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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 2:51 pm 
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Ted Whitfield Part 3.

Ted started at Klipkoppies in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK on 1 April 1970, their house was slowly refurnished, many happy years were spent at Mahlangene from 28 July 1970, Malelane from 11 January 1972, Nwanedzi 7 April 1976, Kingfisherspruit from 6 October 1977, Satara from 30 November 1977, their last twelve years in KRUGER were spent at the Houtboschrand Section from 16 April 1982.

One of the heart sore stories of the KRUGER PARK RANGERS is that of son Ernest who fell ill while the family was at Mahlangene, he was diagnosed as having leukaemia; the family was then transferred to Malelane where he could be taken to school daily. Unfortunately Ernest died on 9 June 1973, only 13 years old.

While at Nwanedzi Ted started making hunting and folding knives as a hobby, his pieces of craftsmanship soon became collectors items sought for from far and wide.

Ted together with fellow Ranger Johan van Graan from Malelane now also retired, went on a search during August 1983, on 30 August they came across an undamaged wheel of a cannon in the Crocodile River; which was part of the Artillery pieces used by Genl. Ben Viljoen during the Anglo Boer War. While travelling along the Malelane-Crocodile Bridge Road one can view a plaque indicating the spot where the wheel was found.

Ted is an expert in reloading cartridge cases; he was also involved in the developing monolithic solids with very high penetrative capabilities.

While Ted was Section Ranger at Satara he was unarmed on his way home on his scrambler, during the late afternoon from Tom Yssel the Ranger at Nwanedzi, dusk was approaching and in the light of the scrambler saw two male Lions in the road ahead, one charged and was recognised as a real troublemaker he had encountered before, the Lion came to a stop and growled angrily with a twitching tail – a sure indication that he meant business.

Ted heard a vehicle approaching – to his delight it was a tourist that had misjudged his timing. Ted indicated him to stop; fortunately he came to a stop between the scrambler and the Lions, Ted briefly told him about his predicament, in the meantime the Lions were approaching but fortunately on the other side of the vehicle, Ted made his escape using the vehicle as a shield and sped off home, needless to say a rifle clamp was fitted to Ted’s scrambler the following day..

Ted for once was quite pleased that a tourist had miscalculated his daily trip in KRUGER.

Nwashinangana meaning “the man who blows the animal horn” the nickname his Field Staff gave him due to his habit of whistling softly while walking in the veldt, retired on 1 November 1991.

The Whitfields are now spending their well earned retirement in Graskop, daughter Sharon is now Mrs. Don English the Rangers at Malelane have two children Le-Ann and Debbie, the Section Ranger at Malelane and son Steven is the Section Ranger at Satara and has two sons Timothy and Christopher ( two very keen sportsmen – it has to be in the genes).

Whenever I dial a certain telephone number in the Graskop area, Sue answers the phone and needless to say Ted is in his workshop attending to his hobby since 1995 – making crossbows.

_________________
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 01, 2009 7:27 pm 
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Very interesting. Thanks :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:17 pm 
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What a wonderful thread! Thanks :)

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Satara: 15 - 23 August
Letaba: 23 - 28 August
Satara: 28 - 29 August

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:13 pm 
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Lynn Van Rooyen Part 1.

Lynn van Rooyen grew up in the Greytown area in Natal where he attended the double medium school. His dream was to develop the first South African racing car to be crowned World Champion, Stirling Moss was his great hero, and his successes were followed with great enthusiasm.

After completing his schooling in 1963, Lynn did his National Service in the South African Air Force at the AFB Swartkops, Valhalla and Bloemfontein. After completion of his National Service he went to the Stellenbosch University to study Engineering, obviously to fulfil his childhood dream of building the racing car. Lynn enjoyed the studies but the theory soon got to him as the lectures started at the very beginning, the brake blocks of the ox wagon, he soon got bored as he was very much further advanced due to his ambition.

Lynn temporarily stopped his studies to join his father at a private nature reserve adjoining the Merensky Game Reserve in developing the crossbow and darts being used in Game Capture. The National Parks Board were one of Mr. G.L. van Rooyen’s customers. They soon recognised the 21 year old Lynn’s potential and offered him the position of Game Capturer, the offer was enthusiastically accepted.

