HONORARY RANGERS GENERAL MEETING
26 March 2015
1 The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting which was opened with a prayer.
HR Committee: John Webber (Chair), Joce Gordon (Vice-chair), Diana van Rensburg (Secretary), Nellie Morgan (Treasurer), Peter Craig-Cooper, Genie Retief.
HR present: Jim Morgan, Hendrik Visser, Lynette de Jong, John Webb, Andre Englebrecht, Linda Benade, Dev Farquharson.
Others present: Jennifer Webber, Jacques de Villiers, JJ van Rensburg, Jeanette Newey, Frik Pienaar, Anri Pienaar, Peter Joubert, Lenara Joubert,
2 Apologies HR: Penelope Mayson, Graeme Altenkirk, Andrew Hudson, Johan Veldsman
3 New Honorary Rangers
The Chair welcomed 3 new members – Dev Farquharson, Frik Pienaar and Anri Pienaar
4 NIG Feedback - Nkomazi Interest Group formally known as LLEAPA
John Webber gave feedback from the NIG meeting held at Mjejane. The main focus is on rhino poaching and request that any unusual activity along the river front be reported to Stuart Long on 084 303 5589. This could be strange vehicles driving in Marloth and spoor along the fence, particularly at sunset when the Rhinos come down to the river to drink.
The KNP rangers did track the poachers who killed the 2 rhinos opposite Henk van Rooyen, but they lost the spoor due to a large herd of buffalos in the area. There is little evidence that poaching is linked to air craft. Poachers are usually driven in and dropped off. KNP have a new helicopter funded by donors but the gearbox is broken.
5 Game Reduction Meeting
Velly Makwakwa held a meeting with the Forum (MPPOA, HR and Conservancy) plus Care4Marloth and Wildlife Trust and the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Board (MTPB), Veterinary Services and Morrisdale Abattoir to discuss the numbers of animals to be reduced. Consensus was reached with all the organisations agreeing on the numbers to be removed. The organisations must make sure the property owners are aware of the seriousness of the problem and only publish correct information on the social media.
The suggested stocking figure of 2010 was used as a base point, and taking into account the game counts and aerial counts in 2012 and 2014, plus the projected births in 2015 then figures for giraffe, kudu, zebra, warthog, wildebeest and impala were agreed on for take-off. An official statement will be issued by Cyril Rapinga. The strategy used to capture the animals was discussed and it is expected that this will initially be a mass capture. The contract will most likely be given to Kobus Raath who will start after the Easter weekend. Since there is no budget it has to be self-sustaining, with as many animals as possible being sold within the red line to cover the costs involved. It is unlikely that any animals will be moved into Lionspruit. Morrisdale can handle 150 impala per week.
The Veterinary Services advised that the animals in Marloth Park are the most diseased in the Underberg and any farmer interested in taking them will have to be informed of it. Most farmers would not be unduly worried by this. Impalas generally do not carry TB but 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. Giraffes can be quarantined and then can be moved.
Questions were raised about the length of time to capture and it was agreed that the Forum must monitor the progress. Nkomazi has the ultimate responsibility to ensure the removal of the animals whilst the MTPB issues the permits.
Ralf Kalwe has reported that he has never seen veld in such bad condition and removal of animals is essential before the veld can start to recover under his plan.
6 Easter weekend Gate Duty / Marlothi Trading Post Fair
Gate 2 will be manned over the busy period when visitors are arriving. It is expected that the LEOs, MPPOA and C4M will also be present. A roster for HRs will be drawn up for Thursday afternoon 2 April and Friday morning 3 April. It was not decided if Gate 1 should also be manned.
There is a fair at Marlothi Trading Post on Saturday 4 April and volunteers were asked to help on the stall. It is also MPPOA AGM.
7 Bush Snippets
Giant Eagle Owl was heard by Peter at night. There would be more owls if there was less poison used. Sightings - a tiny banded mongoose, a slender mongoose, a striped side bellied sand snake, huge packs of banded mongoose around the park.
8 Snares and Mortalities
January 2015 Mortalities 4 impalas,2 warthog,1 duiker,1 blue wildebeest, 1 bushbuck, 1 zebra
Snares 2 warthogs
February 2015 Mortalities 1 impala, 2 warthog, 2 duiker, 6 baboons, 2 kudu, 2 zebra
9 Ranger Activities and Work Parties
Parthenium – there have been a number of Working for Water teams. Photos were shown before and after spraying. Mjejane has a serious problem with Parthenium.
