Friends of Franklin to the rescue

One of the zebras on Naval Hill in Bloemfontein. PHOTO: DR JOHANNES VAN DER WESTHUIZEN

The Friends of Franklin (FoF) group has decided to step up and tackle some of the burning issues affecting Naval Hill head on. This after Bloemfontein Courant recently reported about the squatter problem on Naval Hill, among others.

Andri Grobbelaar (34), a PhD candidate in Zoology at the University of the Free State and founder member of FoF, said they are well aware of the current social issues surrounding the living conditions of the Naval Hill squatters and backpackers.

Rhulani Shivambu and Andri Grobbelaar.

“Although FoF group specifically focuses on the conservation of the wildlife and natural environment of the Franklin Game Reserve, we are hoping that as the membership numbers and participation grow, some of our future projects could assist in enhancing the public’s safety of Naval Hill in general.” According to Grobbelaar, the general aim of this public group is to cooperate with the Mangaung Nature Conservation Services in order to assist with the conservation and promotion of the wildlife and natural environment of Naval Hill and Franklin Game Reserve.

She said the idea to start such a group originated in 2019 when a small number of people living in the surrounding areas helped provide extra feed for the giraffes and other wildlife on Naval Hill. “Thus, after the further easing of lockdown regulations, Friends of Franklin group was officially established in September 2020.”

Grobbelaar also told Bloemfontein Courant that Bloemfontein is one of only four cities in the world with a nature reserve within its perimeters. The indigenous plants and trees of the reserve provide a wonderful representation of the Free State’s natural vegetation.

The group is currently running a project called Help us feed our Franklin Friends, and requests the community to help with monthly donations of lucerne and game feed pellets. “Storage facilities are available at Naval Hill and Friends of Franklin will arrange with Mangaung Nature Conservation Services the manner in which it will be safely collected from the public and distributed among the wildlife.”

Grobbelaar explained that anyone who is interested to conserve and promote the wildlife of Naval Hill and Franklin Game Reserve as a whole, is welcome to join Friends of Franklin and to donate. For more information on how to contribute to the project and/or to become a FoF member, individuals may email: Also, follow them on FaceBook: Friends of Franklin – Naval Hill Nature Conservation Group.

Sazly Hartzenberg