Lynn van Rooyen started his career as Game Capturer at TSHOKWANE

Living in a caravan, catching Zebra, the then one of the very few herbivores that could be safely sold and exported from the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, due the threat of Foot and Mouth Disease to cloven hoofed animals.

Lynn enjoyed the outdoor life, holding bomas were constructed using local timber, very little equipment was available a “Shitshoka” was used for everything, when Lynn called for a Mbazo the Shanganes did not know what he was talking about – giving him the nick name of “Mbazo” – small axe. The Shitshoka was used for cutting down trees, stripping off branches, smoothing the stumps, cutting wedges and notches, driving in nails and whatever.

Lynn soon realised that this is what he really wanted to do – live in the bush and become a custodian of nature. After three years he considered returning to Stellenbosch and change his studies, this was discussed with Johan Kloppers, the doyen of most of the then Ranger Community, who supported Lynn in his thoughts. It was decided that Lynn would resign from the National Parks Board, complete his studies and then return.

Back at Stellenbosch it was quite a dramatic change as this mechanically minded man now entered a new field, he moved from the cold dead mechanical to the vibrant study of life. Lynn did not have Biology as a school subject, therefore Zoology and Botany and Geology and Chemistry and Statistics and what goes with this was new to him, a lot of extra work had to be put in, fortunately he got credits for his previous study and returned to KRUGER NATIONAL PARK with his Bsc. majoring in Zoology and Geology.

Lynn's first post as a Ranger was at Shangoni in the Northern part of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

Johan Kloppers now encouraged Lynn to do his Bsc. Honours, Lynn asked for some compassion as he had just spent a few years in lecture rooms and with books, he needed time in the veldt to cool of.

After a while Lynn went to the Pretoria University to do his Honours, he found learning about Fallow deer and other foreign animals quite different from the animals he was used to after five years in the South African bush.

Lynn returned to the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK with his Honours and was now prepared for what lay ahead.

He enjoyed life as the Northern Area of the PARK was closed to tourists in the hot rainy summer months, they had the PARK to themselves to carry out their duties unhindered, the roads were overgrown by hip high grass at the end of summer and all of this had to be rectified before the boom was lifted and the tourists arrived.

This closed season also had a few disadvantages, there were no open shops in the Camps, should you forget to buy salt during an infrequent visit to civilization, food had quite a different taste. Every thing had to be very carefully planned and fitted in when opportunities arose.

Lynn spent much time at PUNDA MARIA and also at SKUKUZA. Lynn built up much experience which he could later in his career put to good use.

Ranger Lynn van Rooyen was promoted to Manager – Wildlife Management in 1992.

Lynn van Rooyen was later transferred to Kimberley as Manager – Bio Diversity of the Northern Parks including VAALBOS, MAREKELE and MAPUNGUBWE. The development of MAPUNGUBWE was one of the highlights in his career. Here at MAREKELE while assisting in the fencing of the Park Lynn survived a Black mamba bite, indeed a very fortunate man!

Lynn got married in the church at SKUKUZA he has two sons Morne and Magnus and wife Elize has two children Henry and Liezel.

When asked if he would do it all over again this soft spoken man said for sure, he would possibly be less impetuous and more tactful, quite often a visit by some official from SKUKUZA ended in very heated arguments, he smilingly mentioned that fortunately his seniors being Johan Kloppers Dirk Ackerman and Oom Tol Pienaar did not seem to bear grudges afterwards.

Lynn seldomnly carried a firearm in the veldt, he only took it when he knew that there was danger lurking or when accompanied by someone who needed special protection. He never was a hunter; unfortunately part of his duties was to take part in culling operations, culling was essential to maintain the balance of NATURE. Lynn’s philosophy was to only intervene when man had created certain circumstances. He would for instance not destroy an old or naturally sick animal, nature had to take its cause, and predators should not be deprived of fulfilling their role in the cycle of life. Should an animal however have been injured by the action of man, a Zebra who had broken its leg while slipping on a tar road or an animal beyond recovery from snare injury it was his duty and responsibility to relieve it of its agony.

_________________
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 Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:30 pm 
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Lynn Van Rooyen Part 2.

