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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Thu May 27, 2010 4:36 pm 
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Irene Grobler Part 1.

Irene van Tubergh was born at Alkmaar where she also grew up, she completed her schooling at Nelspruit and then moved to Messina during 1960 where she was employed on the Rhodesian side at Beitbridge, until 1967, when she got married and settled in SKUKUZA as Mrs. Grobler. She says it was a real eye opener as she never imagined that he would ever live in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

The van Tubergh family regularly visited the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK. Their family from the Cape also regularly joined them during the winter months, travelling up by train.

Their first accommodation was a corrugated iron house on the bank of the Nwaswitshaka was built in the garden of the first Warden – James Stevenson Hamilton, all left of the garden was twenty one orange trees – the street name also being Lemoenboom – there were no outbuildings and just two tracks lead from the street to the front door. The house had concrete floors and Irene mentioned that she decided to shine them using black floor polish, after much elbow grease and worn knees they were to her satisfaction. She said that she could only afford buying a Columbus floor polisher after four years, now saving her knees and her back.

Here she started a garden in her leisure time.

New prefab accommodation was built at the rate of four units per year.

Work was quite scarce and after two years she one morning had a visit from Miemie van Achtenberg, who asked whether she was still looking for a job, the reply was yes and Irene was asked whether she could type, again she replied in the affirmative and she was then told that she could start the following morning in the Admin and Tourism Offices, working for Mr. Herman v/d Veen, on a temporary basis.

Irene pitched up for work all smartly dressed up at 08:00 and was promptly told that they start at 07:00 and that being late on her first day was not quite good for her career.

Miemie showed Irene around a little bit and then at 12:30 said good-bye, it was Friday and she and her husband Jan the Workshop Foreman were going on leave to Mozambique.

Irene said that watched to convoy of staff leave for San Marthino with their boats and trailers, via Lower Sabie, Crocodile Bridge and Komatipoort. She was not quite sure whether she would make the grade.

Miemie later told Irene that she could only go on leave after she found a suitable replacement.

Here by trial and error learnt her job starting at a salary of R80.00 per month, before deductions and paid in cash.

In the early years Herman v/d Veen was in charge of Admin and Tourism for KRUGER, ADDO, MOUNTAIN ZEBRA and the KALAHARI GEMSBOK PARK.

She told that now during the second stage of the development of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK. Many artisans were employed on a two year temporary contract which after the contract period may be converted into permanent employment; her husband who was a plumber was earning R176.00 per month before deductions.

It was December and many of the staff members were away on leave, resulting in the few left behind doing all, for the period December and much of January.

Upon returning from leave Miemie resigned from her job, leaving at the end of January.

Her eldest daughter Lizelle was born in 1970, six weeks maternity leave was granted, before the six weeks were over Mr. v/d Veen came to pay her a visit and requested her to return to work as there was much to be done. So Lizelle spent most of her babyhood in the offices.

After four years in Lemoenboom Street they moved into the staff village at Skukuza. Now they had a garage and a servant’s room. Additional accommodation was now being erected at the rate of seven prefab units per annum.

Here in the personnel village the hierarchy was very evident; the HOD’s were housed on the river bank and as your seniority reduced you were accommodated further away.

The new house was on a corner and had no fences on the street sides; they regularly had visits from most kind of animals, big and small, with and without sharp teeth.

Electricity was supplied from a power generator which was switched off at 22:00, Mr. Herbst the electrician was in charge of this. Mr. Zietsman the electrical foreman showed the films in the hall on Saturday evenings, when the film was a bit longer than normal the power would be cut at the end of the show.

Candles and paraffin lamps were always on standby for just in case something went wrong with the power supply.


All were very pleased when ESKOM power became available.

Television was introduced to the KRUGER staff during 1977, after completion of the tower at Kaapschehoop, even then the reception was not too hot, the only snow in the Lowveld was on the TV screens.

Irene mentioned that it took some time getting accepted as for many months she was hardly greeted when arriving at work, everyone just went on doing their job.

She worked in the Admin offices, at Reception, in the Shop, in the Stores, in the Linen room. Mr. v/d Veen would receive all the orders for the shops and restaurants and after checking the stocks, he would place the orders.

Irene tells that one day on returning to work from lunch she and Mrs. Bekker of the linen room were driving along a little down hill when out jumped a huge uniformed red haired man stopping them – Cas v/d Walt the traffic cop, they had exceeded the speed limit, she apologised but all fell on deaf ears. She received her fine ticket and off she went. A few weeks afterwards she received a phone call from the Secretary of Mr. Brynard – the Park Warden he requested her to come and see him.

Upon arrival he asked whether she was new in the Park, she replied not very new but relatively new, he questioned her about the Park speed limits as he was in possession of a copy of a speeding ticket that had been issued to her, Irene explained and also expressed her sorrow about the incident – she said that Mr. Brynard must have felt sorry for her and she was let off with a warning.

Upon delivery at the stores, the goods would be checked and the receipts recorded on the Mercator 423 machine; by the four ladies there employed, items would be priced and then either transferred to the main store or booked out for delivery to its destination. Mark up was 60%.

The exception to the 60% mark-up was items which Lucky brought from Malawi. He would arrive at the SKUKUZA Stores with his dilapidated Peugeot bakkie loaded to the limit with carved wooden and ivory curios, he would offload and the Herman v/d Veen would select the items to his liking agree on the price and pay him in cash and then mark-up the good by 100%.

Irene mentioned that once a peculiar carving of a man sitting down, it had short arms and legs with quite a large body and head with a strange facial expression, it stood on the shelf for many years, no one seemed interested in this strange object. Eventually Mr. Suter, the shop manager decided that a little party would be held for the Shop Staff should that item be sold, everyone tried their best but no one seemed interested in that odd statue, then one day an American tourist came in, gave it a look, was fascinated and purchased the item. The staff enjoyed their little party.

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


Last edited by gmlsmit on Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:58 am 
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Irene Grobler Part 2.

The Stores were divided into three sections one for groceries, one for curios and one for liquor.

Items ordered were prepacked onto pallets and then on Thursdays loaded onto the “Dingler” for delivery. Items for Lower Sabie and Pretoriuskop and Satara were delivered to their stores, while everything else was delivered in bulk to the store at Letaba from where it would be collected.

After two years Irene became pregnant again and it was then that her boss asked her whether she had ever heard of birth-control . . . Second daughter Ilse was not a good office baby and was soon looked after by one of the ladies of the SKUKUZA staff village.

It was soon realised that a Crèche was required, Mrs. Babs Rosenblatt, wife of the Information Officer agreed to run the Crèche in the SKUZA small Club house, which was soon filled with happy healthy SKUKUZA children.

The school going children attended the Government SKUKUZA Primary School, accommodating Grade 1+2, Std1+2, 3+4, in the same classes only Std 5 was on its own. Irene mentioned that often there was a few as 4 or 5 children in a grade or standard. High schooling was either done at White River or at Nelspruit, children attending the latter living in the hostel.

The normal school concerts were held in the school hall, all mothers assisted in the preparations, sewing machines operated until late in the evenings making all the required costumes. Décor was made up by the fathers and all enjoyed the achievements of the younger generation.

Irene mentioned that one of the perks for working in the shop was meals could be had free of charge at the SKUKUZA Restaurant, otherwise an allowance of R30.00 was added to the monthly salary.

Once she was transferred away from the shop elsewhere, she was now losing the R30.00 allowance, she went to see Teddy Nixon – Mr. v/d Veen’s deputy to complain about the transfer, and here she was told take it or leave . . . . She decided to take it as the only other work was at the Volkskas Bank, the hand operated telephone exchange at the little Post Office, the SA Police or the Veterinary Dept and she knew that there were no vacancies.

The linen room and wash house was staffed by two white ladies and some black men. It was equipped with huge roller type ironing machines and huge washing machines. Two men were employed permanently mending the linen using pedal operated Singer sewing machines. The linen room and wash house provided for the whole of the Park. Clean linen was packed in huge canvass bags and then transported to where required.

Curtains were made at the linen room; the material was purchased from Pan Print at White River, the animal prints were reserved for the KRUGER PARK while the protea prints were for the Cape Parks.

The northern camps closed on 10 October, the shops were emptied and all goods were transferred to the store at SKUKUZA. All accommodation was emptied. Beds and furniture were stacked in the store rooms and all linen and bedcovers and curtains shipped to SKUKUZA for cleaning and storage.

All accommodation and other buildings were now thoroughly cleaned and all required maintenance work was done during the closed period.

