MOOIPLAAS – Situated roughly in the middle of the Kruger National Park’s huge Mopaneveld, this 103 155 hectare ranger section presents huge challenges to whoever has the task of patrolling it.
Not only is there a 40 km long boundary with Mozambique, but there is also a number of active research programmes happening in this vast section, like the rare antelope breeding programme.
To make it even more challenging, the area includes the third largest camp in the KNP, Mopani Rest Camp, and a fair portion of the main road that links the two Northernmost gates – Punda Maria and Pafuri – with the rest of the 2-million hectare protected area.
And the task of patrolling this huge section lies squarely on the shoulders of Senior Section Ranger Johann “Mabarule” Oelofse and his squad of 9 Field Rangers.
It is this huge area, the seventh largest Ranger Section out of 22 in the entire KNP, which often calls for long range patrols where the rangers have to sleep in tents, far away from the normal support usually found at the well-equipped and established ranger stations.
But a hand of assistance stretched out to help from a very unlikely source.
One of the more active members of the SANParks Website Forum (Blog), Richard Harris from the United Kingdom, recently took a prize-winning photograph and entered this photograph in SABC TV’s popular 50/50 Environmental Programme’s “Veldfokus” competition.
Needless to say, “Veldfokus” awarded Richard with a brand new canvas tent and, as he had no need for a tent of this size, Richard decided to donate the tent to the KNP. It was then decided to give the tent to the winning Ranger Section in the annual KNP Achievement Award ceremony.
This tent thus found its way to Mooiplaas soon after the section was judged “Best Ranger Section 2006” during that awards ceremony.
“I have been able to use this tent a number of times,” says Johann, “and it certainly makes a difference as it is used as a base camp during long distance patrols.”
He adds that the tent has added benefits to the ranger section as it can also be used for temporary accommodation if this is needed.
“Please convey my thanks to the donor for the unselfish gesture in donating this tent,” concludes Johann.