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HONORARY RANGERS GENERAL MEETING

27 July 2017

Evan welcomed everyone and Graeme opened the meeting with a prayer.

1      Present :  Evan Powell (CHR), Graeme Altenkirk, Diana van Rensburg,Nellie Morgan, Peter Craig-Cooper, Jim Morgan,Uschi Powell, Joce Gordon, Rob Farquharson, Sandra Dill-Franzen, Paul Dill-Franzen, Oubaas Visser, Genie Retief, Lynette de Jong, Juan de Beer, Lizzy Modiga, Mel Fennel, Carol Fennel, Norman Tiley, Merion Tiley, Stuart Long,  Mark Fox, Gail Fox.

2      Apologies :  Andrew Hudson, Linda Benade, Penelope Mayson, John Webb,Johan Veldsman.

3      Feedback SAGIC course

        Evan, Uschi and Terence attended a SAGIC course and Evan gave feedback on why it is important to control alien plants. It is not only to preserve biodiversity and maintain a buffer zone but it also the law.  

This law was promulgated in 2004 and enforced in 2014 with the list of alien plants published in 2016.  This year alone 114 directives have been issued against property owners bordering national parks in Cape Town and against 4 Municipalities. Removal of alien plants also plays a major role in fire prevention.  The alien vegetation allows hotter, higher fires such as at Knysna and Hout Bay where the Pine and Wattle trees were the problems.  In Marloth Park it is the Palm trees which will be main one enabling fires going upwards and also the problem of dumping cut Palm trees in the veld providing fuel for spreading the flames. 

We can raise awareness of the very real threat of fire on Facebook and through talks.  Visual material will be available soon to highlight these problems.       

The course was held at Rietvlei Nature Reserve which is overrun with Pompom Weed and Black Wattle.   This could have been controlled 5 years ago but may now be too late.   It is important that we control the aliens in Marloth Park before they take over and are impossible to eradicate.  If alien plants are not removed in Marloth Park then there will be no indigenous vegetation or grass and therefore no animals, no tourism and no activity.

        Working for Water is the only government initiative still on-going.   As the name suggests the teams remove the alien plants and thereby save the water for indigenous plants.  There were Working for Water personnel from all over the country attending the SAGIC course.

        A question was asked about the lack of skips at the new dump site for alien plants.  If we do not make provision for this then plants will be dumped in the veld or on parkland.  It must be a priority for the Forum to deal with this.  Another problem, which was not addressed at the new dump site was provision for the disposal of small appliances.

        Many of the issues could be solved with correct law enforcement and obeying the byelaws which are in place.

        Uschi said they were now qualified herbicide applicators and can train others.    The qualification lasts for 3 years.        

In Australia and India there are areas which have been so severely affected by Parthenium that they have been cordoned off as unusable.  Swaziland is in this position as they have no funds to deal with Parthenium.  There is an area in KZN which is unusable and referred to as “ground zero”.  The DEA are returning in August and will assist with educational material.   The best approach to Parthenium is by manual control and biocontrol.  Herbicides need to be used with care taking into account dosage instructions, half life in the soil and target plants.  South Africa is a world leader in biocontrol but it is long slow process and not a quick solution.

4      Bush Snippets                      

Frogs are active and vocal during the day and quiet at night.  This may be caused by the temperatures at present.

The Ostriches, which were relocated to Lionspruit, are often seen patrolling along the fence as if they wish to return into Marloth Park.  There is still an aggressive Ostrich on Volstruis which has attacked walkers

A hyaena was spotted in Marloth Park by someone driving at 3.00 am.  Securicon personnel have also seen lion at night in Marloth Park.

The large flocks of Queleas and Wattled Starlings we are seeing, have not been seen here for over 20 years.  These large flocks may be in response to the recent dry seasons.

5      Forum Meeting

        There was no meeting in July.