Before re-opening date all again was shipped back to where required where clean rack and shelves were stacked and freshly cleaned and maintained accommodation was curtained and equipped; awaiting 1 April for Letaba and 1 May for Shingwedzi and Punda Maria

Technical Department did all of the work. Members were sent out and the rule for home visits was employees working close by and south of the Sabie River could return home at the end of the shift. In between the Sabie and the Olifants Rivers every week end. In between the Olifants and the Letaba Rivers every second week end and north of the Letaba River once a month for a week end.

The house for Mike English the first Game Ranger at Pafuri was completed in just on three months.

She also told that one Sunday afternoon, while she was sitting reading the news paper, she heard a vehicle; it was the AA Landrover leaving the staff village.

The normal dry Nwaswitshaka River was in flood after heavy rains in the west towards Pretoriuskop. For some unknown reason the man from the AA decided to drive up the Kruger Gate road, the Nwaswitshaka had flooded the bridge across the river. The Landrover drove onto the bridge and about halfway across was washed of the bridge into the raging torrent. The vehicle capsized and three hours later after the water had subsided was found in a deep hole in the river bed –the driver dead.

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 12:07 pm 
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Irene Grobler Part 3.

Irene said she always wished to become the librarian of the Stevenson Hamilton Memorial Library at SKUKUZA; she first applied for the position in 1976 and was not successful. After a few other attempts she was appointed in the position during 1981, here she indexed and packed and reorganised this wonderful wealth of Historical and Scientific KRUGER and Wildlife manuscripts and books. Here she met many people who really cared for the Park and its Fauna and Flora and here she assisted many a potential Zoologist or Botanist.

Functions were regularly held in the original small club hall, church services were also held there by the minister coming from either Hazyview or White River, Irene mentioned that both Lizelle and Ilse were christened in the little hall.

Later on Mrs. Yvonne Knobel wife of the Director of the National parks Board started a fund raising campaign, and soon the SKUKUZA Church had regular services held on Sundays.

Weddings were also held there, Irene recalls that one Saturday afternoon there was a wedding scheduled, unfortunately there was a power cut. She was befriended with the organist and the two sat chatting upstairs, waiting for the power to come on, the bride seemed quite late, on investigation; Irene discovered that the sermon was taking place outside the building – it was too dark inside the building so the little group quietly decided to move outside, the two ladies not noticing anything.

The Total Oil Company donated funds to the National Parks Board for the construction of the Olifants Rest Camp during 1967. They also supplied all fuel for sale and use in the KRUGER PARK.

The annual Christmas tree function was also sponsored by the Total Oil Company; this was always a great and grand occasion.

Sporting activities included: Rugby, Cricket, Golf, Tennis, Horse riding and Soccer being a member of the KRUGER PARK Sports Club was compulsory for all staff members, earlier the monthly membership fee was R1.00 and later increased to R5.00 per month and then to R10.00, which was deducted from one’s salary.

It was soon realised that the original club house was too small and they decided to build a larger one, this was done as funds were available for material, labour was free of charge – by the members in their spare time.

The Equestrian club was formed by Willem Gertenbach and Ben de Klerk after much diplomatic negotiating with the Park Warden Dr. Tol Pienaar. Of the conditions were that the horses were to be well kept and not to become a nuisance and also were not to leave their allocated area.

Holding shelters were converted into stables and a paddock was constructed. Here the horses could exercise and the riders, mainly children could get their riding lessons. In the beginning they were coached locally but as they became more experienced they were coached by more skilled horsemen. Some even came from the South African Sports Foundation started by Dr. Anton Rupert.

As time went by competitive riding started and they attended shows as far as Mataffin, Blyde River, Nelspruit, White River and Sabie, transport was required. The “Dingler” was purchased at the annual auction for scrapped equipment and was converted by some eager fathers into a horse box, taking six horses.

One day of the horses escaped from their paddock and headed for Lower Sabie, fortunately Willem and Ben found them before falling prey to some predator; Irene says she does not quite know how they explained themselves out of the predicament with the Warden.

They also hosted many conferences at SKUKUZA; amongst others she mentioned the International Conference for Plastic Surgeons and the International Conference for Urologists.

Functions were regularly held and these were always grand occasions, the ladies used this to dress up; the same outfit was not often worn more than once. Much effort was made by those involved in the preparation and catering for the occasion.

Dance music was provided by a band of which Wayne Lotter was a member. Rudy Sippel who was in charge of building maintenance organised an Oompah Band on other and festivities would last until late.

One of the real grand functions was held after the Rangers and Conservation Department Annual Meeting.

The annual Golf day at SKUKUZA was always a grand occasion. President de Klerk often set of the SKUKUZA half marathon and then joined in at the Golf day. She remembers him as being a very easy going person who used to drive his own car and who always made a point of having a chat with most people present.

Another person whom she remembers as making a great on her was the distinguished yet humble Dr. Anton Rupert a man who loved his country and its people and all the children of Great Mother Nature.

The old Stevenson Hamilton residence was the first HQ of the KRUGER PARK Commando, after it burned down the Ramkamp became the HQ. it was compulsory for all white men to become members.

It was decided that lady volunteer could become members of the KRUGER PARK COMMANDO during 1977.

The ladies were transported to Voortrekker hoogte by train; here they were accommodated in hangars for one cold week in the month of July.

Here they drilled and received some basic military training and also enjoyed the luxury of army food and cold showers, no wonder of them just did a quick dry clean at the wash basins.

They were also trained in radio procedure, first aid casevac personnel functions, and whatever deemed fit for female soldiers.

Teased hairdos were flattened by their bush hats and some lost some excess kilos – no gain without pain.

Irene tells about an incident when the Commando members were doing a roadblock exercise at the turnoff to the staff village off the Paul Kruger Gate Road. Willem Gertenbach was in charge.

While busy with their activities, they heard a shouting and a carrying on, on investigating they found saw a lady with a golf club in hand shouting and waving, getting closer they found some Cape Wild dogs close by, they had been kept in the holding pens at the Conservation Department Offices and escaped, they were quite used to humans and therefore relatively tame, of course the lady was not aware of this and experienced that she may be devoured within the next few moments.

The dogs were shooed of, and then down from a tree climbs a man – her husband.

After an inspection at the SKUKUZA Airport it was decreed that a fire engine was required, it was purchased and members of the Commando were trained in its operation. The fire engine was at daytime used at the airport and after all the daily activities had been completed, was then brought to the staff village.

Later on home nursing courses were provided to the ladies of the KRUGER PARK Commando.

Annual training camps were held from Sunday to Sunday. They were accommodated in tents. Lectures were given Sunday to Tuesday and operations would then be done Wednesday to Saturday.

The Medical Doctor was Dr. Johan Botha; he was a good friend of all. He often treated malaria cases. Very often cases were reported too late and by then the Malaria had turned into Black water fever, often resulting in the death of the patient.

Many people came and went; the Park rules and the lifestyle did not suit all.

After dark gates were to be kept closed, children were indoors, except for restaurant staff, no one was allowed in the streets. Gardens had to be kept and wel maintained. There were no elaborate shopping centres, the staff shop in the Village sufficed. Maybe once a month they would go to Nelspruit for a days outing.

One evening after the end of his shift a waiter from the restaurant while on his way home, was attacked by a Leopard, he lost an eye and apart from this fortunately he was only badly scratched. Two black ladies saw the incident and ran to a house to report the incident, after doing so – one dropped down dead – from shock.

Irene retired from the SANPARK service in 1997 after 30 wonderful years spent at SKUKUZA, she says what she still misses is the friendship and the sharing they experienced at SKUKUZA, where a helping hand always was close by.

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:29 am 
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Johan Kloppers Part 1.

Johan Kloppers was born in Delmas during August 1933. Here he attended school until he had completed his Std. eight and then moved to Hoër Volkskool Heidelberg where he matriculated.

Johan’s uncle was the Post Master at SKUKUZA and he spent many school holidays in the KRUGER PARK, either just loafing around or temporarily employed. He dreamed of maybe one day he would become a Game Ranger here. . . . .

After completing his school career he regularly unsuccessfully applied for a position as a Game Ranger. . . . .

His father was a funeral undertaker; Johan was not quite keen on succeeding his father and decided to become a Medical Doctor, in those days one either became a Doctor or a Minister or a School Teacher. . . .

He enrolled at TUKS for his first year’s studies, staying in SONOP men’s hostel. During all the extra mural activities which included playing bridge there was not much time for studying, he passed his first year and during the second year he passed Anatomy and Physiology, of course his father was upset and told him that he was not sponsoring his social life/studies any further and offered him a position in the family business.

Johan then decided to join the South African Navy; eventually he scraped together enough courage and informed his father about his decision. His father accepted this and gave him One Hundred Pounds in cash and wished him well.

