HONORARY RANGERS GENERAL MEETING 26 February 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.
HR present : Penelope Mayson, Jim Morgan, Hendrik Visser, Lynette de Jong, Andre Englebrecht, Johan Veldsman, Linda Benade
Others present: Jennifer Webber, Jacques de Villiers, JJ van Rensburg, Jeanette Newey, Dev Farquharson, Frik Pienaar, Anrie Pienaar, Peter Joubert
2 Apologies HR: Graeme Altenkirk, Genie Retief, John Webb, Andrew Hudson
3 LLEAPA (Lowveld Lebombo Environmental Asset protection Alliance) Feedback.
John Webber gave feedback from the LLEAPA meeting which he and Stuart Long attended. LLEAPA meetings are held monthly and involve the section rangers from KNP to discuss issues and strategies. This was the first time it was held in Marloth Park. The next meeting will be held at Mjejane. They reported that in the first 6 weeks of 2015 rhino poaching was reduced by 23% against the figures for the same period in 2014.
The western and easternboundaries of the KNP are of most concern and the southern boundary is regarded as a low frequency area. There are two hotspots; one opposite Whisky Farm and the other between Marloth Park and Mjejane, probably near the Marula squatter camp. Don English, in charge of the section rangers, will be speaking with the farmers in the area with a view to closing the squatter camp.
To combat poaching the rangers in KNP are using sniffer dogs extensively and also at the entrance gates. Questions were asked about the use of advanced technology in the fight on poaching and KNP is investigating. Drones are illegal and anyone using them can be fined heavily.
4 Ralf Kalwe
Ralf Kalwe has been commissioned and his assistants will mark off the evaluation sites on 23 – 26 March to start the study of the vegetation in that area. These areas will probably be marked by emergency tape. MPPOA has paid the R54 00.00. Honorary Rangers and Conservancy have each donated R3 000.00, with the balance being raised from appeals.
The figures for culling were questioned. These are based on the last year’s game count, expected births and the state of the veld. It is expected that at least 400 impalas will have to be culled. Velly should be arranging the culling which includes the availability of the abattoir and consultation with Veterinary Services and Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Board (MTPB). It is not known if Ralf Kalwe will be consulted on the figures.
Most people have seen the referendum and made a return. Some of the questions could have been phrased differently particularly the question of the development of Lionspruit which should not be developed as HvR but could be used for bush braais.
The Municipality question if MPPOA represents Marloth Park but the Forum agreed that MPPOA should run with the referendum. Jacques stated that The Bosnuus has published the referendum. He asks that the online version is supported as he writes up the activities of the organisations.
6 Bush Snippets
Guinea fowl are back in flocks with not as many chicks as expected.
A leopard has been spotted eating an impala in Steenbok St.
There are 2 baby ostriches which are now quite big on Volstruis.
A male ostrich is sitting on eggs at erf 3222.
7 Snares and Mortalities in January 2015
No figures were available. The Rangers shot baboons that were causing trouble at HvR chalets.
8 Ranger Activities and Work Parties
The bird hide at Jackalberry Dam is complete with 2 picnic tables inside and the papyrus grass in front trimmed. Photos are on Facebook. Bird posters have been ordered and signs will be put up. Snake posters are available and Nellie will buy one.
Photos were shown of anunusual snake– Eastern African Shovel-Snout. It has 2 lines of silver spots running along its back and is harmless.
An illegal road to the dam on Seekoei was closed – photo was shown. Another illegal road near Gate 1 needs to be closed off.
Areas around benches need clearing and Oubaas has already cleared the ones along Crocodile.
Joce reported that the hole dug for alien plants at the dump had been used for normal rubbish so has requested another hole only for alien plants. They can then be burnt. It could be advisable to not transport too much Parthenium as the seeds are being spread. If large volumes are involved it may be better to put the plants in a heap, spray and then burn on site. Smaller amounts should still be taken to the dump.
