HONORARY RANGERS GENERAL MEETING
28 April 2016
Peter Craig-Cooper welcomed everyone to the meeting and had the sound system with microphone working.Graeme opened the meeting with a prayer.
1 Present: Peter Craig-Cooper (CHR), Genie Retief (2ic), Diana van Rensburg (Secretary), Nellie Morgan (Treasurer), Jim Morgan, John Webber, Joce Gordon, Graeme Altenkirk,Lynette de Jong,Penelope Mayson, Oubaas Visser, Dev Farquharson, Rob Farquharson, Andrew Hudson, John Webb, Frik Pienaar, Anri Pienaar.
Jennifer Webber,JJ van Rensburg, Jane Campbell, Evan Powell, Uschi Powell, Errol Potgeiter.
2 Apologies : Johan Veldsman, Peter Joubert, Lenara Joubert,Annemarie Esterhuizen, Tom Esterhuizen, Linda Benade, Lizzy Modiga.
3 Bush Snippets
Jaco had reported that the lions have been catchinglarger game.
Peter showed a photo of a line of termites which had built up a small tower.
A photo of the bridge with a broken plank over a wash away on the walking trail was shown.
Other photos were shown of the latest work party where large Prickly Pears, Queen of the Night and Queen of the Night Mutation were shown.
4 Forum meeting / report back from last meeting
A Forum meeting, as well as an emergency Forum meeting was held to discuss the loss of the 2 rhinos. This loss has been widely reported. The autopsy report has still not been received.
Various problems of the female rhino were discussed and although the municipal rangers monitor the whereabouts of the rhino the vet suggested that the condition is noted as well, so if there is any deterioration it can be addressed early.
Afurther discussion was on whether to find female rhinos and or whether to remove one of the males if they are fighting. First we need to consult with Velly who is on leave. Tony via the Forum is investigating the feasibility of suitable female rhinos and the costs involved including transport. If we can locate a female, should we remove oneof the male rhino.
There is an intensive feeding programme for the buffalo and the two rhinos. Bulk feed is in short supply nationwide due to the drought. It should ideally be Lucerne and not a mixture which is often the case in the bales from the side of the N4. If we can source bulk food it is preferable to buy and store, which is another problem.
We have not received any figures of the culling but it appears that the numbers are low. Mauricedale contractors have not been performing well and now do not have the capacity to take impalas due to reducing the number of impala on their own farm by 800. The Rangers have applied to extend the permit.
MPTB will be holding a meeting with the Forum, the Municipality and Marloth in Crisis group. There may be underlying plans behind Marloth in Crisis wanting to halt the culling.
5 Education / bird walks/talks
The bird walk in April was well attended and photos of some of the birds spotted have been printed and these will be on display at the fair. We would like to thank John Bryson who took the photos and paid for laminating.
The next bird walk is on Saturday 7th May at 6.30. Meet cnr Crocodile/ Volstruis. Breakfast at Jabula afterwards. All are welcome.
A talk “Know Your Alien Plants” was held at Field where the display of alien plants is.Joce explainedidentification and how to get rid of these plants. Everyone is urged to attend at least one talk. The next one will be advertised.
The camera club held a second successful meeting. The next one is planned for 19 May 2016 at 18.00 at Henk van Rooyen. We will again advertise it. A committee has been set up and we are asking for more people to be involved on the committee. Please contact Diana on 082 296 4477. We would also welcome experienced and knowledgeable photographers to share their expertise with us.Camera clubs usually are an opportunity for people to show their images and get constructive criticism to enable them to improve their techniques. The main disadvantage at present is the poor quality of the projector and screen and various options are being investigated. We will be arranging a workshop in daytime to assist with settings on the cameras.
6 Fund Raising – Winter Fair 9 July 2016
The committee for the winter fair will hold their second meeting on Thursday 5 May 2016 at 9.00 am at Nellie and Jim’s house to report back on progress. Genie requested bottles for the stall (target 400 bottles) and Anri will run a “White Elephant” stall so is starting to collect items.