Johan went to Defence Headquarters Pretoria and was referred to the Navy Recruiting Section, where he applied and was accepted. He was too old to be admitted to the Navy Gymnasium but started as a Store man at Saldanha, after completion of his Basic Navy Training he got his Military Vehicle drivers licence and the Store man became the driver of Commander Bierman’s Staff car.

While chatting to the Commander, Johan mentioned that he would like admission to the Navy Gymnasium. The Commander promised to see what he could do; there were two other members who also made application for late admission to the Gymnasium.

One day the Commander summonsed Seaman JJ Kloppers to his office and informed him that he was granted special entrance to the South African Navy Gymnasium where he could be trained to become an Officer, Johan was overjoyed, he packed his kit and reported to the Gym. Here he found it quite pleasant and was also quite well respected by the others members – him being three to four years their senior.

The instructors were all members of the British Navy, Johan mentions that he loved listening to them – they spoke a language of their own, the Afrikaans in the Navy was all translations from the Dutch language which very often was not very clear or understandable. He therefore preferred doing his exams in English.

Not many months later he was called to the telephone and on the other side from SKUKUZA was Col. Rowland Jones – the then Senior Game Ranger in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, who told Johan that there was position available as a Junior Game Ranger and that while going through all the previous applications, he seemed a suitable applicant – would he still be interested in coming for a final interview?

Johan immediately said yes that he was, but he had now signed on as member of the South African Navy and he would have to find out how he could get out of his contract.

He spoke to his Instructor who referred him to what he dreaded – the Commander who had gone through much effort in getting admission for him to the Gym.

Soon Seaman Kloppers was marched into the Commander’s office and told to sit down he was asked why he had asked to go on orders. Johan then told the Commander about the offer to become a Ranger – the Commander asked whether he thought it was better than becoming a Naval Officer.

Johan then asked the Commander that should he have had the opportunity to live in the bush in KRUGER PARK what would he have done. The Commander smiled and replied that it may be a difficult decision.

Johan decided that he was taking his chances and decided to go to SKUKUZA for the final interview.

The Commander told Johan that he could buy himself out of his contract with the Navy – it would cost One Hundred Pounds cash – Johan still had the money his father had given him, it was drawn and paid over.

The following day the flat broke ex Seaman JJ Kloppers hit the road - hitch hiking to SKUKUZA for the final interview as he was cash stripped – he did not even have enough for a 2nd class train ticket, it was August of the year 1955.

Arriving at SKUKUZA Johan Kloppers was joined by Thys Mostert and Volcker Spruyt for the interviews.

After the interviews JJ Kloppers the 7th was appointed as a Junior Game Ranger in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK at TSHOKWANE – he realised that he was very ignorant about the Lowveld but he was prepared to learn and make a success of his career – one he always dreamed of.

His offered salary was Three Hundred Pounds per annum.

Here at TSHOKWANE the Junior Ranger was fortunate enough to have his mentor – Titus – who started teaching him the language of the day – Fanagalo, Johan later was quite surprised when he discovered that it was not Shangane.

Johan was issued with an old 1947 Ford bakkie, starting the vehicle was a whole operation so he preferred walking.

Johan and Titus walked very many miles in KRUGER – the patient Titus teaching and the very eager Johan learning – it was during this period that he earned the name which he still carries today – Madolo – knees, from Elias Nzima his other tutor with whom many evenings were spent around a little campfire – far away from all – only the bush symphony interrupting his learning from Titus and Elias.

Here at TSHOKWANE many hours were spent on target practise with the issued old .303 rifle.

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:04 pm 
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Johan Kloppers Part 2.

Much time was spent on marking out fire breaks, accessible roads were very few, and there was much to do. Johan was instructed to mark out the Eastern Border road along the Lebombo Mountains from Mbazi down to the Sabie River. This would serve as a firebreak as well as a patrol road.

After the marking out had taken place, the area was cleared by hand and by Bulldozer and then graded.

During this period there were many trespassers from Mozambique, they were arrested and used as Mafortinis. After being arrested they had to work in the Park for fourteen days, assisting in clearing the bush, while being accommodated and fed by the National Parks Board.

After the fourteen days, they would be paid five shillings and be issued with a thoroughfare permit and transported to the Orpen or Numbi Gates, from where they then could proceed to their decided destination.

This was a system introduced by Col. Stevenson Hamilton after he had been appointed Justice of the Peace.

Johan says that this system kept on going until a newly appointed Policeman at the SKUKUZA Police Station put an end to it - trespassers were now to be arrested and brought to trial and then after completion of their sentence be deported back to Mozambique – needless the Mozambicans preferred the Mafortini system.

Eventually the road from the Sabie to the Nwasontsontso to the Sweni and then to the Nwanetsi was marked out and the required roads were completed.

No maps of the area were available, the only map used was an old one used by the Department of Water Affairs, which was all tattered and stained and wind blown. Johan realised the problem and here his interest in mapping and standardised place names started.

What he enjoyed most was – disappearing into the bush for up to a fortnight at a time marking out and measuring up and clearing and doing what they had to do, with his only company his few staff members and the labour gang, no radio or telephone contact; nothing to interrupt or disturb the solitude of the AFRICAN bush, sometimes where there was radio reception, he reported progress between 06:00 and 07:00 - the allocated radio time for the Rangers.

He mentioned that during the 1950s poaching in the TSHOKWANE to the Lebombo Mountains area was virtually unheard of. Incidents of poaching were of very minor importance – mostly for sustenance, which was tolerated.

The only two Scientists during this period were Drs. Nel and Manie (later professor) v/d Schyff. Dr. Tol Pienaar started as a Cadet Ranger at KINGFISHERSPRUIT during December 1955 as a fresh graduate from the WITS University; the two young Rangers soon became very close friends.

The two young Rangers together with the much feared Oom Lou Steyn often had very heated arguments with the two mentioned Doctors about the Management of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

Oom Lou had his own ideas, he for instance did not believe in scientific veld burning.

Johan mentioned that fortunately he and Tol were of the few youngsters whom Oom Lou liked so they were quite happy being tolerated by the Warden.

With a faint smile he recalled the following incident:

One day at Leeupan a big American sedan arrived; the occupants started attracting a troop of baboons by feeding them, a youngster got into the car and could not find its way out.

It started shouting; this attracted the troop and some large males came closer, the windows were wound up and the youngster still inside, it got hysterical; and was jumping around from window to windscreen to rear window.

The anxiety caused a running stomach and the inside of the car and all the passengers were sprayed with baboon excrement.

Johan went closer and chased the troop away, he opened the door and the little one escaped and ran off, the people in the car were thankful and started getting out of the car, Johan asked what now, they said that they wanted to clean-up the mess, Johan replied that they were not allowed to get out at Leeupan and suggested that they drive to a ‘safe to alight” area and clean the car there - he was quite sure that those people would not feed baboons ever again.

He said that people contravene rules because they are allowed to; strict law enforcement is the only way out.

Johan got married to Pat on 12 October 1957; the family was blessed with their son Jacobus, on 27 March 1974.

After eight years at TSHOKWANE, the family moved to LETABA on 16 January 1963 Johan as District Ranger where they spent almost a year until 20th November 1963 when back to SATARA as District Ranger for the Central Region and then on 1st May 1967 to PUNDA MARIA as District Ranger for the Far North, which includes the beautiful PAFURI area, for six wonderful years.

To Johan as with all the other Rangers I have had the privilege of interviewing; PUNDA MARIA was the best. Displayed in his sitting room is a sketch of one of the old accommodation units in PM which the ladies of the PARK presented to him upon his retirement – a very special treasure in the Kloppers household, bringing back fond memories.

The Kloppers family was transferred to SKUKUZA on 1st December 1973 when he was appointed as the Chief Ranger until 1st February 1974.

Here at SKUKUZA he became desk bound, during this period the Ranger Posts were doubled; from eleven to twenty two.

While at SKUKUZA Johan was offered the position as Warden of the ADDO ELEPHANT NATIONAL PARK, an offer he declined, he loved the Lowveld and its animals and its plants and the hot climate too much.

Johan Kloppers was appointed Assistant Director: Wildlife Management on 1 February 1974. He was further promoted to Head: Nature Management in SKUKUZA, and on 1st July 1979 as Head Manager: Nature Conservation until his retirement 1st November 1993.

There were no telephones; Johan mentioned that Oom Lappies the then Assistant Director of the National Parks Board proposed that the wives of the Rangers become the radio operators in the absence of the Rangers, he – Johan objected and being quite upset explained that the wives were NOT employed by the National Parks Board and are therefore to be kept out of this – fortunately the proposal was not carried and Johan also remained unscathed.

