Chief Honorary Rangers Report 2017.

Firstly I would like to thank all the Honorary Rangers for their dedicated work in our various undertakings and involvement throughout the year. Special thanks to the committee for their support, hard work and dedication.

John Webb resigned from the committee for personal reasons and Mel Fennell was co- opted on to the committee. Juan de Beer joined us in March and Carol Fennell in September.

The various organisations (apart from MPRA) are working well together. Wildlife Fund withdrew from the Forum however areas of common interest are being addressed together.

Our Winter Fair, on 8 July was our largest combined undertaking during the year where everyone put their 100% into the successful running of the event, resulting in record attendance and funds raised. We fortunately obtained our liquor licence and this contributed to the success of the event. The outsourcing of the food went well and we will continue this for the next fair.

2017 was a positive and productive year for the Honorary Rangers, in spite of the disruption caused by the Interdict and prevention of the boma’s in Lionspruit. Game Management will be a challenge for 2018.

The foundation and direction built in 2017 should provide a basis for a very interesting and exciting year for 2018, areas worth highlighting:

  • Protected Area. A workshop and meetings were attended with SANParks and their surrounding Nature Reserves to develop the Kruger Park Management plan for the next 10 years. One key strategy for SANParks is that all adjacent reserves are registered as a Protected Area in the next 5 years. We are also fortunate to be included in the development of Conservation Councils which will be part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP). The exposure and contacts developed in 2017 stand us in good stead to move forward with this key development for Marloth Park.
  •  Constitution. Although this has not been completed as expected, the basics and groundwork have been done and we can expect to circulate a draft to Honorary Rangers by March. Important is that we retain the close ties to the Municipality whilst building our own identity.
  • Communication. Our website has been improved and our Facebook page has generated considerable interest and substantially increased numbers following this. Special thanks to Sandra Dill-Franzen for Facebook as well as the notice/display boards and Andrew Hudson for our website. This media is critical to our communication and awareness efforts. Our monthly rates inserts have been taken over by Mel and Carol Fennell and very interesting articles have been published which has generated interest and positive feedback.
    Alien Plants. It was encouraging to see the various groups working together: DEA, Municipality, WfW, EPWP, Conservancy and WTF. Number of volunteers varied between 7 and 17 per month, average 9 per month. It would be nice to have more hands willing to work. Total stands visited: 287, total man hours worked: 936. Hours counted only for Monday and Tuesday. Awareness regarding alien invasive plants is on the increase, resulting in more property owners asking for checks. Top 4 polluters are parthenium, prickly pear, queen of the night and madagascar periwinkle. The three visits by the DEA was a major achievement and although they take time to respond due to excessive case load, they are key to addressing the issue of
    alien plants introduced by property owners.
  •  Working for Water. Their activities increased substantially in 2017 and contributed to the control of alien invasive species in Marloth and Lionspruit. Thanks to Diana for her hard work in arranging this. We will be looking at hiring one of their teams to assist us with bush rehabilitation.
  • Awareness. The above communication efforts and alien plant activities have created a greater positive awareness of Honorary Rangers and generated a lot of interest. Emphasis at the fairs has been placed on reaching out, informing and educating and this has proved very successful.
  • Game counts. We have implemented fortnightly game counts and these are providing valuable information which will be used in game management and planning. This has been very successful and is generating interesting statistics. We will keep this up for 2018 and will provide the information to Ralf Kalwa to help with the veld assessment.
  • Tourism. A proposal for game drives in Lionspruit was submitted to the municipality. This and the initiative by MPPOA resulted in a visit by 16 delegates representing National Tourist Department, Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Authority and Nkomazi Local Tourism Organisation to Lionspruit, hosted by ourselves and MPPOA. This gives us the opportunity to contribute to the improvement of Lionspruit, replacing the lions as well as to maintaining it’s pristine nature.
  • Recruitment. There was a focus on recruitment in 2017. Although this did not result in many new members yet, the contacts developed as well as the
    increased awareness and positive image should result in a number of new members for 2018.

Activities undertaken during the year most of which are on-going include the following:

  • Lion tracking
  • Bench repairs
  • Supervision of WfW teams
  • Winter Fair and Marlothi Fairs
  • Information on activities and happenings in MP reported on our Facebook page and web site.
  • Alien plant and tree of the month published on our Facebook page and web site
  • Marketing grass seeds and magnets/stickers through the shops in MP Repairing the boom at gate 2 on a regular basis.
  • Repairing the receiver for the Rangers so that they could continue monitoring the Rhino whereabouts.

Many members worked tirelessly in many of the above activities and a big thank you to all concerned.

Evan Powell

Chief Honorary Ranger