Laird Of Kosi
Scotty Kyle pulls up at a little cove on Kosi Bay’s second lake in his little boat called Poch Mahon, the uneven chop making mooring a little trickier than normal.
Scotty is the resource ecologist for this area of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, in South Africa’s tropical north-eastern corner.
He also doubles up as the law in these parts.
“I remember once coming round a corner and nearly colliding with a speeding ski-boat. It ended up with an upside-down blonde in a bikini, the skipper leaping to save the beers, and me over the side into the water, still holding the steering wheel.”
And he’s the expert on the local fish traps, which the Portuguese sailors first noted 500 years ago.
We find fish trapper Amon Mkhize (72) just entering the water with a spear to check on his trap. No luck that day. Still, he radiated good health and humour. Amon usually catches kingfish, rock salmon, sometimes crabs. And he likes the old system of fishing. “I use what my grandfather used, the rope hand-made from strelitzia. I don’t like nylon, because it doesn’t let the small fish escape.”
Nylon is just too fine and efficient, adds Scotty, and efficiency is the enemy of nature. The uneven knotting of strelitzia rope allows the fingerlings to escape and breed. As a result, these Kosi Bay fish traps remain one of the most sustainable fishing models in the world.
The Kyles invite us into their house, which resembles a snake park with comfortable seating.
Suddenly a strange creature waddles up, lightly striped, bright-eyed and wiffle-nosed. It’s Mangus the mongoose.
We widen our eyes at this portly creature. “Yes,” sighs Scotty, as Mangus devours a Scottish shortbread biscuit with mumbled snuffles of delight. “We call it Kyle’s pear-shaped mongoose.”