The Ranger’s homes had a tiny little generator to provide just enough power to supply a bit of electricity for lighting. Fridges were paraffin driven. A major advancement was the installation of Lister generators which supplied enough power for even fridges, what was really good was the fact that they could be switched off from home, instead of walking off into the dark unknown to switch off the older smaller much noisier little generators.

A further “improvement” was the erection of radio relay stations improving the communication system.

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:38 pm 
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Johan Kloppers Part 3.

His special interest was the mapping the park and supplying enough water for game.

Much time was spent carefully preparing overlays from air photos which were again in detail converted into maps of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, the walls of his office was covered by air photographs and the maps he had prepared, accurately indicating beacons and streams and rivers and hills and places of interest and pickets and. . . . . .

Next time you purchase or have a look at a KRUGER NATIONAL PARK map, please remember the previous paragraphs.

The standardization of the names of the rivers and streams and hills and various sites was undertaken by Johan Kloppers after consultation with the Shangane and Tsonga and Pedi and Sotho and Zulu and Swazi people who dominated the area during times gone by. Finding the origin and then to deciding on a standard spelling. Very often the same place was spelt in many different ways in a few pages of a report – causing great confusion to the reader.

Johan Kloppers is the co-author of “A DICTIONERY OF KRUGER NATIONAL PARK PLACE NAMES” with HANS BORNMAN.

He also published the guide book “Butterflies of the Kruger National Park together with Dr. G von Son in 1978.

Johan mentioned that the 1960 drought period was heartbreaking. The far north had few water points - a few near Malatsapanga, Shangoni and maybe two at Shisha had some water. The vleis east of Vlakteplaas and Dzundzwini where the water table was less than one meter from the surface where fountains were plentiful now had all run dry.

The Babalala area was dry - a dry period starting after 1900, permanent fountains had dried up. Locals left the area because of drought. A fountain at Punda Maria still had a bit. There was no water for miles and miles. The basalt areas ran dry; this is the reason why the “Water for Game” campaign was again started.

Hippo wandered off from their dried up pools during this period to never return – dying from dehydration and sunburn. Many had to be culled saving the species from extermination.

The policy was always to keep it as it was; a certain amount of management was required as the area was no longer natural because of border fences. Something had to be done to prevent masses of Wild animals from dying a terrible death of thirst.

During the late 1950s there was only one herd of elephants between the Sabie and Olifants Rivers, roaming North West of SATARA at Timbavati totalling thirty. The herd for the first time moved towards the Sabie River during 1958, this herd eventually grew to sixty in the early 1960s.

Influx of elephants from Mozambique due to human pressure at their known waterholes; resulted in more than two thousand of these magnificent animals being counted during the early 1960s in all of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, with the majority roaming the Northern Mopani Areas.

He is convinced that most of the Elephants now roaming the bush and the dusty plains of KRUGER were born in the Park.

The large herds moved mainly during the dry winter months in search for watering points and better feeding areas.

These herds did not return to Mozambique after the Eastern border fence had been removed, they were satisfied with their new found pastures.

Johan is of opinion that due to the man made restrictions on the movement of Elephant and the threat they pose to the whole eco-system, culling seems to be the only Management tool.

Animals cannot survive without water, during times of drought, dominant species such as Elephant, Buffalo and Zebra definitely have a negative impact on the other species habituating the area.

The Letaba – once a beautiful perennial river is now very often reduced to a sandy riverbed with a few pools, frequented by too many Crocodiles and Hippos and fish due to water extraction higher upstream outside the KRUGER PARK for the irrigation of the citrus farms.

The Olifants which once was a clear free flowing giver of life is now polluted by Industrial. Mining and Agricultural effluent to such an extent that much of the aqua culture has disappeared.

He is also of opinion the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK as all of nature can take care of itself, it requires minimal if any management by man and of course no destruction or abuse by the mentioned species. However where man had interfered with nature – man has now become responsible for some management – should it be left alone the balance will eventually be restored.

Johan Kloppers is of opinion that the salvation of KRUGER lies in the education of all regarding the importance and wonders of this wonderful place.

Eland migrated from Mozambique to the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK where their numbers grew, upon retiring from KRUGER, Johan was still aware of a growing population in the Northern areas.

Many are finding it very difficult adapting from the old to the current, he mentioned that we must never forget the “Hoek Report” which introduced change to the old ways. The best person for the position will make a success and a lasting contribution to the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

Experience is worth gold, so is an inborn love for nature, too much book knowledge normally results in desk bound managers, the best way of managing and learning is a walk through the bush with one’s eyes and ears wide open.

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:58 pm 
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Johan Kloppers Part 4.

Johan mentioned a few experiences during his career.

He said that it is well known fact that it is better standing your ground to a charging Lion than to try and outsprint it. He put it to test during his first tenure at TSHOKWANE – him and of his Field rangers were in the veld looking for suitable places to scrape dams.

They were walking down a dry rivulet when all of a sudden he noticed something under a bit of rock – it was a Lioness with her newborn – less than two metres away, watching the leading Ranger carrying Johan’s rifle – quite unaware of the golden mother, Johan walked on he looking in the opposite direction also indicating to the following Ranger to look away from the mother.

Even today he is still convinced that their saving grace that day was that the Lioness was not aware that she had been noticed by them, they all passed the Lioness without her showing any reaction.

He told that experience had taught him that an animal would make the choice of either fleeing or attacking, the moment it realised that its camouflage had been compromised.

The Lioness could not flee and with her cubs close by would have had no alternative than to attack very aggressively.

Johan mentioned that during his first year at TUKS he also took Zoology and Botany as subjects which later came in very handy during his employment in KRUGER. He said that had he had more theoretical education he most probably would have been a better Ranger.

Johan mentioned that very often he advertised Rangers position just because he had to, how was it humanly possible to sift through more than two thousand applications for the advertised position; he always kept “possibles” from previous applicants and then found a few more for interviews, his gut feel seldomnly let him down after an appointment.

Area Rangers first had to start off as a Trails Ranger, they had to have a very thorough knowledge of the fauna and the flora as they had to be able to answer the questions by trailists.

Very often Section Rangers temporarily go back to basics while relieving as Trail Rangers.

Unfortunately too many people even today still are under the impression that if you have a rifle in your hand, you can be a Trails Ranger – nothing is further away from the truth – being a Trails ranger is also not a booby prize, it is a stepping stone.

Before one can become a Trails Ranger one has to study and prepare yourself mentally and physically.

Part of the procedure is to shoot a charging Elephant which is being herded on by a helicopter – he recalls the evaluation of the late Sam Fourie.

The helicopter could be heard in the distance Sam and the late Bruce Bryden and Johan were together. The noise became louder and louder and then the selected Elephant came into sight, running in their direction – Sam calmly looked on and then asked whether he must really shoot and kill this beautiful animal, Bruce answered in the affirmative, the Elephant still came, Bruce was about to shoot when Sam reluctantly raised his rifle and squeezed the trigger – the grey colossus dropped about five metres from the three men.

Bruce was quite angry with Sam and amongst others told Sam that he nearly caused him – Bruce a heart attack. Sam replied that he had hoped that he would just in time be instructed not to shoot and give way for the fleeing Elephant to pass. He thought he had proven that he had enough nerve by just standing his ground.

Unfortunately Rangers have to prove that they can stand their ground and fire accurately when danger is threatening human lives whether it is a Buffalo or an Elephant or a Lion or a Leopard or a Rhino or a Hippo or whatever.

The test was not to see whether he could shoot to kill – it was to see whether he was going to run away and leave those in his care to be killed. . . . .

Johan mentioned that Ampie Espag while at NWANETSI, and himself at SATARA became great friends, their families regularly visited one another. Ampie although not very well educated in a class room just had the natural qualities of an excellent Ranger his qualities were second to none.

Johan started as a Junior Ranger and was later promoted to Ranger then to Section Ranger and later to District Ranger and then to Senior Ranger followed by Chief Ranger and then to Deputy Director of Nature Conservation of the National Parks Board.

He said that he should have remained a District Ranger as he soon discovered that an office job was not his forte, he loved spending his time in the veld. This is where was at his happiest – not in an office putting pen to paper or rolling up red tape attending to trivialities.

Johan retired during 1993 and moved to Mtunzini where the climate suited him best. However he has recently for health and personal reasons moved back to Nelspruit where he still enjoys the Lowveld.

He said that when he retired he was finished; he did not interfere as he has enough trust in his successors to know that their hearts are where they should be.

He knows that Johan Oelofse and Don English and Steven Whitfield and Louis Olivier together with the Ranger Training Colleges are training up the new generation of Rangers who one day with sufficient experience will be as good as any. Of those mentioned grew up in the Park, learning from their fathers – now they have the opportunity to share their knowledge with others . . . . .