An illegal road was closed off.
The veterinary services road along the fence at the river is in a very poor condition. A sign warning that it is only suitable for 4 x 4s will be erected.
Bench clearing team have cleared around all benches along Seekoei and Crocodile. The tree stump at the parking area was removed leaving a big hole. It was proposed that we plant a large tree eg Natal Mahogany or Weeping Boer Bean. Wire for new cages can be taken from other trees planted previously.
Notices were erected at the bio control site and emergency tape left in place.
A photo of a large sign advertising house building on an empty stand on Swartwitpens was shown. We will request that such advertising be removed.
Photos of all the Parkland between Seekoei road and the river have been taken by Peter so if the bush is cleared it is obvious. The photo shown at the meeting clearly shows that the bush was illegally cleared in front of a lodge. HR, Municipal Rangers and LEOs are going to visit the owner. Jacques from Bosnuus is interested in writing an article on such illegal clearing.
Two Working for Water teams are currently in Lionspruit and Marloth Park for 15 days working on Parthenium, Lantana and Triffid.
Joce will follow up on the requested pit for alien plants at the dump and the sign is ready. They are still waiting for a digger. The dump looks very neat and there are plans to get a new incinerator.
There is a report that the bush is being cut down at the end of the HvR campsite and it will be investigated.
There are plans to assist the municipal rangers with bush encroachment in Lionspruit. John, Joce, and Andre will accompany Jaco next week to identify suitable areas. C4M plans to tackle bush encroachment in Marloth Park and Graham Johnson has been making a machine to assist them.
Andre Scheepers from Working for Fire has a team of 10 workers who can assist in bush encroachment. Costs involved are R250 / team, travel from Nelspruit and accommodation. This could be worthwhile following up.
The new signs are up at Jackalberry Dam Bird Hide and the bird posters are being framed.
Photos of the lions were shown and both are in good condition despite a major tick infestation.
12 HvR Pump
The pump is working slowly giving a trickle of water from the borehole and the surrounding vegetation is growing. Gruispan still has water in it but the dam across the road is low due to a pipe that has been cut.
13 Website /Facebook
Both are working well with a large number of likes on Facebook and many more who view. All activities will be posted. The photo of a dead impala was posted and carried over to the Marloth page. This led to many comments and debates on the issue of dead animals.
14 Bush Walk / Talk
The next walk and talk by Andre Engelbrecht will be on April 17th. Venue to be advised. Bring and braai afterwards. All welcome.
15 Bird Walks
The walk will be held 4 April (1st Saturday of the month) starting at 7.00 at cnr Volstruis / Crocodile. These last between 1-2 hours. All welcome.
16 Rates Insert.
The information on the game reduction was not available last month so this will be the subject for the upcoming month. Cut-off date is 16th. It was suggested that notices be placed at the gates advising of the “Game Reduction Program” to alert everyone in the Park.
17 Snake Removal
Snake removals in February - 2 Mozambique Spitting Cobras
Calls come in from Malalane and Komatipoort but we can only attend in Marloth Park.
18 Fire Fighting, Disaster Management, Peace Officers.
There was a meeting this week to discuss plans and strategies. A training session is to be arranged.
The weather station that was donated by the Cunninghams has been upgraded by Andre Scheepers at a cost of R7 000.00. It is now fully functional and only needs to be plugged in (no computer needed) and will link into the network of Working for Fire. It will most likely be placed near Field Security as the signal should be strong there. Jacques from Bosnuus will take photos
The main expenses were for caps etc. for new HRs.
20 Winter Fair
No action required at this time.
It was reported that large trucks are going through Marloth at night and should be reports to the LEOs.
Speeding is again a problem.
Andre reported a Gemsbok Bean Creeper (tylosema fassoglensa) growing along Oliphant.
All HRs are encouraged to join the WhatsApp group.
Jacques from Bosnuus appeals to everyone to subscribe to the online version of Bosnuus. There is an article on Andre Englebrecht.
Meeting finished 11.00
Honorary Rangers general meeting dates (revised)
December no meeting
April 13, May 11, June 8, July 6, August 10, September 7, October 12, November 9
December no meeting