28    January 2016

Peter Craig-Cooper welcomed everyone to the meeting, especially the new visitors and members of Conservancy, Sector Policing, LEOs and Rangers.  It was encouraging to have everyone prepared to work together for the benefit of MP. 

1      Present : Peter Craig-Cooper (CHR), Genie Retief (2ic), Diana van Rensburg (Secretary), Joce Gordon, Nellie Morgan, Jim Morgan, Linda Benade, Lynette de Jong, Penelope Mayson,  Annemarie Esterhuizen, Tom Esterhuizen, Mike Bezuidenhout.

Derek Bruins-Lich, Sanet Bruins-Lich, Dan Modiga, Lizzy Modiga, Rob Farquharson, Errol Potgeiter, Jaco Minaar, JJ van Rensburg, Stuart Long, Jackie Valentine, Scottie Valentine, Jeanette Newey, Paula Volkmer, Daleen Ochse,

     2      Apologies :  Andrew Hudson, John Webb, John Webber, Yula Bezuidenhout, Johan Veldsman,

        Graeme Altenkirk, Peter Joubert, Lenara Joubert.

        Keith Knorr          

     3      Bush Snippets

        Peter had the ostriches in Ratel which surprised the resident duiker who moved off.

        Genie has seen a vine snake 4 times over the last year which suggests it is resident in the area.

        Jeanette had a python in her fish pond.

        There was a leopard sighting in Ratel with leopard spoor spotted in Kiaat.

4      Forum meeting / report back from last meeting

        A Forum meeting has been arranged for Tuesday 2 February 2016.  Peter and Genie will attend.       

5      Education / bird walks / talks

        We will concentrate on education with walks, talks, leaflets and on-line information. 

        The bird walk is on Saturday 6 January 2016 at 6.00 am.   Meet cnr Volstruis/ Crocodile.

        HR sell leaflets on birds of Marloth Park.

        Conservancy have a bush walk on the 3rd Saturday of a month.  They are also holding a talk by

        Keith Knorr on frogs in March.  Cost will be R100 / member and R120 /non-member.  Laminated

        pamphlets will be on sale.  Details of the talk and booking will be advertised.        

7              Fund Raising – Winter Fair 9 July 2016

The main fund raiser is the winter fair.  At present the date is provisional as we need to check the other fairs.  The Prawn Festival is 23 – 24 June and the date of “In die Bos” is unknown.

Genie will have a bottle table again as it was very successful.  Her target is 400 bottles and will be calling for donations.  Sharon will be holding a fair on 26 March 2016. Once details are known volunteers will be asked to man the stall.

8              Flora – Alien weeds/Veld Management/Lionspruit and MP

We had a Working for Water team for biocontrol on Prickly pear this month.  The HRs walk with the teams checking on progress and helping with any problems which may arise.

9              Game management and game counts

                Ground counts are better than aerial counts as male / female ratio can be noted.

10           Public Liaison – website / facebook

Andrew is running the website and John Webb the Facebook page.  We will be more visible on Facebook so the property owners are aware of our activities.  We will put out informative statements in conjunction with Conservancy.   Concerns re dumping in parkland, cutting of trees and bare earth sweeping which leads to loss of grazing and increasing soil erosion were highlighted. 

11           Lion tracking/reporting

                Joce reported that the lions are fine but had not been calling recently.

12           Snake report

                Snakes removed over the holiday season

                9 Mozambique Spitting Cobras

                7 Spotted Bush snakes

                6 Puff Adders

                3 Pythons (2 were left where they were as they had just eaten)

                3 Black Mambas

                1 Eastern Bark Snake

                1 Purple-glossed snake

                1 juvenile Leguaan which was stuck in a drain.

Snakes are also removed by property owners and security companies and it would be interesting if we could get all the figures.  There was a report of a security company personnel shooting a snake, which we would prefer to avoid.  A suggestion was made to compile a longer list of residents prepared to assist with snake removal.