Maybe one day you will be fortunate enough to come across a fine Elephant bull with impressive symmetrical tusks the left slightly longer than the right, with relatively clean ears maybe you will notice some small vee shaped notches in the left ear in the lower parts with a small hole near the lower notch - roaming the area between SKUKUZA and KRUGER GATE – also named – Madolo, as a tribute to this remarkable man – whose footprints cover most of this wonderful place.

Here is a photograph of the award to Johan Kloppers – a precious silver Kudu head set on soap stone - sculptured by Coert Steynberg for thirty years of loyal service.

Image

Here below are some of the badges worn by Johan Kloppers the man who spent the period 1955 to 1993 in the KRUGER PARK,

Image

the original Rangers badge.

Image

the current set used

Image

all the badges including the 30 year commemoration of the Wilderness Trails.


of the man who most probably knows KRUGER better than anyone else – the humble doyen of many of the Rangers of yesteryear and well respected by everyone who came to know him, myself included

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:38 am 
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Dr. Eddie Young.

Dr. Eddie Young was born in the very early 1940s, he grew up on his father’s farm in the Northam District of the North West Province. His dream was always to one day become a Veterinary Surgeon and to then work with the Wildlife of Africa.

He was admitted to the Veterinary Department of the Pretoria University in January 1959 where he qualified as a Vet after five years study.

His first job was in the Pretoria Zoo where he spent about eighteen months and then his dream came true when he was appointed State Veterinarian in SKUKUZA in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

Many of the old timers may still remember the white Landrover Station Wagon with the red buffalo emblem on the doors travelling in the PARK during the late 1960 and early 1970s, with two passengers in, getting a bit closer one would notice a fit looking young man and the passenger quite different – it was a sleek golden coloured catlike image – getting even closer your suspicion was confirmed – yes it was a Cheetah.

He was married to Nicki and they had two children – Linda-Louise and Edwin.

Dr. Eddie Young was a very energetic young man who enjoyed life to the full. He did much work on the research of capturing and caring of wild animals. Much of his time was spent in Foot and Mouth disease control as well as the habits of Wild animals.

Eddie spent much time in researching Lions. Once while studying the herding habits of Buffalo near the Mativuhlungu Spruit confluence with the Sabie River, he noticed some Lionesses with cubs. He decided to spend some time in the area – observing the Buffalo and Lions at daytime and also writing up his research papers, the evenings were spent in the back of the Landrover.

Initially the Lionesses hid the cubs in the bush, they would call the cubs and then move a little way off, where the cubs suckled.

The Lions soon became used to Eddie and the Landrover.

Once after a failed hunting attempt the Lions checked the Landrover with its occupant – the larger one approached the vehicle and then sat down close by and glared at the Landrover and its occupant – Eddie stared back.

After a while she got up and waved her tail – seemingly satisfied with the situation, she then lied down and turned onto her back – a picture of total calm and relaxation. The rest of the pride soon followed her example. All spread out in the sun – around the parked Landrover.

When dusk approached Eddie started the Landover and slowly drove off to his usual overnight spot – he noticed that the pride was following him.

Two days later the largest Lioness approached the Landrover and inquisitively stared at Eddie through the open window while waving her tail. She then walked off into the reed bush and made her calls, she then seemed to look around and to Eddie’s great surprise – out came the golden bundles of fur with their dark spots, the Lioness turned around and walked straight to the Landrover with the cubs following her. Soon the other Lioness also approached with her young cubs in tow. The mothers made some Lion sound and the little cubs lay down in the shade of the Landie, watching their mothers walking off.

Needless to say Eddie was quite chaffed at being the guardian of the precious cubs.

One late afternoon Eddie was observing a Lioness in the grass next to a Wildebeest path. A small group of Wildebeest approached and she prepared for the kill, unfortunately for her the Wildebeest became aware of the Lioness and they galloped off in a streak of dust in the late afternoon sun.

The Lioness approached the Landrover and stopped at the side from where she stared at the occupant. She waived her tail not unlike that of a friendly dog and then moved off.

He said that his life always was one great adventure.

He often in his mind relived times on the banks of the Sabie River, his thoughts often moved over the bush and plains of the Lowveld.

He often still smelt the first rain drops of the early spring, when the Blue Wildebeest started their northerly migration after they had seen the lightning flashes in the direction of Kingfisherspruit and Lindanda. He often still imagined the sound of thundering hooves in the dark of night across the rocky plains – he also often imagined the whinnying cry of a Zebra which had fallen prey to a Lion.

He called the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK – “God’s Garden”.

He wrote that life was too short to only live it once. Life is too precious to only experience it once. His advice was whatever your situation is: “live every day to the fullest, accept every bit of good out of every opportunity. Extract much enjoyment out of every joyful occasion, even if it would be the quiet or the being alone. Never become enslaved to routine.

Seek new horizons, never let possible impossibilities become obstacles in one’s life. Always seek new challenges and solutions in every crisis that comes across your path; never allow bitterness to become part of your life. The winning recipe would be to change your lifestyle if it has become boring or unbearable.

Never recklessly gamble with the lives of yourself and your loved ones; beg for guidance from the Supreme Creator and Father.

When doors are closed in your face and others are opened, the time has arrived for one to find enough courage and commence with a new lifestyle.

Those who ever had the opportunity of meeting Eddie Young always realised that he was an honest, down to earth bloke. He was en expert in his field – this can be ascertained by reading of his publications.

After spending eleven years in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, Eddie young resigned and started a career in Wildlife Management working from his farm in the Northam area.

He was President of the South African Wildlife Management Association during the period 1971 to 1973.

Dr. Lucas Potgieter described Eddie as being like a rubber ball, always bouncing around very energetically.

Unfortunately Dr. Eddie Young died when his micro light aircraft crashed near Nylstroom during the second week of August 1990, while assisting the South African Police in an anti Stock- and Game – theft operation.

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2010 6:02 pm 
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An Award to Dr. Ian Player - 2008.

Dr. Ian Player Receives Peter H. Capstick Hunting Heritage Award

Fiona Capstick

The Peter H. Capstick Hunting Heritage Award (PHCHHA) is named after the well-known American author, whose defense of the international big-game hunting community and the role of hunting in the conservation of wildlife and its habitat made him a household name. Award criteria include active involvement in: education, hunting, conservation organizations, humanitarian causes, research, permanent endowments, and charitable giving. The intent of the PHCHHA is summed up in the Award Committees’ words: “The objective of this award is to bring honor and recognition to an individual, organization or group whose achievements reveal a sustained and significant contribution to the conservation of wildlife and its habitat. Additionally, the winner will have shown long-term commitment to our hunting heritage by pursuing that goal for the benefit of future generations.”The establishment of this premiere hunting award heralds a milestone for the international hunting and wildlife conservation community by highlighting individuals or groups responsible for the long-term support and commitment to our hunting heritage.

When Harry Tennison, the noted hunter/conservationist of Forth Worth, Texas, inaugurated Peter H. Capstick Hunting Heritage Award at the Dallas Safari Club Convention in 2005, an exceptional benchmark was set. Baron Bertrand des Clers of France and President Theodore Roosevelt have since been honoured for generating and bequeathing a magnificent heritage of conservation excellence that knows no borders and that embraces all peoples everywhere in the quest to conserve what remains of the world’s wilderness and wildlife.

In 2008, Dallas Safari Club and the Dallas Ecological Foundation paid homage to Dr. Ian Player, the internationally acclaimed conservationist visionary from South Africa. Revered around the world as one of the elder statesmen of conservation, his undaunted dedication has raised the consciousness of human beings everywhere about the interconnectedness between humans and the natural world and about the crucial value of the wilderness experience in healing the human soul.

The great-grandson of an Englishman who immigrated to Natal, South Africa in 1850, Ian Player’s African roots are deep. His special kinship with the Zulu people and with their historic home in Natal exercised a profound influence on him and resulted in his pioneering a wilderness leadership movement in 1957 that now flourishes on several continents. Player cut short his high school education in Johannesburg to enlist in the 6th South African Armoured Division, attached to the American 5th Army in Italy where he served from late 1944 until 1946. He was only 17 years old. Back in South Africa, young Player worked for a while in a gold mine before coming up for good into the fresh air and sunlight of another world. He headed for Natal where his ancestor had disembarked a solid century previously. The lush hills and valleys of the early Zulu Kingdom beckoned where mighty rivers flowed in all their wild beauty to the humid estuaries and golden dunes on the Indian Ocean. All Player’s senses would be invigorated and his soul fired up with a vision to share the wilderness experience with the world.

