HONORARY RANGERS GENERAL MEETING
24 September 2015
1 The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting which was opened with a prayer.
HR Committee: John Webber (Chair), Diana van Rensburg (Secretary), Genie Retief, Peter Craig-Cooper, Andrew Hudson.
HR present: Linda Benade, Dev Farquharson, Lynette de Jong,Peter Joubert, Penelope Mayson, Annemarie Esterhuizen, Tom Esterhuizen., Frik Pienaar.
Others present: Jennifer Webber, Jeanette Newey, Jane Campbell, Derek Bruins-Lich.
2 Apologies HR: John Webb,Joce Gordon, Graeme Altenkirk, Lenara Joubert, Anri Pienaar, Johan Veldsman, Oubaas Visser, Nellie Morgan, Jim Morgan, Mike Bezuidenhout, Yula Bezuidenhout.
3 Bush Snippets
There is a kudu which has some piping around its leg. The rangers are trying to find it.
There was a report of a kudu attacking a lady, who had not been feeding it. She needed stitches and returned to Pretoria immediately. There was also a report of a kudu attacking a vehicle.
Feeding can lead to aggression when the animals are expecting to be fed and don’t receive food, otherwise let’s hope it’s not rabies. Care should be taken when feeding as these are wild animals not pets.This is also a problem in the Kruger Park, particularly in picnic areas. An idea was observed in a camping area where a leopard skin was draped over a log. This measure seems tokeep the monkeys and baboons away.
There are still 8 young ostriches.
A large python was spotted at a building site in Kiaat St. John Webber and Dennis Goffinet removed it and letit go up a tree.
A photo of the bench at the bottom of Swartwitpenswas shown. This has now been repaired.
4 NIG Feedback - Nkomazi Interest Group
The monthly meeting which was to be held today was postponed.
Last month’s meeting gave feedback on the locations of poaching incidents.
The KNP have regular aerial censuses of the rhino and the last finding was that the population had increased by 4% despite the poaching activities. There are also a large number of animals including elephants and wild dogs which have snares caught on them. Spotters are paid up to R30 000 and everyone should be aware of any unusual attention of rhinos when seen across the river from MP.
KNP staff are also seen out in vehicles during the night by visitors.
The effectiveness of the army in KNP was questioned.
5 Forum Meeting
No meeting was held but John communicated with Pat Wilmans after his meeting with Velly.
6 Game Reduction
We held a game count on 14 September. MP was divided into 6 sectors with one vehicle per sector each having 5-8 people as spotters. It was planned so the vehicles moved away from each other to lessen the chances of double counting. The figures were given to Vellyand MPPOA and have been widely published. The figures highlighted the main problem of impala and kudus.
Impala counted 393 vs aerial count of 253.
Females 279 - males 114 ie 70% females giving a ratio of 2.44 :1. Ideal ratio is 5:1
A totalof 650 impala have been culled however more need to be removed. Warthog are still being shot but culling can only take place up until next week and then again in April 2016.
7 Game Numbers
It was thought that there were 40 giraffe but only 20 were counted. It is difficult to explain the discrepancy. It is impossible to be totally accurate however the idea is to look at the trends to estimate expected numbers. There were many troops of monkeys and baboons counted which is worrying. If there is no food in MP they should have moved into KNP. The same situation goes for the warthogs.
MPT(Mpumalanga Parks and Tourism) are aware of the situation in MP regarding GeranRaath walking away without completing the game removal program. He probably did not make enough to cover the high costs and this could be due to the difficulty of finding buyers for diseased animals.
8 Snares, Death and Poaching
No figures were availablefrom the municipality again.
9 Ranger Activities
Work parties were held on Mondays for the clearing of sickle bush. These will stop now as it is too late in the season. We will look at more protective gear for this activity in future. One of the areas we cleared will be left to see how the grasses recover. John has seen the area which was cleared by the Care for Marloth volunteer groupand commended the good work. That area will be seed-bombed so the areas can be compared.
10 Impala Dam
John repaired the Lister Diesel engine at Impala Dam which drives the pump and showed photos ofof the rhinos and buffalo which were in the water when he arrived.
