25 February 2016

Peter Craig-Cooper welcomed everyone to the meeting, mentioning the visitors and members of Conservancy.  Graeme opened the meeting with a prayer.

1      Present : Peter Craig-Cooper (CHR), Genie Retief (2ic), Diana van Rensburg (Secretary), Joce Gordon, John Webb, Nellie Morgan, Jim Morgan, John Webber, Graeme Altenkirk, Lynette de Jong, Penelope Mayson,  Annemarie Esterhuizen, Tom Esterhuizen, Frik Pienaar

Derek Bruins-Lich, Jennifer Webber, Rob Farquharson, Errol Potgeiter, JJ van Rensburg,  Jeanette Newey, Geoff Sanders, Thea Sanders, James de Villiers.

2      Apologies :  Andrew Hudson, Mike Bezuidenhout, Yula Bezuidenhout, Johan Veldsman, Peter Joubert, Lenara Joubert, Linda Benade, Sanet Bruins-Lich, Dev Farquharson, Anri Pienaar.

3      Bush Snippets

Birds which have been spotted are Red-headed Finches (male and female) and Black Cuckoo Shrike (male and female).

There has been a moth invasion since the rains and a large number of yellow tinged grasshoppers or locusts have been sighted.

4      Forum meeting / report back from last meeting

Peter and Genie attended the Forum meeting which was successful in that all 4 groups agreed on the reduction of animals to begin immediately. Warthog are regarded as “pest animals” and do not need a permit.  The municipal rangers have started taking out the warthog (70 as of today).  The rangers are unable to attend the meeting due to these commitments. All 4 groups agreed that the impala need to be reduced by 400.  There is paperwork involved in securing permits and it has been suggested that all 4 groups write their own letter in support of the game reduction to show MTPB that everyone is in agreement with the culling and removal.

The water situation should be addressed by MPPOA and will be discussed on Saturday at the MPPOA meeting as the residents want more information.

A Forum meeting has been set for every month but can liaise on any urgent issues in between.  Velly attended the last meeting.              

5              Work Parties

Photos were shown of the toilet at Lionspruit Gate which has been repaired with a new concrete floor and the plumbing was repaired.  Graeme will donate and install a toilet seat.

The game count was conducted successfully and the numbers were considered to be accurate.

A joint work party with Conservancy targeted an area between Seekoei and the river road which had been opened up by cars driving across.  This access was blocked with poles.  This work was sponsored by Paula.  There are more places to be blocked to prevent cars driving straight to the fence.  Some of trees previously planted have died and we need to plant at least 5 more.  They would need to be watered regularly on an ongoing basis.  Parthenium has grown in the area opposite 3222 and this is probably due to water leaks which run down here.  We couldn’t spray as it was raining so we cut and pulled some plants.

We need to arrange more work parties and ask that water leaks are reported.

Graeme has been organising the Prickly Pear and cochineal biocontrol project.  He has been cutting half of the plant, taking this back to the shed whilst leaving cochineal infected cladodes on the remaining half.   This doesn’t kill the plant but keeps it small and under stress.  Small plants will be taken out.  The plants that he takes back to the shed have cochineal infected cladodes placed on them to propagate more infected cladodes.  This is self-sustaining but needs regular attention.  He called for volunteers to assist.  Property owners can take out small plants on their own property but NOT to take out any plant with cochineal on.

The committees of HR and Conservancy held a meeting to brainstorm issues such as boreholes and water reticulation.

6      Education / bird walks / talks

In line with our drive on education acamera club was suggested whereby property owners could get together to show their photos or just to view photos.  They could get advice on photography and be shown different techniques such as audio-visual work and it could generally raise the standard of photography. It would be a social occasion and to bring drinks and snacks.  Date suggested was Thursday 17 March at 6.00 pm at HvR boardroom and will be advertised on Facebook, posters, The Corridor etc.  Images can be on a memory stick but it would be better if they were received first so were already loaded for display.

A talk by Keith Knorr on frogs is on Thursday 24 March.  Cost will be R100 / member and R120 / non-member.   Notices have gone out and space is limited.  Book with Diana.       

        The bird walk is on Saturday 5 March 2016 at 6.00 am.   Meet cnr Volstruis / Crocodile.

This event is posted on Facebook and posters put up at Marlothi Trading Post.  The notice board at The Bush Centre is not in a good position and should be repositioned.

        Conservancy have a bush walk on the 3rd Saturday of a month.

We have to make everyone aware of the problems with alien plants, in particular Prickly Pear which is springing up everywhere.  We must try to get the new brochures to everyone.  Maybe the shops will sell them for us, as at present, property owners can only buy them at fairs.

7              Fund Raising – Sharon’s Fair / Winter Fair 9 July 2016

Sharon’s fair will be held at Marlothi Trading Post on Saturday 26 March 2016.  A list was passed around for volunteers to man the stall from 8.00 – 4.00. 

The winter fair will be on 9th July 2016.  The Prawn Festival is 23 – 24 June and the date of “In die Bos” is 29 June – 2 July so the dates do not clash.  The committee will be John (Webber), Nellie, Jim, Genie, Di, Annemarie, Penelope and Dev.