A very sad day arrived when tourists reported an old tusker that seemed to move with great difficulty. Lynn was tasked to investigate the situation, the condition of the old Elephant bull was discussed, his one foreleg was badly swollen, and he had a bullet wound in his knee. The veterinarian staff confirmed that the damage was irreversible and it would be better of old KAMBAKU be relieved of his agony. Lynn did what was best for this old monarch – KAMBAKU’s tusks can be viewed at the Elephant Hall at the LETABA Rest Camp in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK. During an autopsy a .303 bullet was found imbedded in the joint of the damaged knee, most probably the result of one his excursions into the agricultural lands bordering the PARK.

Lynn joins the late Col. Stevenson Hamilton in saying that exploitation disguised as scientific research should never be allowed.

He mentioned that in the seventies there was a lot of so called “scientific research” taking place in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, Lynn then stationed at PUNDA MARIA; being a qualified Geologist very soon realised that these people (the then Iscor) were prospecting for coke used in the manufacture of steel. The core drills were all over the place and would drill just until they reached the coke deposit, not as scientific researchers would have done – drill down to a pre determined depth. This coke deposit stretches up to and beyond the Vhembe area close to the MAPUNGUBWE NATIONAL PARK where the Limpopo and the Shashe Rivers meet, separating SOUTH AFRICA,, BOTSWANA and ZIMBABWE.

There was lot of political pressure to continue fortunately Mr. Rupert Lorimar a Member of Parliament raised the matter and after an investigation, it was decided that Iscor get their coke elsewhere, this gave birth to the Tshikondeni Coke Mine at the Pafuri Gate to the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

Many heated arguments were had, especially when so called authorities tried to convince him about what the financial benefits to the country by mining coke in the KNP in the area between the Levhuvu and the Shingwedzi Rivers, they even said that they would restore the area to its previous pristine condition.

How could these people even think that what they were trying to do was justifiable to the public of this country – destroying this last piece of wilderness where Elephants and Crocodiles and Kudu and Hippo and Impala and Giraffe and Lions and Leopards and so many different species Birds and Shrubs and Trees as CREATED. How would anyone be able to justify this to the future generations.

Sentiment and Institution has no values to these types of people.

Environmental Impact Assessments were discussed, the assessment is done and certain aspects are pointed out and recommendations are made upon which decisions are made, unfortunately the assessors are also paid to do a job and sometimes less emphasis is placed on certain important aspects than required and then market powers are then take their cause.

Everything will change but development should never be at the expense of the environment. Recycling is today a big issue, we should live in such a way that it would not be necessary to recycle.

Man has place in Nature but should take care of what has become his responsibility.

SANPARKS should manage the heritage and the Government should assist in the funding of their function.

Lynn tells the story of Simeon Mudjovu a Field Ranger. While working at TSHOKWANE he received a message that Simeon had been attacked by a Lion and was quite seriously injured. He set off to where Simeon was and fetched him to TSHOKWANE; he called for the SANPARKS helicopter to evacuate the injured man to the Nelspruit hospital. Later Lynn went to visit Simeon who was recovering in hospital; he took his transistor radio with and lent it to his friend. About a month later Simeon was discharged from hospital and upon reporting for duty handed a brown paper bag to Lynn, inside was two cokes and a packet of Marie biscuits, Lynn turned his head away to wipe something from his eyes . . . . .

He concluded this story by telling that in a later discussion with Simeon; when asked why he did not shoot the Lion, Simeon replied that he used his axe, Lynn asked what did he do and was told that he used the back end of the axe to shy off the Lion, Lynn asked why the back end and not the sharp end, the reply – he did not want to injure the animal . . . . .

The attitude and care and dedication of the Rangers are illustrated by the above incident.

Lynn mentioned that the impression he has is that today’s Field Rangers are trained in a more Military fashion, as it is required by the current situation. They seem to have more of a Military Pride than those of his time, not criitsizing the current system at all.

Rangers were on duty 24 hours per day for seven days per week and the working day was ended when the job was done, fighting a veldt fire sometimes kept on for days and no one would even think of stopping before the task was completed.

