HONORARY RANGERS GENERAL MEETING 28 May 2015
1 The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting which was opened with a prayer and a minute’s silence for Cedric Mayson who passed away at the weekend.
HR Committee: John Webber (Chair), Joce Gordon (Vice-chair), Diana van Rensburg (Secretary), Nellie Morgan (Treasurer), Peter Craig-Cooper, Genie Retief, Andrew Hudson.
HR present: Hendrik Visser,Graeme Altenkirk, Lynette de Jong, Linda Benade, Dev Farquharson, Lenara Joubert, Frik Pienaar, Anrie Pienaar, Mike Bezuidenhout, Yula Bezhuidenhout.
Others present: Jennifer Webber, Jacques de Villiers, JJ van Rensburg, Jeanette Newey, Derrick Bruins-lich,Alex Rose-Innes.
Alex reports for the Corridor and Lowvelder. John gave a short introduction to the duties and responsibilities of HRs.
2 Apologies HR: Penelope Mayson, Jim Morgan, John Webb, Johan Veldsman, Andre Englebrecht, Peter Joubert.
3 New Honorary Rangers
The Chair welcomed new members and presented badges and caps to Lenara Joubert, Peter Joubert (not present), Mike Bezhuidenhout, Yula Bezhuidenhout.
4 Bush Snippets
Photos of a Rhombic Night Adder and the crocodile that was beheaded were shown.
A photo of the dam at Jackalberry Ridge was shown. It was pointed out that there had been a pan there for a long time but now a wall approximately 1.5 m high has been build and a wooden deck. It is illegal to build walls around pans and it has been taken up with the Department of Water Affairs by Derrick Bruins-lich. The manager at Jackalberry said there was a small wall previously and they were just enlarging it.
A big male rogue giraffe which has chasedwalkers has been seen on the river road. It was suggested that someone may have been feeding it and it was looking for food.
5 NIG Feedback -Nkomazi Interest Group
John Webber gave feedback from the last NIG meeting which Derrick also attended.This was a small meeting with some key people not able to attend. The difficulties in dealing with poachers continue. Sniffer dogs at Malelane had alerted attention to a bakkie which had rifles in it. KNP has embarked on training of pilots for the helicopters.
The haul of rhino horns recovered in Mozambique had been held by some police who had substituted fake horn and taken the real horn. There have been arrests of police involved.
The amount of traffic at night in KNP has been raised and should be discussed at the next NIG meeting with the authorities.
6 FORUM meeting
This was an informal meeting of the organisations involved in the Forum i.e. HR, MPPOA and Conservancy plus Care 4 Marloth and Wildlife Trust. There was concern about the informal organisations that have no mandate or structure attending these meetings. John and Pat agreed that the way forward was working together, sharing information and moving forward as a team. There should be respect and trust between the organisations and not to attack others especially on the social media. Jacques asked about HR attending MPPOA meeting and it was pointed out that Joce represents HR and gives feedback on activities. Alex pointed out that social media should not be used to attack people personally and question their competence. Instead it should be a debate of the issues involved.
Alex was questioned about the report on the culling that was published which gave a very one sided view. A property owner who gave incorrect information was quoted in the press but apparently no one in the organisations would give the other side of the story, despite being given opportunities to correct the statements. The media tries to give both sides of an issue but if it can only get one side of a story it will publish that.It was of concern to all when incorrect information was published about Marloth Parke.g. the inaccurate reporting of the membership numbers of MPPOA. Jacques of Bosnuus tries to give a balanced report of issues and suggested that these be read first.
Communication is paramount in the current crisis in Marloth Park. It should ideally be the municipality who informs the property owners of the game reduction measures being taken. The police also should be informed so if any property owner phones to complain then they are aware of the circumstances. Notices should be at the gates regarding carrying of guns. In a Conservancy it is not permitted to carry guns. Alex reported that it was difficult to get to speak to the information officer of Nkomazi. Municipalities are usually very cautious in giving out information. Honorary Rangers will not be quoted in the press but will assist in giving factual information.
7 Game Reduction
As previously minuted, Nkomazi held a meeting with the Forum and the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Board (MTPB), Veterinary Services and Mauricedale Abattoir and agreed to the numbers of animals to be reduced. These numbers have been widely published. The municipality appointed Wildlife Pharmaceuticals to manage the game reduction programme in its entirety. Wildlife Pharmaceuticals in turn outsource the actual capture to an experienced company and find customers for the game. A game farm in Mozambique is taking 80% of the game with some being sold locally. The transport permits took longer than expected but have now been assigned. MTPB can only issue the capture permits once the logistics are finalised as they are only valid for 30 days.
Wildlife Pharmaceuticals have supplied two containers of game feed (Lucerne and pellets) and will deliver a third container which the municipal rangers distribute. Zebras are naturally the dominant feeders.
20 impalas and 2 kudus have already been darted for local sale. It is now expected that they will start the captureat beginning of June.Passive capture will take too long and it is likely that they will use helicopters to herd the animals into bomas to load onto the transport. We all believed that no cloven foot animals could be taken over the red line which is the railway line for Marloth Park. However if they are transported over the line and come back over the line in Mozambique without being let out of the transport, it is allowed. If there is to be culling then the company appointed probably Mauricedale Abattoir will prepare the animals here and then transport over the red line to the abattoir.
The warthogs have been culled already but the feeling is that the number was too conservative. Veterinary students have tested some of the carcases and found very high levels of disease. Warthogs are the biggest spreader of TB and as the animals in Marloth tend to eat from the same feeding spot the disease spreads to all.It is not ideal to feed animals but it will never stop in Marloth Park.
