The year 2016 proved to be a little controversial with a number of positive accomplishments intermingled with a number of disappointments.
Firstly I would like to thank all the Honorary Rangers, past and present for all their dedicated work in their numerous undertakings and involvement throughout the year. The committee members have worked hard drawing from their individual expertise and lead by example. Our secretary Diana has kept us all up-to-date and informed with everything that took place throughout the year.
Sadly we lost many of our members throughout the year, namely Yula and Mike Bezuidenhout in March, John Webber in September and Frik and Anri Pienaar in October. Genie stood down as 2ic and has just requested a three-month sabbatical period of three months. Graeme and Evan were then co-opted onto the committee. Evan stood in as 2ic for the rest of the year. Dev’s Farquharson tragic death in December left everyone filled with grief.
On the positive side we gained Rob Farquharson and Lizzy Modiga, in March, Mel Fennel in October and Paul and Sandra Dill-Franzen in November.
At the beginning of the year we reached out to Conservancy and Wildlife Fund to join forces on conservation issues and to try to eliminate any public disagreements. Conservancy accepted this invitation and the committee arranged social meetings to further cement this newly formed bond. Sadly the tight bond was broken later in the year. Wildlife fund would only engage with us at the Forum meetings.
We insisted that the Forum get together every month (which was not the case the previous l year) and this was implemented, just unfortunate that no minutes were taken at the commencement. Many important decisions were agreed to early in the year particularly on the culling issue, which dominated throughout the year. All groups stood firm on the decision to drastically remove game. We have been lobbying for the implementation to stop “night walkers” which has now paid off, and we will continue to lobby to stop people walking through parkland and properties in addition to the removal of dustbin cages in order to reduce the litter.
We committed ourselves to both of Sharon’s Fairs at the Marlothi Centre on March 26th and December 17th . We are very grateful to Sharon for the donations we received from funds raised by her.
Our Winter Fair, on 9 July was our largest combined undertaking during the year where everyone put their 100% into the successful running of the event. It was just sad that we were forced to split the event in having alcohol being sold down in the restaurant area. We are in the process of getting our own liquor licence this year, our application having already been submitted and published. A number of other changes have been tasked, one of them being outsourcing the food this year. Dev’s tireless work with the stallholders will be sorely missed but I have the utmost confidence that Penelope will stand up to the task. We need to revamp all our display boards at Marlothi the Bush Centre, the Municipal reception area and all our display boards for the Winter Fair. Sandra has already made a start on this.
We undertook to organize two ground counts this year the first on 11 February so that game numbers for removal could be determined. The second count on 20 September provided numbers of Impala for further reductions. Many thanks to all those who participated.
Our Web site and Facebook page manned by Andrew Hudson and John Webb is our link with the residents. Andrew has undertaken a huge task in getting our monthly inserts out to many of the residents. His revamp has provided a professional look to the site. John has also kept residents up-to-date on day-to-day events and notices with many images and attended to many queries submitted by interested readers.
The Alien Plant Brochure, produced by Joce and Genie, was loaded onto our website in May in a book form and can be printed. Well over 1000 inserts mostly provided by Genie are sent out with the rates every month and approximately 700 of these are opened which is a very good percentage.
Activities undertaken during the year most of which are on-going include the following:
- Grass seed packing
- Snake removal
- Bird Courses and walks, Snake Courses and Bush walks. Nellie will advise us on the funds collected for these functions.
- Talks on “Know Your Alien Plants”
- Alien Plant stands at Field and Securicon
- Lion tracking
- Bench repairs
- Rock placing to protect open spaces
- Plan submitted to the Municipal Technical Department for berm construction to prevent soil erosion
- Alien plant removal
- Property inspections on residents request.
- Planning to integrate WFW teams in MP and the supervision of them.
- Winter Fair and Marlothi Fairs
- Information on activities and happenings in MP reported on our Facebook and Web Site. Plant of the month now gets published on our Web site.
- Monthly articles written and inserted in the rates accounts or posted by e mail.
- Maintenance in Lionspruit
- Offloading bales of lucerne from farmers.
- Producing fridge magnets and new bumper stickers
- Marketing grass seeds and magnets stickers through the shops in MP.
- Attending the Nkomazi Interest Group meetings in the KNP.
- Repairing the boom at gate 2.
- Purchased a new antennae for the Rangers so that they could continue monitoring the Rhino whereabouts.
- Arranged and paid for 2 new notices about the curfew for the booms at both gates.
- General patrolling throughout Marloth Park and Lionspruit.
- Many members worked tirelessly in many of the above activities and a big thank you to all concerned.
The unfortunate accident Tom Esterhuizen encountered while tree cutting in the KNP was a huge blow to us. It did however jolt us out of our comfort zone of being very lax with our safety procedures and non-existent indemnity forms. This has now been attended to and it is hoped that we can also look forward to adopting a constitution for the Honorary Rangers this year.
Graeme and Uschi attended a course on alien plants in Nelspruit in August and this has resulted in us getting very involved with their removal every Monday originally kicked started by Graeme and now run by Uschi and Evan. Great strides have been made with legislation investigation and how it can be used to assist us here in MP. It is encouraging to hear that many residents are now embracing all the hard work undertaken by Uschi. The participation of other group members on the Mondays is most encouraging and spells well for us all working together in the future.
The formation of a new group the MIC during the year created a lot of disruption with the on-going culling during the year.
The Forum meeting, which was attended by MIC last year was not very successful and has been reported verbatim on facebook. They were however invited to take part in the first meeting of 2017 and some common ground was positive and therefore encouraging. We still however have a long way to go to resolve the interdict they have put into place banning the use of firearms for culling.
We purchased a gazebo during the year to be used at our fairs and sound equipment to assist with the sound at our monthly meetings.
I would like to thank Stuart Long for his help with the new display boards at the Marlothi Centre and for also servicing the ranger’s generator for us.
The Municipal Rangers braai arranged on 18 November acknowledging the work and assistance we have received from them was a huge success.
The HR get together arranged by Nellie in December was attended by the majority of the members and proved a great idea.
Some disappointments that need attention this year:
The limited WFW team activity in MP. We need to push for more involvement with them this year. Diana has reported however that things are looking good after information just received from them on the work they intend embarking on in MP this year.
The loss of two of our rhino in April, still no report has been issued. – Jan Muller at the Forum meeting last year mentioned there is a possibility we could get a female from KNP, we are following up on this.
The Buffalo reduction in Lionspruit is also a sad reflection of our care for them. We appreciate all the hard work the Wildlife Fund has embarked on to not only raise funds for food but also the intensive feeding that had to be undertaken by them.
We have had numerous complaints from residents in the Gate 1 area about the harassment from a troop of baboons. One residents wife was attacked and many houses trashed. This has been reported to the Rangers and was tabled at the last Forum meeting. We need to come up with a plan before residents take this matter into their own hands.
Finally I am very disappointed at the number of break-ins taking place in MP in addition to the unacceptable rapes over the past months. I would like to take this opportunity to urge as many of you to try and find time to join and assist the Sector Watch groups so together we can try and put an end to this problem.
Chief Honorary Ranger