents during Easter weekend, according to some estimates (Marais, 2004). Several historical phases signify the development of Clarens, namely: the phase of Clarens as a retirement village, the phase of capital injection from outside, and the Lesotho Highlands Water Project phase. From 1912 to 1985, during the phase of “Clarens as a retirement village,” agriculture was the main economic activity. The town was generally regarded as a retirement village due to the small number of people residing there and, although Clarens still has an agricultural component, most of the farming activities are now conducted in the larger centre of Bethlehem. The first capital in Clarens attracts more and more tourists daily

The Lesotho Highlands Water Project heralded the next phase in the development of Clarens.

This project required the construction of a tunnel from the Katse Dam in Lesotho to the Ash River just outside of Clarens  (the same river is used for adventure activities such as white-water rafting). Although other neighbouring towns such as Ficksburg also benefited from the construction of this tunnel, Clarens benefited from the decision for it to serve as the headquarters for the teams involved in building the tunnel. This required the construction of housing units in 1990.

Innovative entrepreneurs embarked on promoting Clarens as an unique and favourable getaway destination

After the completion of the project, the international labourers left Clarens, plunging the town into a recession. This was largely because the economic infrastructure was built around the provision of goods and services to international labourers. However, this resulted in innovative entrepreneurs embarking on promoting Clarens as a unique and favourable getaway destination. The outcome of the marketing campaign was restaurants and bed-and-breakfast establishments springing up like mushrooms in Clarens. During this time, artists took advantage of the opportunity to establish themselves in Clarens because it provided a beautiful setting to work in and from. They opened galleries and studios, selling art at prices unheard of in the metropolitan mainstream. In effect, the Clarens setting provided a ready market for selling art and other craft products, and the existing restaurants expanded their menus and additional outdoor activities flourished.ection from outside the Free State province came between 1985 and 1989.

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