HONORARY RANGERSGENERAL MEETING

23 April 2015

1           The chair welcomed everyone to the meeting which was opened with a prayer.

HR Committee              John Webber (Chair), Diana van Rensburg (Secretary), Peter Craig-Cooper, Genie Retief, Andrew Hudson.

HR Present                    Hendrik Visser ,Penelope Mayson, Graeme Altenkirk, John Webb, Linda Benade, Frik Pienaar, Anrie Pienaar,

Others present             Peter Joubert, Lenora Joubert, Derick Bruins-Lich, Mike Bezuidenhout, Yula Bezuidenhout, Jane Campbell, Jeanette Newey, Paula Volkmer, Jennifer Webber, Jacques de Villiers,

     2   Apologies HR                  Nellie Morgan, Joce Gordon, Jim Morgan, Lynette de Jong, Dev Farquharson, Andre Engelbrecht, Johan Veldsman,             

3      Photos

All HRs to have a photo taken so that they can be posted on the HR website.

4      Bush Snippets

A Rhombic Night Adder snake was seen in Marloth Park for the first time.  This snake was 10 – 15 cms long and is mildly venomous.

Photos were shown of Swazi Lilies which are growing in Lionspruit.

The nine eggs that the ostriches have been sitting on at 3222 Seekoei were removed by HRs after consultation with Elfas, as they were not going to hatch.  This will encourage the ostriches to breed again.

A cat was photographed on Erdvark and a cage has been set to catch it.

The bush has been cleared at 4388 and 4391 Seekoei.  The area in front of the houses and to the river has been cleared.  A letter from HR has been sent to the owners of 4388.  The only way to stop bush clearing is to impose heavy penalties.  A fine has to be issued and taken up by Barberton Court. The LEOs are able to give warnings but not fines.   If the owners are not in residence it is of no use to call the police to issue a summons.  If it is necessary to cut down trees then permission has to be requested from Elfas. Any such tree cut down should not be used for firewood which some of the caretakers living on properties are doing.  Fines for cutting down protected trees such as Leadwood should be R10 000 to R50 000. The by-laws and town planning controls are to be checked. As the number of houses being built increases then it gets more difficult to monitor.  A suggestion was to check sales and then advise the new owners. The estate agents are not all advising on the regulations of Marloth Park.

5           NIG Feedback

John Webber, Stuart Long and Sarel (LEO) attended the latest meeting at TSB lapa.  The feedback from the KNP Rangers was not positive. Last month was the worst for rhino poaching – 55 being killed and this month 50 have been killed.  At any one time there are 10 – 15 groups of poachers operating in the KNP.  Of the total incursions into the KNP 40% were from Mozambique and 60% from South Africa, although they were mostly Mozambiquans involved.  The army is still not allowed to enter Mozambique.  The rangers are more effective and have more encounters with the poachers than the army.  The most positive report is that they are beginning to use more technology in the fight e.g. helicopters with night vision.

6           Game Reduction Programme

It is reported that the bomas are being erected today or very soon and feeding is happening at Volstruis and Raasblaar.

7         Snares, Deaths and Poaching - Figures for March 2015

Vehicles        1 impala

Snares           1 warthog, 1 blue wildebeest

Mortalities   1 Kudu, 5 impala, 1 bushbuck, 1 warthog, 1 baboon

Jaco has requested that he be contacted if a recently dead impala is found.  The Veterinary Services would like to perform an autopsy to determine cause of death and any diseases.

8         Ranger Activities

A sign was erected on loop 1 along the river which is in a poor condition stating “Track badly eroded – 4x4s only”           

The weather station has been erected at Field.  This links into the Working for Fire network – website -  vitalweather.co.za - drop down Marloth Park.  This gives current conditions and is not predictive.

Bush encroachment work parties have started in Lionspruit taking out Sickle bush, raisin, bush willow and small buffalo thorns.  This is to open up an area of up to 100 metres from the road, allowing grass to grow and will provide better game viewing.  We only have 1 bush clearing machine and work with Jaco’s team.  Work parties will be held on Mondays.

Joce held a workshop on identification of alien plants.  It was suggested that we try to involve the property owners as well in these workshops.

9         HR Presentation

The chair gave a presentation of the duties and responsibilities of being an Honorary Ranger.   This is a dynamic list which can change as circumstances call for it.  This can be found on the website.  HRs have a good relationship and work closely with the Municipal Rangers.

10       Flora

Two Working for Water Teams finished this week. The area at Fig Tree which was covered by Parthenium has grass growing on it.

11       Lionspruit

Bush encroachment project as above.  Bird posters are ready for the Jackalberry bird 

12       Henk van Rooyen

  Terence has switched off the pump so bentonite can be put down.

Gruispan borehole at 60 metres is running dry.  They need to decide whether to go deeper or have a new borehole.

13     Website / Facebook

Andrew had a problem with the capacity of the hosting company of the website so has changed to a new one which is slightly more expensive.  The website is designed to be a reference for information on Marloth Park and he is currently building up a Game and Veld Management section.  It will give current events but Facebook will give more up to date news.  There are more hits from outside South Africa than inside.

John Webb reported that the Facebook page was going well with 800 hits this month.

14     Bush Walk and Talk

The last one was rained out so Andre gave a talk only.  There are no more planned as Andre is going to be away.

John Webb is willing to give a presentation on snakes in the future.

15     Bird Walks

The next bird walk is on Saturday 2nd May at 7.00.  Meet at corner of Volstruis and Crocodile. All welcome.  Genie will give a beginner course on birds in the future.

16     Rates Inserts

Last month’s insert was on the game reduction programme but it was not emailed out.

It was thought that of 3500 property owners only 500 use the social media so the rates inserts are a good way to inform them by email and post.

17     Snake Removals

Easter weekend was busy with so many visitors but not all snakes were found.

Snakes removed from house – 1 spotted bush snake, 4 mozambique spitting cobras, 1 mole snake, 1 boomslang and 1 leguaan.

There was an incident of a visitor’s hand being bitten by a snake whilst in the Jacuzzi.  She put her hand over the side and the snake must have been below. She was transported by ambulance to Nelspruit and is reportedly fine.  One resident was spat in the eye but after repeatedly washing the eye was also fine.

18     Fire Fighting, Disaster Management

We will hold training on the unit next Thursday so there are a number of personnel able to use it.

19     Finance

The major expense was the bush clearing machine.

20     Winter Fair

The fair committee will meet after the next HR committee meeting on 11 May.

This will be John, Peter, Diana, Penelope, Genie, Andrew, Linda, Nellie and Jim.

Everyone will be asked to help on the day and if not available please inform us now.

21     General

Jacques of Bosnuus is giving a 60 day free trial to encourage people to sign up.  Maybe we can arrange a link to Bosnuus on the website.

Derrick asked about bush clearing in Marloth Park.  HRs are involved with clearing in Lionspruit and Alison Fitzgerald will do clearing in Marloth Park.  Consensus was not reached on the subject of selling the wood removed.  It may be necessary to do so to assist with costs.

Meeting finished at 11.15

 

Honorary Ranger General Meeting Dates

 May 28

 June 25

 July 23

 Aug 27

 Sep 24

Oct 29

Nov 26

December – no meeting