The soft spoken humble Lynn van Rooyen retired from the SANPARKS employ in 2006.

While Lynn and Elize and Lanette and myself were chatting his two dogs were laying close by, seemingly also listening to and watching us, the three tame wild cats would enjoy chasing one another up and down the trees in the garden, when tired, they would join our company and after a while then disappear through the open window of their neat home in a Private Nature Reserve near the Roodeplaat Dam. The Grey Louries hopping around in the Ghwarrie bushes and the twitter of the finches and sparrows and the waxbills at the feeding tray would remind us that these two people care.

When asked which was their favourite camp in the KNP the reply was “there were is no camp, in a caravan under a Marula tree is the most enjoyable”.

Lynn became quite emotional when he told me that Louis Olivier recently contacted him and asked for permission to name one of the next generation of upcoming tuskers “Mbazo”, the beast has already been identified and Lynn van Rooyen retired Ranger of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK regards this gesture of goodwill one of the greatest honours that could have been bestowed upon him.

Upon leaving I could not miss noticing the gentleman Lynn van Rooyen opening and shutting the vehicle door for Lanette . . . . . .

_________________
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 Nov 23, 2009 12:35 pm 
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I read and was happy .

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KNP is sacred. I am opposed to the modernisation of Kruger and from the depths of my soul long for the Kruger of yesteryear! 1000+km on foot in KNP incl 56 wild trails.200+ nights in the wildernessndloti-indigenous name for serval.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:12 pm 
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:thumbs_up: Wonderful history you are capturing! :clap:

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Want to know more about the SANParks Honorary Rangers? Visit www.sanparkshr.org


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:56 pm 
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Douw Swanepoel.

Swannie as he was more popular known joined the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK staff during 1982. He was for the first four years of his service involved with the training of field staff.

Swannie was known as “Mandhevhu” by his black staff; Mandhevhu = beard.

The big man with the red beard became a Trails Ranger in 1983 and settled as Section Ranger at the beautiful Mooiplaas post near the Mopani Rest Camp, end of 1983. He also served at the Kingfisherspruit post near the Orpen Rest Camp from where he was transferred to the Olifants post where he spent the rest of his career until 2001.

Swannie was an expert on the Nile Crocodile, his MSc thesis was aptly: The ecology of the Nile Crocodile in the Olifants River, KNP, he graduated in 1999. Many a TV viewer may still remember this burley Ranger in programmes depicting Nile Crocodiles. Swannie was invited to join the UICN Species Survival Group on Crocodiles, one of only two South Africans.

Swannie was very computer literate and taught all the Rangers; basic computer literacy after the Honorary Rangers donated a PC to each Ranger during 2000.

Swannie was also the founder of the Cyber Tracker system used by KNP Conservation Services in tracking game animals. He is remembered for his acquiring the palmtop hardware, trained and motivated the field staff in its use, making them the world leaders in this application.

Douw Swanepoel was declared redundant in 2001, during Operation Prevail, and with a sad heart left the employ of SANPARKS after 19 years, he said that those were the best of his life.

After leaving the SANPARKS service, Swannie assisted in the translocation of the first Elephants into the Limpopo National Park.

Swannie received the Phalaborwa Chamber of Commerce “Newsmaker of the Year” award at the end of 2005.

Swannie settled in Phalaborwa with his family Louisa and children Wessel and Jirah-Mari, where he also was instrumental to guides to different areas amongst other the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, where his time came on 11th September 2007, after suffering from cancer for many years.

Should you remember watching a tusker with a large left and a slightly shorter right tusk with a little hole in the left ear lobe and a vee shaped notch in the same, with a slightly stiff rear leg. Roaming the Shingwedzi to Mooiplaas flats of the KRUGER NATIONAL; you may have been watching Mandhevhu, the bull in which the name of this big bearded man who loved the bush and its creatures, lived on in the area where his tracks were left behind in the fine hot dust of AFRICA .

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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 Nov 23, 2009 4:47 pm 
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Thank you for that.

Indeed, I do think that you have made the most valuable postings.

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 4:51 pm 
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Another great thread GMLSmit. Thanks for all the effort. Much appreciated-------------


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:49 pm 
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Louis Olivier Part 1.