11 Grass Seed
We have packed the grass seed and will have to order more. Sales have been good. It is encouraging that so many people are prepared to plant grass seed in different forms and it will be interesting to see what method is most effective. We only have a small amount of grass seed remaining to be repacked. If anyone is in Pretoria then more seed needs to be collected otherwise John is going up mid-October.
12 Brochure on Alien Plants
Genie has proofread the last pages and is now waiting for the quotation for printing. It is still undecided whether to distribute it for free, sell, or ask for donations. We wouldlike all property owners to have a copy and take responsibility for their own stand.
Other ideas were discussed such as asking the cleaning services to distribute leaflets to their clients as Mopani Cleaning has done in the past. We could approach garden services to try to explain to the owners that a bare earth policy is not correct. It does not help to instruct individual gardeners who have to report to the owners, rather speak to owners direct.
A property cannot be sold if there are alien plants on the stand and owners can be fined for having alien plants, althoughthis is difficult to enforce at this stage.
We should be looking at spraying Parthenium and it was debated whether it is better to do it now while the rosettes are small or wait for the flowers to develop. The herbicide, which is approved and registered for Parthenium is also harmful for the soil. Tom has a contact and will investigate if there is a new product which is not harmful to the environment. We need to check how many sprayers we have in good working order.
The vultures have cleaned up all the carcasses in Lionspruit.
15 Website /Facebook – No report
16 Bird Walk - 1st Saturday of the month
Next walk 3 October2015 at 6.30 am.Meet at c/o Volstruis and Crocodile.All welcome.
17 Rates Inserts
The article for October will bring attention to the Ralf Kalwe report. Implementation is the manager’s responsibility but there are guidelines in the report for property owners to follow.
It was asked if the rates insert was going out with the emailed accounts as no-one has received it yet.
18 Snake Removal
4snake removals in September- 2 spotted bush snakes, 1 olive grass snake and 1 python.
19 Fire Fighting, Disaster Management
A meeting was held on 23 September. Peter J has prepared a response plan with procedures. Hard copies have been given out and others will be emailed. A display at the shopping centres to try to raise funds is still under consideration. There will be 5 functional bakkiesakkies – HR, Petrus at Jackalberry Ridge, MPPOA, a new one being built by Graham Johnson and the municipality one which needs a small part repaired. It would be advisable to keep one in a secure central area. There is still ongoing work on the hydrants, many of which don’t work and the hydrants on gate 2 side have different fittings.
There was recently a fire at an estate near the Vaal where 24 house burnt down. There were apparently no fire hydrants. This could have serious repercussions for insurance purposes.
The major expense was the purchase of grass seed but money will come in from sales.
Linda – Reported observing a delegation doing an inspection at the dump. Hopefully some action will be taken.
Jeanette Newey reported lots of grasshoppers on her stands.
Ina Steele has sent emails out regarding the river road saying she has received donations and has pipes to fix the roads. HRs will not support or allocate resources to opening the roads for vehicles. There are some loops open for vehicles and the rest are walking trails. Ecotourism has changed and more people want to walk and cycle. As noted previously the river road is actually for the Veterinary Services who need access but will not maintain it. We are more concerned with the erosion which is getting worse with each rain or flood. It may be better to stem the erosion using builder’s rubble as land fill.
Derrick had not been present at the last meeting where the “stompie tins” at Two Trees parking area had been discussed. These were installed by Marlothii Conservancy and were still in a test phase to see if it helped the situation. He did not seem to think it just encouraged more rubbish to be left in the tins. There are 3 people who clean up and empty the tins at Two Trees – Derrick, John Marais and a couple who walk along there. This is fine for now but may not be sustainable long term. Any initiativehowever is to be welcomed. Ultimately people have to be encouraged to take their rubbish away with them. We do not want bins at the main parking areas as some people would then leave their household rubbish in them, as happened on Olifants.
It should be noted that cigarette ends / stompies are litter and do not decompose on the ground.
Other suggestions were made and it was still thought that notices should be put upasking people to report any misconduct and littering to the LEOs along with a contact number.
Honorary Rangers general meeting dates October 29, November 26, December no meeting
Committee meeting October 12, November 9