26    November 2015


1              Joce Gordon welcomed everyone to the meeting.


HR Committee:                 Joce Gordon (Chair), Diana van Rensburg (Secretary), Genie Retief, Peter Craig-Cooper, Nellie Morgan.

HR present:                         Linda Benade, John Webb, Lynette de Jong, Annemarie Esterhuizen, Tom Esterhuizen, Jim Morgan.

Others present:                Derek Bruins-Lich, Jeanette Newey, JJ van Rensburg, Jeff Newman, Michael Young, Dorothy Young, Paula Volkmer.

2      Apologies HR:            John Webber, Penelope Mayson,  Andrew Hudson, Lenara Joubert, Oubaas Visser, Dev Farquarson, Andre Englebrecht, Graeme Altenkirk, Anri Pienaar, Frik Pienaar, Johan Veldsman, Peter Joubert, Mike Bezuidenhout, Yula Bezuidenhout.                                                                     

3      Bush Snippets 

Photo - Ostriches with 8 young ones who are quite big now.  They were eating parthenium and we are not sure what will be the effects of this.  Young kudu have also been observed eating parthenium.

Photo - The giraffe who pushed over the fence and went into Kruger.  It was greeting a giraffe on Marloth side.

Photo – Water leak in Naboom Street which eventually was fixed.

Photos - 3 insects which were identified as Dice Moth caterpillar, Cotton Stainer and a member of the horned beetle family.

Peter commented on the numerous dung beetles at present, Woodlands Kingfishers have returned and Jeanette saw a Pygmy Kingfisher.

4      FORUM meeting

Tony Hayman, John Webber, Joce Gordon, Derek Bruins-lich and Keith Knorr attended a meeting and the following items were discussed:

Culling – Stopped on 14 November 2015 when permit expired.

Support of municipal feeding programmes.

Retirement Village – No EIA has been done and it is unlikely to be approved due to the proximity of the dump site.

Rehabilitation of the Veld – little action until it rains.

Gate Control –MPPOA’s proposal is a basic concept only.  As they were not allowed sufficient time to submit their document, copies were only sent to the Forum members after it was lodged with the Municipality.

5      Herbicide meeting

The Conservancy invited HR to a talk given by Mike Martyn on Herbicides. This proved interesting and he did agree that there is no approved herbicide for parthenium.  At present Viroaxe and Garlon are used.  He approved of our approach to bush encroachment i.e. taking out only a few sickle bush in small areas and recommended Caput Gel which can be painted on cut stumps so no herbicide reaches the ground.

6              Conservation Braai

We are holding a ‘bring and braai’ for the municipal rangers at 11.00 on 4th December 2015 in Henk van Rooyen.  Conservancy members have been invited to join.  HR will supply food and drinks for the Municipal rangers.  Uniforms are not necessary.

7              Repairs to the Seekoei track

Photos were shown of the work performed by Flip Minaar.  He using rocks to fill in the erosion areas along Seekoei.

8              Fund Raising Raffle

We are having a raffle for Christmas pudding - tickets available at R10.00.

Draw will be at the braai.  Please give all your tickets and money to Diana at the braai.

9              Fund Raising – future proposal

Genie described “Vanishing Tea Parties” which will be held to raise funds next year.

10           Flora – Grass seed

We have ordered a double batch which John Webber will bring back and packing group will be arranged.  We want to have grass seed available as it lasts 2 years but do not advise planting until the rains start.  We only have 3 bags available for Daisy’s Den.

11           New Alien Plant Brochure

Genie has done the final proof read and we need to chase up the printing although this is now the printers’ busy time.  Due to the high cost it was decided to sell the brochure at R5.00.  We still have old brochures which can be distributed free.

12           Backpack Spray Packs

Joce and Oubaas have been checking the packs and Oubaas has been repairing them.

4 dark green ones – John Webber, Peter CC, Di and Oubaas.

1 light green – Joce

3 bubble packs – Oubaas has repaired 2 and is still working on one.  2 are in the container.

Photos were shown of Oubaas spraying the parthenium at the Depot.  Since this has already flowered the seeds could be spread by the many vehicles using the depot.

13           Australian Pest Pear (Prickly Pear)

Photos have been sent by Alison Fitzgerald showing prickly pear in Naboom which had been dug up and placed in trees where bits fall off and start growing again.  It was suggested that it could be the working for water teams who are doing this.  However they are not working in that area.  They have instructions not to do this but to take them out with roots and carry them in a box and then place in the middle of the road.  Small Queen-of-the-Nights can also be put in the middle of the road but large ones should be removed and taken to the dump.

14           Thabelo Masemola’s visit

Thabelo is the Sanparks/Working for Water Project Manager and arranges work for 50 teams.  Terence, Genie, Diana and Joce met with him when he explained the planning for the next financial year which starts in April.  We motivated for teams to work here and since we are very active and involved with the teams he is keen to assist us.  We took him into Lionspruit to show the triffid weed on the neighbouring farm which then spreads into Lionspruit. He will arrange contracts with the farm and Terence has offered to supervise since this infestation directly impacts on Lionspruit.  Photos of the triffid were shown.