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

We have been notified of a Working for Water team due this week but have no details or confirmation yet.   They will most likely be utilised spraying in Lionspruit.  HRs will be asked to assist with the teams.

HRs and property owners are asked to make note of alien plants when they are travelling around Marloth and report to Di.  This will assist in planning work parties.

On the recent work party we cut and pulled the Parthenium along Seekoei since we couldn’t spray in the rain.  This is back breaking work and if need be we will employ workers to help us.

It is still under discussion as to the best way to deal with Parthenium.  Spraying is the preferred option but this cannot be done near drainage lines.  Spray should be used at the right time when the plant is just about to seed.  It is important to spray the plant and not carpet spray on the soil as well.  It was debated whether to pull the plant out totally when seeds may be distributed or to cut and put the heads gently in a bag. Seeds can lie in the soil for many years.  Biocontrol agents on Parthenium cannot be used on private property.  The agents often disappear so have not proved very effective.

9              Game management and game counts

                The map, showing blocks 1-6 which were used for the game count, was shown on the screen.

Base figures, over the last few years, less deaths and culling, plus births are taken into account and there are discrepancies which can’t be easily explained.  Keith has offered to look at the figures.  The figures of aerial counts and ground counts are usually fairly close.

All 4 groups have agreed on game reduction.  Jaco, as the municipal representative, stated on 15/02/2016 that the permit for culling of 400 impalas had been sent to MTPB and would be signed that week.  We understood that the other game e.g. wildebeest, zebra and kudu were not included on that permit and plans for them had not been finalised.  Velly will attend the next Forum meeting where we hope for an answer although it is getting too late to complete any action before the school holiday.    The animals are not looking too bad due to the feeding programmes.

10           Public Liaison – Facebook / Website

John Webb reported that Facebook was working well with articles, events and photos with an average of ± 1500 hits per month.  He also reported that Andrew is doing a great job with the website.

Andrew had sent a report on the emailed rates inserts as he is now using a new email manager.

He was supplied with 1381 emailable addresses by Cornelia.

Of these 691 emails were opened.  (49.5% as compared with an industry average of 20.4%).

Of these 421 followed the link to the website where they can read more information.  (31.3 % compared with industry average of 2.3%).   These are encouraging figures.

11           Lion tracking / reporting

Joce reported that the lions are in good condition but since they are still not calling often she has contacted an expert to see if he knows of any reason and she awaits his response.

12           Snake report

John Webb reported that snakes removal is much quieter now with only 1 Puff Adder and 1 Black Mamba relocated.  However, he has received 7 calls for Black Mambas since November.

A python ± 3 metres long was spotted on Swartwitpens after the meeting and John was then called to a house where another python was in a pool outside.  The householder was happy to leave it there.  There seems to be a number of resident pythons in MP.

He will try to get figures for snake removal from Field.

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

The sign at the entrance showing the cost to non-residents could be improved by either a new sign or lettering.

Velly has approved the construction of a toilet at Jackalberry dam and we need to get quotes and work out how water can be pumped.

The rangers only arrange cleaning of the toilets at Frikkies dam but the bird hide at Jackalberry dam needs brushing as there are a large number of spiders.  Tom and Annemarie offered to do so but HRs can take a brush with them if they visit the hide. 

A request from a property owner for a sink at Frikkies dam has been considered.  If the bush braais are approved then we may put in more facilities there.

14           Law enforcement in Marloth Park by the LEOs

Peter is in communication with the LEOs.

The two organisations Sector Crime Forum and Community Police Forum were discussed and they are trying to work together with the different security companies and the police.

15           Finances / Asset Register

There were expenses for paper for the rates inserts, some expense claims and payment of R900.00 for fuel for the game count vehicles.  The cost of the repairs to the toilet for the Municipality amounted to R1 600.00 for labour and materials. 

Tom and Annemarie have sold more bird lists.  Stock needs to be checked and we must look at revising some of the information before printing.   Genie to organise.

Stocks of tree tags are also low and more are needed.  Frik will check his stock.

The contents of the container was noted and the asset register just needs to be finalised.

It has been agreed to purchase a gazebo to be used for fairs.  A possible one costing R4300.00 has been quoted but it would be better to check the quality before purchasing.   Derrick knew of some specials and Errol suggested Tentco in Jet Park.

16           General

                Derrick reported 9 Saddle-billed Storks on the river.

                Stuart has been putting cochineal on PP in Volstruis.

Errol asked about 2 poles which probably had a sign at one time at 2 trees which are not used and can be taken down.

More work is needed on areas along Seekoei to block access to the parkland and demarcate parking areas. 

Honorary Rangers General Meeting dates                                                            Committee Meetings                     Bird walks

                March                                   31                                                                14                                                          5

                April                                      28                                                               11                                                           2

                May                                      26                                                                16                                                           7

                June                                     30                                                                13                                                           4

                July                                       28                                                               11                                                            2

                August                                  25                                                                15                                                           6

                September                           29                                                                 12                                                           3

                October                                27                                                                 10                                                           1

                November                            24                                                                  14                                                          5

                December                                                                                                                                                                3