More than 40 years ago, Louis Olivier, one of the Kruger National Park’s much-loved and esteemed game rangers and an enthusiastic Blue Bulls supporter, reluctantly applied for a position in the Park. He wanted to return to the University of Pretoria to complete his studies, but, “my parents persuaded me to apply for a position, and here I have been for most of my life, probably to a large degree because parents know their children best.”

At the time he worked for the former Eastern Transvaal Department of Roads and lived in White River.

He reported for work on February 3, 1969, neatly dressed in khaki uniform, with kudu-head epaulets on both shoulders pointing down the wrong way which was quickly rectified by the Park Warden, Mr Dolf Brynard, at the time.

Louis was born in Polokwane and attended several schools from Dendron, to Bedford (Mariepskop) then matriculating at Ben Vorster in Tzaneen.

His first assignment when he joined the Park was to recover the carcasses from the Park’s animal control programme through culling. Big game, such as elephant and buffalo, blue wildebeest, zebra and hippo was culled during the day, while impala, and was mostly shot at night. “Sometimes a team of us would harvest 200 impala in a night,” he said.

“In time we grew wiser and realized Mother Nature has her own way of dealing with animal overpopulation in most animal species – mainly through diseases, droughts and predators etc. Culling of all species, except elephant, was therefore stopped. Elephant culling came eventually to an end some 15 years ago through outside interference and politics.

In 1972 he became a game capturer and “this time I used life and not death in a management effort to control animal numbers. It was one of the biggest positive adjustments in my life,” he said.

He was transferred to Tshokwane, where as a bachelor, he enjoyed settling into his role as ranger/game capturer. It was here where Louis one day while on patrol along the Nwasontsontso, got an unexpected shower. He saw an old Elephant bull slaking its thirst from the cool waters. Louis stopped and took a photograph. The old beast kept on drinking and slowly started moving through the water in Louis’ direction The Ranger was watching from the about 3 meters high bank with the beast seemingly unaware of his presence, approaching slowly. Close to the Ranger the old bull once again filled its trunk and within an instance straightened it, took aim and cooled off the Ranger with many litres of cool Nwasontsontso water. Louis was drenched, and smiled after he had regained his breath with his vocabulary exhausted.

Louis also remembers the day when he was part of the culling team mentioned by Fanie Botha in an earlier post, he escaped up a three meter Mopani tree. He casually remarks that he could smell the close passing Elephants he reckons he could possibly touch them while passing both sides of the Mopani with its occupant. he didn’t. Apparently Louis had difficulty afterwards in lighting his cigarette.

He also enjoys fishing. Being a bachelor Louis also had a bit more leisure time available than married men. A fishing excursion was arranged in the Sabie River by Louis and a few other friends, including Hans Kolver a Park pilot,

The agreed date 21 November 1976 eventually arrived and the rest and recreation started. While Tom Yssel was wading through the shallows to a sandy island, a four metre long Crocodile attacked him and dragged him into deeper water. Louis who was close by saw what had happened and immediately jumped into the water to assist his friend Tom, Hans also jumped to help; they attacked the Crocodile and tried to force it to the river bank. The Crocodile often let go of its prey in the 1.5 metre deep water, but immediately grabbed hold of the unfortunate Tom Yssel. Louis was trying to keep Tom’s head above the water while Hans got onto the reptiles back, trying to force his fingers into its eyes. Hans was repeatedly thrown off. Eventually the reptile let go of Tom and grabbed Hans by both arms and dragged him underwater. Louis in the meantime got a knife from one of the bystanders; he jumped onto the back of the monster and plunged the knife into one of the reptile’s eyes. The Crocodile then immediately released its prey and disappeared into the depths of the flowing Sabie River.

On 8 September 1978 the Wolraad Woltemade Decoration (Silver) for Bravery was awarded to Louis Pieter Olivier and Johannes Petrus Kolver.

In the early days, Louis was a very active member of the RAMKAMP – fraternity – the bachelors single quarters strictly managed by the then Head Ranger – Oom Don Lowe – the man without a neck an arm wrestler par excellence, he had to be one with this lot.