15           Alien Plants – WFW report

Diana gave feedback and showed photos of 2 Working for Water teams who arrived promptly after the meeting with Thabelo but without warning.  One team has worked in the area of Olifants - Ratel - Swartwitpens - Renoster and the other Gate 2 - Olifants - Erdwark - petrol station plus a section in Lionspruit in Frikkies Dam area.   They have been removing prickly pear, pulling and spraying Parthenium, cutting and spraying Lantana and taking out any other alien plants.  One team finishes Friday 27th and the other the next week.  It is important for HRs to visit and supervise the teams for a time every day and she thanked everyone who has been helping. 

 A delegation from SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute) visited to check on emerging weeds.  Joce, Di and Terence met to discuss and we took them to 5 “hot spots” - photos.  They took samples and will get back to us on identification and categorisation.

16           Rates Insert – Rehabilitation of the bush on our stands

There have been problems emailing the inserts but Andrew is working on a solution. 

17           Fauna – Aerial Game count

Joce, Terence and Oubaas were in the helicopter for the aerial game count.  It was felt the count started too late in the day, it went too fast and it was too late in the season as the thick canopy of the trees in riverine and house areas made it hard to see the animals.  It was noted that there are huge areas of Lionspruit which are desolate and the animals are in the drainage lines/dam areas.  Therefore it was concluded that little reliance can be placed on these figures when they are released.

18           Game Reduction

The culling finished on the 14 November and no further permits will be issued this year.  The numbers should be assessed again in February taking into account the figures from the first aerial count and the ground count.  The figures of the reduction programme have not been released by the Nkomazi Municipality.  Warthogs are classed as a pest animal and permits are not required to take them out.  The municipal rangers can shoot at any time but it is too late in the season as many have had babies and with school holidays approaching, the park will be full.  However the warthogs are undoing all the good work on rehabilitation of the veld and numbers must be monitored.

Peter suggested it would be good if we could introduce new bloodlines for the kudu as the inbreeding makes them more aggressive.  Questions were asked if we could introduce small predators to take out the increasing numbers of mongoose.  If the bush was more open the aerial predators could also take some.

The removal of giraffe was discussed.  One giraffe has died and one giraffe pushed the fence down and went into the Kruger, although it is now seen close to the fence as if wanting to come back - photo.  Only giraffe smaller than 14 feet can be transported. Other problems in transporting are crossing the red line and buyers may be wary of animals from Marloth Park being diseased.  Only zebras are not affected by possible foot and mouth.  The high cost of capture can make it not financially viable.

19           Feeding of Animals

The Wild Life Fund is running a feeding programme using donations received and HR supports the feeding of the animals.  They are putting out good quality Lucerne.  The municipality do not appear to have a feeding programme at this time.

20           Clearing of Bones in Lionspruit

Photos were shown of the large numbers of bones in Lionspruit at sites which are only accessible to the rangers.  The vultures have cleaned the bones and the rangers are collecting them in piles.  Flip Minaar will dig a large hole for them to be buried.  There is a danger of disease in the bones.  The field rangers’ priority is checking the Lionspruit electric fence so the work is taking time.

21           Lions in Lionspruit

Photos were shown of the 2 lions who are in good condition.  They were on a zebra kill and have recently taken down a buffalo which was probably a sub-adult or an ill/old animal.

22           Jackalberry Dam

The donor who provided funds for the bird hide wants a toilet built there.   When this work is being done we will also work on providing flat areas to attract waders.

23           Website

As mentioned there has been a problem with the delivery of the emailed rates inserts. 2000 are sent manually and another 500 over and above what Andrew already has, can be sent out electronically.  Andrew is working on a new email programme.  The rates inserts are published on the website.

24           Facebook

John Webb reported that there is approximately 1500 hits per posting.

He has set up an album on identification of the 10 most common snakes in Marloth Park.  He has posted information on 3 snakes so far, which have been well received. 

25           Bird Walk - 1st Saturday of the month

Next walk 5 December 2015 at 6.00 am.  Meet at c/o Volstruis and Crocodile.  All welcome.  Breakfast afterwards at Jabula Lodge.  No bird walk in January.

26           Snake Removal

John Webb reported on snake removals and mentioned that JJ and neighbour Don had caught a female Boomslang and released it in Lionspruit.  Chris Hobkirk confirmed the identification from photos.  John had a python which he had just caught at the bottom of a pond in a garden on Swartwitpens.  This was shown afterwards with many people interested in handling the snake.

2 spotted bush snakes were removed last month.

There are a number of people now trained to catch and remove snakes.  It would be interesting to keep a register of all snakes removed so if possible please report these to John.

27           Finances             

The only expenses were bank charges.  Cash from grass sales was used to reimburse claims.

28           AGM

The AGM will be held on 14 January 2016.  This will be a closed meeting for HRs only.   John Webber will send out nomination forms to nominate people for the committee.  Please ensure the person you plan to nominate, will accept.  The elected committee will vote for the chief HR and other key positions.

29           General Meeting

This will be on 28 January 2016 at 8.00 am

30           General

Jeff Newman was thanked for goods donated.

JJ reported that it is National Birding Day on Saturday and a team of 4 will spend the day in Marloth Park bird watching.  These numbers will be reported to Genie and may be used for updating the Marloth Park Bird Brochure in the future.

Annemarie asked if there were toilets at the gates so the security do not have to use the veld.  Tom will check.  Paula also mentioned that even though she provided toilets for her builders they use the veld.

Sharon will be holding a fair on 19th December.  Volunteers are requested to help on the stand.

Honorary Rangers general meeting dates                                             28 January 2016