7 Work parties
Graeme is running work parties, usually on Mondays, to place (cochineal) biocontrol on Prickly Pear. All volunteers are welcome. Contact Graeme 082 468 8357. Work parties now start 6.30 am and last 2 hours. He will send a WhatsApp reminder the day before. We still need more education on dealing with alien plants. Prickly Pear and Queen of the Night, which has been put on the road should not be put back in the bush.
A work party to repair the bridge on the walking trail will be organised. Some benches need repair and the parking areas need work.
8 Flora – Alien weeds/Veld Management/Lionspruit and MP
We are still waiting to hear when teams of Working for Water will be allocated. Diana has contacted the head office and is waiting for a response.
A workparty tackled the area, which had previously been treated with biocontrol, at Crocodile and Volstruis. We had been advised that since the biocontrol was not working well we should try chemical means along the road to prevent spread by walkers and cars. We sprayed, cut and bagged the heads of the plants and sprayed the cut stalks and pulled out some small plants. We will follow up to see how effective this has been.Lorraine Strathie from ARC (Agriculture Research Council) visited to check on the biocontrol in Lionspruit and Marloth Park and has given some recommendations on the control of Parthenium. Biocontrol is critical for long term management of Parthenium but registered herbicides should be used on infestations prior to flowering / seeding with repeated follow ups. Seeds can be viable in the soil for 6 years.
We will continue work parties in conjunction with Conservancy. We were reminded to check shoes after working to prevent bringing seed back to our own properties.
There is no hole to dump alien plants at the dump site but they can be placed on the thatch which will be burnt. Joce reported that there will be a hole provided by the Rangers for the large amounts of alien plants that we may have after work parties.
9 Game management and game counts
No report – already covered.
10 Public Liaison – Facebook / Website
Andrew reported that the rates inserts were being emailed to 1342 property owners who have registered for email account with the municipality. A couple of recipients have unsubscribed but a couple have sent thank you emails. 40% are opened. (Industry average is 5%). Genie asked that the new alien plant brochure be published on the website. The website should be for reference with Facebook for topical – news breaking items. Articles are needed. Genie has a contact who has commented that the website is well run and is willing to have his articles and photos on wild flowers published.
Facebook receives 1500 views per week but John Webb is concerned that we are not reaching many of the residents who are not electronically connected. MPPOA is trying to update all contact details of property owners. We also post rates inserts with the accounts to 1500 owners.
11 Lion tracking/reporting
Joce reported that the lions have taken down big game recently.
12 Snake report
John Webb and John Webber have removed:
3 Mozambique Spitting Cobras, 1 Puff Adder, 1 Boomslang.
Riaan from Field has removed
4 Mozambique Spitting Cobras, 1 Puff Adder, 3 small Pythons. The pythons were all in houses.
There will be less snake activity now as it becomes cooler.
Peter almost stood on a Mozambique Spitting Cobra which reared up making a noise. The noise was probably caused by the snake body moving against a rough surface. A man was bitten recently by a Mozambique Spitting Cobra while he was sitting in his chair with his hands down at the side. He went to hospital but didn’t need anti venom. John was asked to check the house.
John Marais, the expert herpetologist, reported in his latest newsletter that there were increasing reports of snakes inside house. He suspects that snakes, in particular Mambas and Boomslangs, come into the house after the bushbabies.
13 Lionspruit infrastructure / Jackalberry dam / bird habitat/toilet building/veld burning
We will get a second quote for the toilet at Jackalberry Dam and then present them to the donor.
The water level is very low and we need to check the area to be prepared for waders. Genie has a contact in Nelspruit who will come and give advice. We will cover petrol costs.
No feedback if bush burning is necessary this year.
14 Finances / Asset Register
Nellie reported on the finances and there have been few expenses this month.
There are many street name signs missing. This will be taken forward to the Forum meeting.
HR will hold a braai on 12 May at 16.30 at Nellies house 3968 Erdwark St.
All reports are that there will be an increased risk of fire this winter. The Fire committee will be checking hydrants etc.
Dev reported that a home owner was hostile when first advised of the alien plants on their stand. However the gardener removed them and Graeme transported them to the dump. The home owner phoned to say thank you.