Working for Water teams are busy in Lionspruit and Marloth Park. There have been reports of teams not working but they will be monitored. Their working times vary as the teams have to be accompanied by a Ranger in Lionspruit and their shift finishes at 2.00. The teams in Marloth Park usually work 7.00 – 4.00 with half an hour for tea and an hour for lunch. They can choose not to take these and finish earlier.
The area around Gruispan was sprayed by volunteers from HR and Conservancy.
A biocontrol team of Lorraine Strathie, Sakkie, Frank and Jeremy from ARC and Daleen Strydom from DEA visited on 25 February. Colleen Trumpleton who works on sugarcane was also involved. 3 different biocontrol agents were released in Marloth Park; Listronotis (stem borer), Zygogramma (leaf eating beetle) and Smicronyx (seed eating weevil). The areas are marked by emergency tape. There have been more biocontrol agents released in Lionspruit. Only Summer Rust was found but there was no sign of Listonotis or Zygogramma.
A visitor asked for pictures of Parthenium. Leaflets of alien plants in the Cape were shown as an example of illustration of alien plants for education purposes. Joce and Genie are working on new brochures.
There are plans to assist the municipal rangers with bush encroachment measures. A photo of a new clearing machine was shown. This was purchased for R11 000.0 and can cut through sickle bush trees up to say 6 inches thick, after which a chain saw can cut. The use of this machine will have to monitored and correct maintenance procedures put in place.
There were reports of shots in Lionspruit but it was from the farm.
There was no feedback from Velly on bushbraais in Lionspruit.
11 HvR Pump
The small pump purchased by Entricon can only manage a trickle of water from the borehole. A pump in the river would be better but would need constant attention and maintenance.
12 Website /Facebook
Both working well.
13 Bush Walk / Talk
The next walk and talk by Andre Engelbrecht will be on March 13th. Meet at HVR at 7.00. This will be a walk along the river with general observations. Bring and braai afterwards.
14 Bird Walks
The walk will be held 7 March (1st Saturday of the month) starting at 6.00 at cnr Volstruis / Crocodile.
15 Rates Insert.
This month’s insert was on recruitment for Honorary Rangers. According to the “Code of Conduct” only home owners can apply but this can be amended by special resolution.
16 Snake Removal
3 snake removals in January; 1 Mozambique Spitting Cobra, 1 Black Mamba and 1 Olive Grass Snake. Field also remove snakes but do not keep records. Sometimes the response personnel may kill the snakes rather than removing them.
17 Fire Fighting, Disaster Management, Peace Officers.
There were 2 meetings for the fire prevention committee in February. A fitting for the hydrants has finally been found in a municipal store. This will be tested and then the plan is to have one on each of the 5 bakkie sakkies. It was suggested that the fitting could also be used to release airlocks after water disruptions.
Peter suggested that he and Graeme Johnston inspect the dams to see if they can be lined to prevent leaks. Koos Pienaar is at the dams frequently so would know if this was feasible.
The municipality has put out a tender for the replacement of the roof which blew off the reservoir. This will cost in the region of R300 000.00.
18 Speed Humps, Street Signs, Signboards
Kudu signs have been erected on Olifants by MPPOA.
The donor has paid the final instalment for the bird hide.
20 Winter Fair
Penelope has advised past stall holders of the date so no further action required at this time.
Questions were asked about unsuitable and possibly offensive signs. The LEOs will investigate.
4 radios donated to the HRs are not used. It was suggested that we give them to the LEOs.
Following a meeting in Hectorspruit it was stated that there will be no prospecting north of the N4.
A visitor queried smoking at lookout points. However if it is in open air it is not illegal.
Derrick cleared the rubbish bins at the Kranz which were overflowing.
Meeting finished 11.00
Honorary Rangers general meeting dates
December no meeting
March 9, April 13, May 16, June 8, July 6, August 10, September 7, October 12, November 9
December no meeti