Here was plenty of good company and many very good friends, who would eagerly assist in any effort to combat boredom, ending in a great lot of fun. Sunday mornings were known as recovery time and the late afternoon after a braai and some liquid refreshment was often spent in the shade of a tree, the rooms were 4 x 3 metres luxuriously furnished by a steel fold up bed, maybe a table and a chair and a built in clothes cupboard each room had one little window – it was very inside and the occupants normally turned in quite late.

One of the many tales told bout Louis with a blink in the eye is of the night he punched an intruder in his room- Louis was out, enjoying himself. His bored friends decided the time was opportune to pull the well pre planned prank.

Some of his friends a few days earlier collected a tree stump, approximately man size and hauled it into the room of Mr. Olivier one late Saturday afternoon and erected it in front of the cupboard in Louis’ room, to add authenticity to the figure a mapoisa hat finished off the dress.

The “friends” all congregated under the tree together with the unsuspecting young Louis. Time went by, the sun set and it grew darker. Later the unsuspecting Louis decided that it was bedtime he went on his “Stargazing routine” and went to his room.

Upon entering his dark room, he saw a human figure at his clothes cupboard and tackled it and punched it, all in one movement. Louis nearly broke his fist who wouldn’t after punching a lead wood tree stump, being suspect of breaking into ones clothes cupboard, trying to rid one of one’s meagre possessions. After the expectant expletives had come to an end, laughter from outside broke out. Louis never discovered who the actual pranksters were; no one would split, if you see the size of Louis Olivier you would clearly understand why.

_________________
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 Nov 24, 2009 8:12 am 
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Louis Olivier Part 2.

Louis married Trix, a communications graduate from Bloemfontein, on New Year’s Day in 1977, six weeks after an extraordinary and unforgettable day when Louis and Hans Kolver wrestled and fought a colossal crocodile in the Sabie River near Skukuza to save the life of friend and colleague Tom Yssel. Both received the National Wolraad Woltemade Award for Bravery for their amazing feat on that day. At that time, it was only the second time in the history of the country that the medal had been awarded.

Shortly after his marriage, the Park transferred Louis to Shingwedzi. After a mere two years they were moved to Punda Maria where Benneli, the Olivier’s daughter, was born.

While there he was nearly shot at very close range by a drunken neighbouring community member while doing month-end duty on the western boundary. He tackled the shooter bare handed, disarmed and arrested the scoundrel.

Still at Punda Maria Louis and some colleagues followed and shot a maimed lion close to the camp which had killed and partly devoured a colleague from the Technical Services department.

Another incident worth mentioning was while Louis, Trix and Benneli were on a vehicle patrol near the Mozambican border, they saw some armed poachers. Louis jumped from the vehicle and confronted them after having moved away from the vehicle as not to draw fire onto his family. Some shooting followed. While following the fleeing men Louis tripped and sprained his ankle. He shouted at Trix who came rushing to his aid with the Land Cruiser. He jumped on the back and directed her onwards. As a team they apprehended two of the poachers who were later heavily sentenced in court.

Four years later, the Oliviers were transferred to Crocodile Bridge where their son Derik was born.

While at Croc Bridge; Louis received the SANParks Kruger Cross for Bravery together with two Field Rangers when they tackled Mozambican gun smugglers bare handed during which incident they were shot at without warning.

Another four years later they moved to Skukuza where they stayed for two years before Louis returned to Shingwedzi, promoted to Regional Ranger, where they stayed for 10 years.

During the 2000 Operation Prevail Programme, the transformation process within the Park, Louis was transferred to Letaba Camp where he spent about two years. At the beginning of 2004 Louis and his family moved to Phalaborwa.

2004 was an exceptional year for Louis. Almost 40 years after he gave up his BSc studies at UP, he completed a Masters degree in Nature Conservation at the Tshwane University of Technology. What makes it more special is that his graduation coincided with that of Benneli.

Louis has embraced transformation in the Park. His nickname, ‘Oom Louis’, as he is now fondly known by most staff, has all but replaced his Tsonga name, Mandleve, meaning ‘Big ears’- a name he shares with one of Kruger’s best known big elephants. The tusks of Mandleve are displayed in the Elephant Museum at Letaba camp.