Before becoming a cadet game ranger with the Natal Parks Board in 1952, Ian Player had already inaugurated what is widely acknowledged as being the toughest canoe race in the world, namely the Dusi Canoe Marathon of over 110 river miles between Pietermaritzburg and Durban on the Indian Ocean. A triple back-to-back winner, Player was well equipped for his new calling where advanced bush skills, courage and tenacity were prerequisites for the job.

It was his life-changing good fortune in 1953 to meet a remarkable middle-aged Zulu employee of the Natal Parks Board, Qumbu Magqubu Ntombela. A legendary game tracker and formidable repository of Zulu oral history, he was already a skilled hunter at 14 when he began working for the first game conservator of Zululand, Frederick Vaughan Kirby, soldier, hunter and noted author. Player, too, would eventually become Chief Conservator of Zululand by the time he retired in 1974.

Magqubu, who could trace his lineage back to the great kings, chiefs and warriors of his people, had an unrivalled knowledge of the wilderness and its wildlife as well as great wisdom and insight into human nature. He took his young protégé on a learning curve like no other as he guided him into the real Africa. With unfailing enthusiasm and courtesy, Magqubu communicated the urgency to conserve wilderness and wildlife and to spread that message to other worlds.

He and Player demonstrated the eco therapy of wild places and the value of the wilderness in helping us retain our sense of humanity and our ability to respect and reconcile. It was Magqubu who shared the tradition of the indaba of the Zulu people, a meeting where the elders would confer with their peers or address the young on matters of great importance. It was this tradition and Magqubu that inspired Player to organise the first triennial world wilderness congress in Johannesburg in 1977.

Ian Player and Magqubu were together from the start in a history-making mission in the late 1950s when Player headed a highly specialised team of exceptional people in what became known around the world as Operation Rhino. From a few dozen white rhino in their natural habitat in the Umfolozi Reserve of Zululand at the turn of the 20th century, facing a desperately precarious future, they now number in excess of 12 000 animals.

Player and his team developed what at that time was a revolutionary drug-darting technique for the capture and translocation of these huge animals. The young ranger personally oversaw the sale of breeding colonies to zoological gardens and safari parks in many foreign countries to help ensure the diversification of the gene pool and the survival of the species. Operation Rhino became arguably the most successful translocation programme in conservation history, making world headlines in the process.

Ian Player’s conservation achievements are many and they are remarkable, shared throughout by his remarkable wife of almost 51 years, Felicity Ann, and by his three children. Among these triumphs was the proclamation in 1958 of the first wilderness areas, as opposed to parks, anywhere in Africa. These were in Umfolozi and Hluhluwe, covering part of the traditional hunting grounds of the Zulu kings.

In 1959, Player and Magqubu began wilderness trails on foot through those areas, accompanying people of all races and from many countries on a journey of self-discovery through nature like no other. Extensive international travel followed to promote conservation. Player produced and showed wildlife films and raised funds for major environmental projects as well as scholarships, such as those that enabled over one hundred young Americans to attend the Wilderness Leadership School.

Ian Player’s expertise also resulted in his being engaged as technical advisor on major wildlife films such as MGM’s “Rhino” and in implementing and overseeing a conservation program with the Philippines Government concerning the highly endangered Tamarau, a miniature buffalo.

To his eternal credit, Player spearheaded a decade-long international campaign to prevent a mining company from exploiting titanium deposits in the St. Lucia wetlands on the KwaZulu-Natal coast. With no funds but with a lifetime of knowledge, cast-iron determination and an international reputation with a matching network of influential friends, Ian Player took up the fight, much like the Zulu warriors of old when they braced the British Empire’s rifles with their spears.

The battle lasted until 1996 when the mining company finally threw in the towel. On 1 December 1999, UNESCO proclaimed the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park as South Africa’s first Natural World Heritage Site. Ian Player’s relentless courage and tenacity in the face of severe criticism, wilful ignorance and even outright hostility helped conserve for posterity the largest estuarine system in Africa and the southernmost extension of coral reefs on the continent.

Recipient of two honorary doctorate degrees, author of five books and numerous articles, Ian Player has also been honoured with many local and international awards, starting with The San Diego Zoological Society’s Gold Medal for Conservation in 1966, followed in 1969 by Game Conservation International’s Award in San Antonio. Other international honours include the Knight of the Order of the Golden Ark conferred on him in 1982 by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and Germany’s Bruno Schubert Lifetime Award for Conservation, presented in 2003.

Ian Player’s words contain a serious warning now. He said: “We can do something about conservation as conscious beings. If we don’t nature in all her ruthlessness will do it for us. We will lose something very deep within ourselves if we allow wilderness to be destroyed. As Magqubu would say: We are the land and the land is us.”
The laudation to Dr. Ian Player at the Dallas Safari Club Gala black-tie banquet was accompanied by an audiovisual presentation, which also included Dr Player’s acceptance speech given on camera from his home in Karkloof, outside Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal. Amyas Player, Dr Player’s younger son accepted the award from Harry Tennison on behalf of his famous father. Tennison and Dr Player have been close friends for several decades. It was a truly historic evening.

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:18 am 
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Does anyone remember G.L. Smuts.

Park Ranger. He did a lot of lion research in the Lower-Sabie area.

Regards,

Wayne


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 12:43 pm 
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Herman v/d Veen.

Herman v/d Veen joined the Kruger National Park as clerk of the then Warden Col. James Stevenson Hamilton during 1932.

During WWII he did duty in the Middle East and was part of the Allied Forces who conquered the Nazi Forces in the Mediterranean Area.
After completing his military duties, he returned to his beloved KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

Herman soon realised that he could play a major role in the newly formed Tourism and Administration sections of the Park. During 1948 he successfully applied for a position as Head of Administration and Tourism.

He attended a training course in Switzerland about the aspects of the hospitality industry and on his return Mr Van as he was called by his colleagues set standards that may be equalled but are not easily beaten.

Mr Van took pride in everything he did and also ensured that his subordinates did the same, all rest camp facilities were be inspected by the tourism staff on a rotational basis daily, he would do follow up spot checks and if he found that something had been overlooked or neglected the stormy clouds would appear.

He believed that the best time was now, Tertius Minnie and Frans Laubscher ex Parks Engineers and Jan van Achtenberg and Zirk Kruger – Ex Maintenance Foreman, recall that the Maintenance staff never let a job card from the Tourism Staff unattended as they knew that Herman would soon be following up and if he was not satisfied . . . . . . big trouble . . . . .

Mr Van was affectionally called “Makuloskop” by the black staff of the Park.

He expected only the best of all his staff, the job always came first and then anything else, he set the example, and he was not above packing shelves in the shops, he would very often leave his home at SKUKUZA in the very early hours of the morning and drive up to SHINGWEDZI or any other camp and when the Tourism and Shop staff arrive at their work place they would notice a familiar figure taking a stroll through the camp or waiting at the shop, he set the example and expected of all to follow.

Regular visits were made to the restaurants, the kitchens, storage and dining facilities were inspected while wearing a white glove on his right hand, white crockery had to be snow white, and not chipped, glasses had to be glittering, table cloths and serviettes starched and spotless, floors and windows had to be mirror like, attire like newly purchased and worn by friendly welcoming personnel. The curtains and décor had to have the just installed appearance. Menus were dated and beware if an incorrectly dated menu was found. The “table de hote” meals were tasted and had to be well prepared fare and also neatly served.

Herman never let an opportunity go by to be in attendance when something in the Park was happening; such as the first attempt to catch Hippo for translocation to Addo, this is another story told by some blushing members of the Conservation Services Staff. He was also present when the first Rhinos from Natal were released in the quarantine camp near Pretoriuskop as well as the release of the Cheetahs from Namibia into the holding camp at Tshokwane in 1969.

He even volunteered to assist in the annual game census which was done in either a fixed wing aeroplane or helicopter in the turbulent hot skies of the Lowveld, (apparently only once, maybe the young pilot also had something to do with this, who would ever know).

Mr Van eventually became Manager Administration and Tourism of the Kalahari Gemsbok - , the Addo – and the Mountain Zebra National Parks, maybe this is also the reason why these Parks offered facilities and services of such a high standard.

Irene Grobler tells that Mr Van had a wonderful knack of allocating nicknames, not always very flattering but normally quite apt, because of this he very seldomnly addressed people by their name or surname. Newcomers to the service were often quite embarrassed when told to go to so and so and they did not have any inclination of who he was referring to.

No furniture was purchased unless Mr Van had approved the quality and the price of the unit, maybe this why some of the wood and steel chairs and tables purchased by him are still in use in many of the accommodation units.