 13          Lionspruit infrastructure / Jackalberry dam / bird habitat / toilet building  / veld burning

We will approach the municipality again re bush braais in Lionspruit.  This could be a source of income for both the municipality and HR which we could put back into Lionspruit.

The shed and toilet at Lionspruit entrance is being repaired.

The bird hide at Jackalberry Dam is complete but the sponsor will pay for a toilet there.   The surrounds at the dam need work to provide an area for waders.

Jaco reported that the bones from the carcases dumped in Lionspruit have been put into 3 piles and holes will be dug for them to be buried.

14           Law enforcement in Marloth Park by the LEOs

Dan Modega gave a talk on the work of the LEOs and the role HR and property owners can play.  The LEOs are enforcing the by-laws and rules in the Title Deed of your property.

Pets -  A letter dated 1997 was shown when the municipality said the by-law regarding no pets would be strictly enforced.  There are no exemptions or permits.  This was also stated by the municipal manager at the recent meeting about the dump.  A list is being complied of people known to be keeping domestic animals (dogs, cats, birds and other pets). Legal action is in process currently.  The LEOs accompanied by 2 senior municipal officers were refused entry at a house which is known to have a dog.  In future the LEOs will get a search warrant before they visit.

Anyone over 16 can make a citizen’s arrest.  If any of the below problems are observed it was advised to try to keep the person at the site and phone the LEOs or follow the person to their house and report to the LEOs.  If possible take photos.

Litter – a fine of R2 500.00 was recently issued for a stompie thrown on the ground.

Cutting down trees – some trees are protected and carry larger fines.  No tree may be cut down on parkland.

Driving through parkland – take the registration no.

Traffic Violations – can’t stop cars and can only approach them if they have stopped say at the gate.

Dan asked us not to take everything reported on Facebook too seriously. However there are some serious cases in which the LEOs have been involved which have not been publicised.

LEO Standby cell no 076 141 0458

Dan said the LEOs are keen to learn more on alien plants, trees and birds and attend the talks and walks.  If Conservancy, HR, Sector Police and LEOs interact more it would empower each other.

Sector Crime Forum

Sanet explained MP is divided into 8 blocks each with a block captain who drives around in daytime checking in their area.  The next meeting is at 10.00 on Saturday 6th February 2016 at HvR.  There is another raid planned in conjunction with the SAPS.  At the previous one illegals were arrested but were back in the Park the next day as the holding cells are too small.  The buses were also checked during the raid.

They have decals, jackets, hand-held radios but need torches.

They work closely with the LEOs and ask people to report anything suspicious.

Sanet 072 893 3211

15           Finances / assets register

                There were a few sales of brochures and bird lists.

The container was cleaned and the contents noted for the asset register.  There are a few missing items and members were asked if they have anything at home.  Everyone should have a beater.

16           General

Derek reported that the glass on the noticeboards at Marlothii Trading Post must be replaced with safety glass for insurance purposes.  Stuart will do the work and the cost shared between Conservancy and HR.  He also suggested we look at demarcated areas for parking along Seekoi.  There is a lot of work to done along Seekoi including new trees in front of 3222, one way signs, poles to be placed, wash-aways to have rocks in and general maintenance.

Paula reported an area on the river road near Soenie which needs work. She offered to pay for poles if the work can be arranged.

Jeanette asked if the dead animals showed signs of starvation and which species were they.  Jaco reported that the cause was mostly old age with mostly impala but 4 kudu had died.  It is necessary to take out more animals as there is no grazing and more will suffer when winter arrives. 

Errol will be running a work party at Gruispan on Monday 1 February at 6.00 am.  The level of the water is very low so it is a good time to remove rocks, take parthenium out, fix poles etc.

Lizzie expressed an interest in joining HR.

Jaco reported that the buffalo which came through the fence was shot and removed by the State Vet to Hectorspruit for testing.