8 Snares, Death and Poaching
No figures were available. There was recently shooting along the fence. The authorities request residents to report any shots they hear but to stay away in case they are caught in the cross fire.
9 Ranger Activities
John showed photos of the bush encroachment work being done in Lionspruit by with HRs with the municipal rangers. This is a long term project, maybe never ending. Work parties usually Mondays.
A crocodile which was caught at Kamhlushwawater works was released in Jackalberry Dam in Lionspruit. It could be seen from the photos that it was a good size and when it was being released and the last tape taken off its snout, it spun round and clapped its jaw causing all the rangers present to leap on the bakkies. This could be interesting if the reeds in the dam againneed chopping back. A week later it is still there. Another crocodile from the neighbouring farm apparently moves between the two dams.
John and Graeme will erect 4 “bokkie” signs which request the reporting of wild fires.
10 River Road
Jan Koekemoer has filled some deep pot holes in the river road as shown on a photo. Flip Minaar is using equipment and labour to upgrade the road but needs material as there is no budget for this. Although it is actually a Veterinary Services road they are not interested in its upkeep. John has asked for donations and Alwyn Kruger very kindly has donated bags of cement. Lafarge Quarry has agreed to donate 6 tons of sand and gravel. The road is badly damaged after heavy rains and although there are booms to close it people open these and drive anyway. The signs saying 4 x 4s only can be removed for now. This repair work will provide a pleasant drive for vehicles and retain hiking trails for the public.
The parking areas at Jackalberry and Two Trees also need attention. Some benches on the river road need logs to stop soil erosion and logs or cut sickle bush need to be placed on tracks that people have cut through from Seekoeiroad to the river road. Parthenium has been noted along the river.
The water supply which leads to croc dam was not working at the valve on Hornbill as the pipe had been cut. Whilst fixing this, the pipe underground which was rusty broke. Sam from the municipality helped John fix this on Easter Saturday afternoon. This extra effort is much appreciated.
A photo was shown of the volunteers at the fire training. More work is still needed on the various connections.
A photo of the municipal sign at Gate 2shows it is very faded. The sign has been taken down and Jaco has asked if HR can pay for this to be redone. The quote is R1 300.00 per sign and Jaco will see if he can claim from the municipality for this work at a later stage. A sign of “no firearms” is needed as advised by the police.
The front loader which belongs to the municipality refuse department has finally been removed from in front of 3991.
11 Henk van Rooyen Dam
The rangers have turned the ground so it can be mixed with bentonite. Once this is complete then water will be pumped. There is also Parthenium at the dam
There is no “Working for Water” teams currently in Marloth Park but Joce has motivated for four teams. There was a national symposium held for WfW but it was more of a budget meeting than advice on herbicides.
There is no longer a hole at the dump to put alien plants in andthe sign that was erected for this has disappeared.
Joce has a supply of herbicide if property owners require some.
Joce and Genie have been working on a new brochure on alien plants. There will be new photos and layout. Genie has received an anonymous donation of R1000 but the cost will be in the region of R15 000.00.We will probably only be able to print this after the fair as we need to raise more funds.
The bird posters are up at Jackalberry Dam Bird Hide – photos shown.
Bush encroachment work parties on Mondays.
There is no decision on bush braais in Lionspruit and this is on hold until after the game capture.
14 Website /Facebook / Rates Inserts
Andrew asked for articles to publish on the website. John Webb is away but is able to post.
15 Bush Walk / Talk
The last walk and talk was led by Keith Knorr and was well attended and enjoyed. We will advertise when the next walk and talk will be held.
16 Bird Walks
The bird walk is on 1st Saturday of the month. Next one 6 June 2015starts 7.00 at c/o Volstruis and Crocodile.All welcome.
17 Rates Inserts
Andrew met with Cornelia to get an up to date list of the property owners who receive their account by email. There are so many emails bounced back. The municipality is aware of the problem but the problem lies between the IT department and the server people. Andrew is trying to source software to validate addresses so everyone will receive rates inserts in the future.
Next rates insert will be on Owls. Genie will research suitable poisons for rodents which won’t affect the owls.
18 Snake Removal
6snake removals in May - 2 Mozambique Spitting Cobras, 1 Boomslang, 1 Puff Adder, 1 Black Mamba, 1 Cape Wolf snake and a dead gecko in a lodge which scared the visitors.
19 Fire Fighting, Disaster Management
Stuart Long was in charge of the fire fighting meeting held this month and organised the volunteers. They still need one more volunteer to be responsible for the area between Renoster and Maroela. They are also sourcing correct nozzles.
The main expenses were for caps, decals etc. for new HRs and fittings for the fire hose. Payments have started coming in for stall bookings at the fair.
21 Winter Fair
Preparations are underway and emails sent out to prospective stall holders. We should also post on the website so we can reach all interested parties.
Genie is to run a “Choose an unknown bottle table” at the fair and made an appeal for bottles. These can be expensive spirits or bottles filled with sweets. Her target is 500.Frik and Anrie will run a “white elephant stall”.
Linda has done a display of alien plants outside Field Offices where keys are collected and in the reception at HvR.
Derrick made a good suggestion that we take photos before bush clearing, afterwards and then a few months later to monitor the outcome and success of this project..
Meeting finished 10.30
Honorary Rangers general meeting dates
December no meeting
June 8, July 6, August 10, September 7, October 12, November 9