No goods were purchased for sale in the shops unless he was satisfied that the quality was only of the best, he personally decided on the pricing, ensuring that all was affordable and that no junk was for sale in his shops.

In 1970 he recommended that:

A total of 3000 beds should be made available in KRUGER to ensure the maximum immediate income on the invested capital.
The size of huts should be adapted to meet the average demand throughout the year.
50% of the beds should be placed in huts with conveniences.
All huts should be with window gauze to keep mosquitos out at night. The reduced risk of Malaria would in turn make the huts available for occupation throughout the year.
Sufficient accommodation with conveniences should be provided for the different race groups-both tourists and servants.
Sufficient communal kitchens should be provided in all rest camps.
The layout and facilities of camping areas should receive urgent attention. Separate and sufficient ablution facilities should be provided for campers.
Shops and restaurants should be enlarged or rebuilt to comply with the growing demands of the rest camps.
Appropriate accommodation should be provided for all rest camp staff.
Three satellite camps should be built, with a capacity of 125 beds each. These camps would have their own bedding, crockery and cooking utensils as well as refrigeration facilities, but no shop or restaurant. These camps had to be in close proximity to existing camps with shop and restaurant facilities. Tshokwane and Timbavati were suggested as ideal settings for these camps.
A luxury camp similar to Mala Mala should be built at the confluence of the Sabi and the Sand Rivers. Accommodation should be provided for a maximum of 100 people and the tariffs should be similar to those charged in the private reserves outside the park.

Herman v/d Veen also took part in many other activities, he was the Commanding Officer of the Kruger Park Commando for a while, and he was a member of the very active Recreational Committee.

Herman and wife Daphne; since 1 July 1939, the daughter of Ranger TL (Pop) James from Malelane and daughters Gillian and Jennifer often arranged staff get togethers which were well attended and enjoyed by all.

Dr Tol Pienaar with a smile tells the story of how a party at their neighbours (the v/d Veens) one evening was rudely interrupted by some uninvited Lions who had entered through their left open gate.

Herman v/d Veen served in the service of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK for 42 years with Wardens; J Stevenson Hamilton, JAB Sandenbergh, Lou Steyn, AM Brynard and U de V Pienaar.

The efforts of Mr Van are of the main reasons why the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK was and still is regarded as a premier tourist destination for a soul soothing experience, where visitors could relax and enjoy nature in excellent hygiene and reasonable comfort and then soon after leaving, start planning their next visit

Mr Van retired as Assistant Director Administration and Tourism from the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK in 1974, he still loved regularly visited the place he loved so much and also still did some spot checks to ensure that his place was still in good hands.

His time came on 23 September 1986; he was truly sadly missed by his family, ex-colleagues and many friends.

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:02 pm 
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Butch Smuts- Part 1.


Dr. GL (Butch) Smuts hailed from Worcester in the Karoo where he was born in 1945. Being a country boy it is not difficult to understand why he developed an interest and love for outdoor activities and wildlife.

He did his National Service as a member of the PBI in 1964

He studied at the UCT where he attained his Bsc. in Zoology where Prof. Gerry Broekhuyzen developed and nurtured his interest in wildlife further and also later did his Honours.

He visited the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK for the first time in 1967 and fell in love with the place.

Butch also attended the University of Pretoria (TUKS) where he was guided by Prof. Fritz Eloff and Prof. Oliver Hewitt. He felt that he needed a natural refuge and while working as a student in KRUGER, was told by Neil Fairall one of the scientists about Parks Board research grants and also to approach them directly.

Butch did as told and to his delight he was granted an interview with the Deputy Director of the National Parks Board Mr. RJ Labuschagne (oom Lappies).

Oom Lappies told young Butch that he had the choice of researching either the Quela finches or Zebra. Butch chose the striped species – a priority project in the Central District of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

He immediately set to work on a detailed project for both the Board and his University authorities.

With the aid of research grants by the National Parks Board, the CSIR and a bursary from the Rembrandt Tobacco Corporation of South Africa he was able to start in KRUGER on 3 January 1969 to start his zebra project.

In the beginning he found his way around the Park using maps, on occasions a Black Ranger from the Research Section would accompany him on his driving 2000 to 3000 km per month in the Park, mostly on his own.

Encounters in the bush either in a vehicle or on foot formed his learning curve, each day something new and exciting happened.

Butch found the early morning in the Lowveld quite exhilarating, Marabous and Vultures still perched in a dead tree, silhouetted against the sky which was rapidly changing from dark to orange to blue, being first on the road he also came across many sightings that tourists dream of – a Lion roaring in the cool morning air with puffs of vapour cloud forming at the mouth. Or a pride which had been sleeping on the road, being awakened and then stretching and yawning, or some nocturnal animal returning to its burrow . . . . .

Butch soon gained confidence after speaking to the Scientists and Rangers, he started knowing what it was all about, seasonal migrations, he started tracing and marking the movements and distribution of the herds on his maps and then a picture started emerging. He visited the main concentration areas and saw the signs of overgrazing caused by the Zebra and their fellows – Wildebeest.

His work area was between the Sabi and the Olifants Rivers an area of 5560 square kilometres, the Central Area, in which the majority of Zebra and Wildebeest congregate and form a large part of the 700 Lions and many Leopard, Cheetah, Wild Dog and Spotted Hyaena diet.

The Central District received below average rainfall during the period 1961 to 1970, resulting in poor grass growth, the growing Zebra and Wildebeest population aggravated the situation, their populations peaking in 1969 with 14000 Wildebeest and 13000 Zebra, resulting in overgrazing, the fence on the western and the Lebombos on the Eastern boundary confining these grazers to Central District of the Park, the other areas were either too waterless or too dense.

Overgrazing and trampling eventually adds to the erosion problems when the rains come. Increased culling rates seemed to be the only solution.

Butch had to collect information which would assist the authorities to formulate a Zebra Management policy.

Questions like should Zebra be removed, if so – how many, what time of the year, if they were to be culled how many and what were the required sex ratios to avoid an imbalance, when should the process be ended and also what the long term implications might be.

Butch often saw thirsty animals digging for a bit of moisture during periods of drought, he saw a Zebra having it’s back broken by an Elephant while competing at the outlet of a water pipe, a family of Warthogs was attacked at a muddy waterhole near Nwanedzi by an approaching herd of Zebra, a Crocodile was flattened by Elephants . . .

The huge pachyderms seemed to dominate the waterholes to the exclusion of most other less robust species. They used their trunks to excavate tunnels in the Timbavati River, they would then sip cool water from the underground cavern which other animals could not reach.

Buffalo suffered as the tall grass was soon reduced to unpalatable stubble, waterholes became dangerous quagmires trapping less fortunate animals. Young calves who could not keep up with the herds were found wandering alone and aimlessly in the veld, soon becoming the prey of a predator or becoming part of the renewal process after a long lingering death of hunger and thirst. – All part of the law of nature’s selection process.

Impala and Warthog seemed to suffer extremely in the Crocodile Bridge and Malelane areas due to the depleted food resources, large packs of Cape Hunting Dogs flourished on the emaciated beats.

Then the first soaking rains fell and the children of the great mother responded, Zebra and Wildebeest galloped in sheer delight kicking their heels in the moist air. Staff left their offices and stood in the cool refreshing rain.

Competition for water and grazing soon became something of the past, the dull hides were restored to a glossy sheen as the dusty brown was converting to bright green.

The student had become part of the vast predator-prey interaction which would occupy the best part of his time in the Park.

He was drawn into the predator problem where he soon realised that the Park was part of a Wildlife Management problem which had begun many years earlier, when the first pressures of encroaching human populations were felt, when land was being subdivided and exploited and when fences were erected.

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 9:30 am 
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gmlsmit :thumbs_up:

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[b]Unforgettable Adventures and Memories . . . . Metsi Metsi - March 2011[/b]
[url]http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=51559[/url]

27.12 - 31.12 (Shingwedzi)
01.01 (Tamboti)
02.01 - 03.01 (L.Sabie)
04.01 - 08.01 (Pretoriuskop)


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:52 pm 
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Butch Smuts- Part2 .


Butch soon realised that being a young University graduate his knowledge was limited to the theory of Wildlife and the related matters, studying Zebra and their intricacies would provide him with a sound background to the problems facing conservationists.

Butch found that family groups remained unchanged except for the addition of mares, the birth and death of foals and the departure of sub adults.

The Zebra follow Buffalo which are tall grass feeders, the Zebra benefit by the shortening and trampling of the grass by the larger animals who congregate in large herds. Zebra move in and continue grazing thus shortening the grass even further for the shorter grass favouring species like Wildebeest and Impala, one species is then complementing the next species, even the Buffalo benefit from this as the grassland is not choked with unutilized dead grass material. This routine ensures nutritious new succulent grass sprouting after the first rains of the following season.