         Evan is meeting with Ralf Kalwa to discuss buffer zones, protected area, game counts.  There is a planned meeting with Dr Marissa Coetzee from SANPARKS, MTPA, NKLM and the Forum to discuss registering protected areas    

         Genie asked if the Ralf Kalwa plan has finally been accepted by the Municipality and Evan said that it has not been signed but is being partially implemented.  Mel asked if all the organisations had a unified approach to the problems but there are still differences although there is some common ground.

6      Activities

·         Bird Walk

Saturday 5 August, meet cnr Crocodile / Volstruis at 7.00 am.

September bird walk will start at 6.30 am.

Genie is planning a talk on raptors.

·        Tree Tagging

Rob is not moving to Natal so will continue with the tree tags.  He will order new tags as some are missing.

·        Lion Tracking

Joce had reported previously that Dezi was limping but recovered quickly.  Many wild animals recover very quickly without human intervention.  Photos were shown.

·         Snake report

No report.

The two snake talks were very well received and thanks to Jabula for hosting the event.

In future we may have look at prepayment as people booked but didn’t turn up.

·         Alien Plant Removal Work Parties

Uschi reported that July had been a quieter than usual month with 4 species of alien plants  removed with  49 man hours worked with 7 volunteers and 3 municipal workers.    46 home owners were contacted with 11 complying and removing the alien plants, 23 are ongoing and 12 have defaulted.

The alien plant of the month is the Bottle Plant, the seeds of which are poisonous.

The DEA attended the Winter Fair and are returning in August to visit homes and issue directives.  They regard Marloth Park as important as we border the KNP.

There is now a new field of research – Restoration Ecology.  When alien plants are removed than steps must be taken to plant suitable vegetation otherwise the alien plants will take over again in the disturbed land.  Parthenium is known as a “disturbance specialist”.

·         Working for Water

Diana was pleased that Working for Water personnel had attended the recent course on alien plants and maybe this was why she had received no response to our request for teams!  However they had talked with Uschi and were well aware of Diana’s motivations for Marloth Park.  Diana will continue to communicate with them.

·         Maintenance

Graeme reported that he had fixed the signs on the gates but they continue to fall / get knocked off. 

He has received 2 requests to replace the old wooden benches with plastic and will quote accordingly.

·         Bush Encroachment

Dave Balaam’s team is still busy in the Duiker area and has realised that progress is very slow. 

7              Public Liaison – Facebook / Website

No reports.

Fire prevention is the main topic which must be highlighted now.

The “Fire Team” has met and the Park has been divided into sectors, each with a Fire Captain.  Field is the centre of communication.  The municipality has not paid its fees to LEFPA for the last 3 years so in the case of a fire we would not have the use of their services.

 Graeme and Rob had recently attended a fire, but despite the fire tender being regularly checked and tested, it didn’t work.  They couldn’t find the reason for this malfunction and it has since worked perfectly.  It highlighted the fact we need more equipment e.g. hoses as they get burnt.  The latest fire was caused by negligence and the owners of the house should bear the responsibility of the costs incurred. 

An interesting concept was discussed on the SAGIC course i.e. it is now said that “The Polluter Pays” which applies to fires, rubbish and alien plants.   

8              Fund Raising

                Daisy’s Den is selling stickers.

9              Winter Fair 2017

The fair was very successful and enjoyable.  There is committee meeting afterwards for feedback.

10           Finances / Asset Register

Nellie reported on the funds from the fair.

Paul has checked the container and will contact anyone who may be holding items at home so they can be listed on the asset register.

11           General

Sandra asked for more information so she can regularly update the notice boards.  Suggestions were for photos of fire risks, lions and bats.

Mel asked if we had initiatives to recruit new members and Evan has had enquiries.  Two guests were present as they were interested in joining.

A guest reported that someone had dumped household rubbish in a seep line close to their house.  She had phoned the Rangers and she was impressed that they cleared it up the same day.

There was no further business so the meeting finished at 9.45.

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Our vision

hrOur vision is to support and assist the Nkomazi Municipality Conservation Department within Marloth Park with their management strategies and objectives while being an effective volunteer group. 
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