The above average rainfall in KRUGER after 1970 has resulted in dramatic changes in composition and distribution of the herbivore community. The Buffalo population increased from 19000 in 1969 to 30000 by 1978; unfortunately the Wildebeest and Zebra population did the opposite.

Over a period of 18 months Butch and Jotai Lubisi a Shangaan Ranger with many years of experience explored and captured and marked on 100 Zebra. The animals were darted using the van Rooyen crossbow, the immobilization drug in the syringed dart was M99, the darted animals went down from 5 to 15 minutes after being struck.

The darted animal was then measured, including their teeth, of which sometimes tiny holes were drilled into, in order to at a later stage measure growth and wear. It was found that the incisors of the lower jaw often wore down by 2.5 mm (from six to two cm or less) per annum. Butch calculated that wild living Zebras therefore would not be able to live beyond the age of 22 years. The animals were also fitted with a coloured numbered neckband.

In wild state old Zebras find it increasingly more difficult to feed and therefore weaken and either die of disease or fall prey of some predator.

After the required information from a darted animal had been collected, the antidote (Lethidrone) was injected into a large vein in the hind leg and within 30 seconds the animal would recover and be galloping off to join the herd.

Tourists and staff were encouraged to report sightings of marked animals, they willingly obliged (more than 1500 reports were received) this assisted greatly in determining the migratory patterns of individuals and herds. Butch found that some Zebras undertook an annual north-south migration of about 60 kilometres between winter and the summer season, some remained in the same general area from one year to the next.



Three major Zebra populations were identified in the Central District. Some were increasing more rapidly than others in certain areas some populations remained static or were even declining.

A proper aerial census was undertaken before any culling could take part. Many newcomers eagerly volunteered to take part in this process which took about 40 to 65 hours of flying time to complete the Central District in about two hours at a time stints. Many only took part once and then left green in the face which was covered in cold sweat and empty bellied after the agonizing experience of low flying and intricate manoeuvres.

After the counts had been completed and statistics compared, the interpretive part commenced, were the numbers declining because of culling or disease or emigration to other areas or maybe predation, poor reproduction or a combination thereof.

Butch was appointed to the permanent staff of the National parks Board in 1970 and was given permission to continue his Zebra research; he would also be required to start working on numerous other projects, which included routine collection and analysis of material assisting with aerial and ground counts as well as assisting in the marking and capture of animals for scientific projects. He also now would have the opportunity to do field trails with new immobilizing drugs.

During the period 1969 to 1970; 1274 Zebra and 1122 Wildebeest were culled as it had been previously decided that both population numbers should be kept at 10000 each, this number was reached by 1971.

A special aerial count was conducted during 1972 and it was conclusively proven that the Wildebeest population had declined by 40% and the Zebra by almost 30%.

Wildebeest culling was immediately stopped and that of Zebra reduced by 50%.

It was soon realised that the numbers were declining more rapidly than expected and therefore there should have been another reason.

Butch spent the greater part of 1972 completing the data analysis and writing up his Zebra thesis, “Seasonal movements, migration and age determination of Burchell’s Zebra in the Kruger National Park”, as part of his study towards his M.Sc. In Wildlife Management early 1973.

He also met his future wife Biddy (a degreed nurse) during 1972; the couple also got married in the same year. They spent the first two years in wedlock in a two bedroomed cottage along the Sabi River in the Skukuza rest Camp. It was idyllic life, biddy regularly going out with her young husband on his excursions into the bush. The city girl soon adapted to the bush life and also loved it.

Biddy assisted in lying out and proof reading his thesis, she also helped in the laboratory.

Once the family grew and she had to stay at home she was never really alone as they had had many friends from the closely knitted SKUKUZA community.

The young Mrs Smuts was later employed as nurse for the resident doctor and often had to stand in for him when he was away.


There always was excitement, a Lion may have wandered into the staff village, or a Leopard had taken someone’s pet, or Warthogs would be digging up the garden or Impala just popped in for a visit or Baboons raided the dustbin or Vervets were selecting the choice pawpaws and bananas or oranges from the garden. One early morning a pack of Wild dogs caught an Impala against their garden fence. Spotted Hyaenas would guaranteed enter through a left open gate end devour anything digestible and if not digestible just run off with it. Hippo would also mow the lawns when the opportunity arose.

Children had to be removed from the school fence while watching Lions on the other side.

The SKUKUZA staff village had a swimming pool, a squash and tennis courts, a sports field, a church, shops and an airport.

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 8:36 am 
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Butch Smuts – Part 3.


With his M.Sc. completed Butch spent much more of his time in the field. It was clear to him that many aspects of Zebra ecology was poorly understood, in fact he realised that his to date studies provided almost as many questions as answers.

To discover more about the Zebra population he focussed on their reproduction. Later analysis indicated that on average eighty percent of the adult mares were pregnant during a given year. He also found that most foals are borne during the wet summer months with a peak during December and January. He was satisfied that the Zebras were breeding successfully, many healthy foals were being produced but the numbers were still on the decline; some other reason was responsible.

The next step was to find out which age classes were being influenced most, was it foals, young Zebras or adults.

He did field counts classifying the animals according to its sex and approximate age, over period of four years nearly 5000 animals were classified.

His first finding was that there was an even sex ratio at birth. Upon reaching adulthood there were three mares to two stallions. It was later found that Lions caught mainly stallions. Stallions are inquisitive and protective towards their groups of mares and their tendency to be more aggressive than mares and to run along the flanks of a fleeing herd made them more susceptible to predation.

It was found that stallions would approach a predator and then retreat too late.

His counts started producing interesting facts – low numbers of foals relative to adult mares!

Doing counts over an extended period he soon discovered that large numbers of Zebra foals and Wildebeest calves were disappearing within a month or two after birth, either disease or predation could be the cause.

He seldomnly found dead animals or Hyaenas or Vultures feeding on dead animals – this pointed more towards predation.

Using the 1972 aerial census figures he calculated that the 9300 Zebra counted would produce a crop of 3100 foals per year, the decline in numbers then meant that more than 3100 animals would be dying each year. It now became clear that the disappearing foals were ending up inside the Lions!

He decided to aim his research towards the feline species.

Butch followed a group of twenty two Lions for two days and found that they had killed and ate two Zebras, an adult mare and one foal and three Buffalo claves – all were healthy animals caught and killed during the attack in the dark of night. The Buffalo calves were from the same herd and all were killed within the space of ten minutes, once a calf was dead or near dead the responsible Lion would select and attack the next victim, the three calves lay about fifty metres apart.

The strategy would be to move in a particular direction at a leisurely but determined pace, as soon as prey is heard, seen or smelt, a cautious crouched approach would be adopted. As soon as one Lion initiates a stalk the others first freeze and then generally follow suit.

Once the prey is within striking distance, or should they become aware of the predators and start running, the Lions would rush in, often from different directions.

Although gregarious animals such as Wildebeest, Zebra or Buffalo usually keep together in a tight herd during a disturbance, small groups or individuals may break away and scatter in the chaos. This is then of course exactly what the Lions capitalize on.

Young or old or sickly animals are slower and more vulnerable that the others and are then separated from the fleeing herd and become the victim. Multiple kills often take place in bushy areas.

Young Zebra foals seemed very vulnerable to predation, when separated from their mothers during a disturbance, they would follow the closest moving object sometimes even a vehicle or the pursuing Lion and fall victim.

The new borne foal is not yet imprinted on its mother, after a few weeks (as the brain develops) their behaviour changes remarkedly, they also become more agile and fleet of foot and predators would now start finding them more difficuilt to catch.

For the first time predators – mainly Lions were implicated as being responsible for the declining numbers of Zebra and Bluewildebeest population.

Using information on Lion density he was able to show in 1973 that areas with the greatest number of Lions also had the highest mortality rate of Zebra foals. Lions were therefore important in regulating the Zebra and Wildebeest populations, the question now was; how important?

Butch had many contacts and one of then was with computer companies, as well as computer experts, computer simulation models were dawn up after he had explained how things happened in the field, data was then supplied and captured.

The computer simulation models were a great success and by incorporating the annual culling rates of the two species it was possible to prove that the culling undertaken during 1965 definitely accelerated the decline of the populations in the Central District. Culling was not the only cause of the declines. The main cause would be the increased predation at the peak of the drought as well as during the series of higher-rainfall years following 1971.

Another university student; Bruce Bryden arrived in the Park during 1971 doing a project on Lions. He would do work looking at the Zebra-Wildebeest problem from the side of the Lions and would hopefully provide concrete data by more direct methods.

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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