Louis is an inspiration and motivation to many rangers, guides and other staff in the Park. Many tourists can attest to the big, friendly man who has explained the ordinary and shown them the extraordinary to turn their visit into an exceptional experience.

Apart from his close encounter with the crocodile, Louis has had a number of near misses and quite a few hits. Amongst others, he has been bitten by a puff adder, nibbled on by a zebra high on the inner upper thigh and clung on to a run-away buffalo during a capture operation. He survived being pinned down by a huge burning tree. He suffered serious injuries to his back and foot and spent quite some time in hospital.

One Sunday afternoon Louis got a message that the guide at the Hippo pool near Crocodile Bridge was being harassed by a Buffalo; Louis gathered four of his Rangers and set off to investigate; arriving at the scene the group split into two and went to investigate. A dark shape in the thick reed growth was indicated, all of a sudden the reeds became alive and parted what followed was 800 kg of angry charging Buffalo flesh, with head held high and the gnarled horns ready to kill everything in its way.

The Ranger aimed his .375 magnum and fired two shots, both having no effect on the charging colossus. He pulled off the trigger a third time, nothing happened, the round did not enter the rifle chamber. Louis held his rifle as protection between himself and the charging beast, moments before impact a .303 shot sounded from the rifle of Ranger Samuel Mathubela, the Buffalo swerved away and disappeared into the reeds. The lore of fix your own mess flashed through Louis’ mind and he instructed Samuel to remain behind as he entered the reed thicket, he soon came across the dark rear end of Buffalo, it turned around and charged, this time the round was in the chamber and the bullet went true. Afterwards on inspection it was found that the poor animal carried a wound from a heavy calibre rifle in its head and also in one of its hind legs – most probably the result of a visit outside the Park. Had it had not been for the shot from Samuel, I would not have had the opportunity to interview Louis Olivier.

Louis Olivier is now the Regional Ranger in the southern district of the Northern Area (Xananetsani South Area) of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, where he is mentor of many. Maybe you may come across this big friendly fellow dressed in neat khakis wearing “the badge” on his broad chest, if you do stop and have a chat and maybe share a laugh.

Louis has spent his adult life in Kruger. He knows its history and has even contributed to chunks of it. He has welcomed people and bid friends farewell in this remarkable part of the world. His, as many others, is an exceptional story of 40 years in service to his Lord, his family and his dearly loved Park.

_________________
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 Nov 24, 2009 1:18 pm 
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Zirk Kruger.

Zirk Kruger was the Manager Mechanical Workshops in the Kruger National Park; he retired from the S A NATIONAL PARKS service during 2001 after 30 years service except for 2 years at Tsitsikamma all was spent in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

Zirk who whore a beard was aptly called Madeve – “voice in the bush” by his staff.

His predecessor was Jan van Achtenberg where Zirk started as an artisan in 1972; he was paid a monthly salary of R210.00 per month.

Being involved in the workshops of a large organization as the National Parks at a place called SKUKUZA was quite eventful as life was tough and equipment was exposed to much more wear and tear than in a city, to keep the wheels turning required much ingenuity, resourcefulness and cooperation from all.

During the culling season there was a lot to repair, animals were culled during the day, normally early afternoon and then transported to the abattoir at SKUKUZA during the cool of the night. Many accidents occurred and broken down vehicles had to be promptly repaired, to avoid the flesh of the culled animals being spoilt. Members of the Veterinarian staff inspected all meat prior to processing. Spoilt meat was buried in the veldt.

Three large lorries were full time allocated to transport culled Elephant and Buffalo carcasses from the Satara and Letaba area to the abattoir.

The National Parks Board built the roads up to the Letaba River while the Transvaal Roads Department undertook to build and maintain the roads between the Letaba and the Levhuvu Rivers.

The short wave radios were always close by and whenever a call was made, all who were able to assist scrambled and helped, no one waited for another to go.

Zirk mentioned that no matter who you were, the Warden, the Game Capture Team members, the Scientists, the Fitters or the Mechanics, or the Pilots or the Engineers or the Storemen or the Tourist Officers or the Shop Staff or the Petrol Attendants or the Caretaker of a lonely picnic spot, all had one thing in common, in their hearts they were all NATURE CONSERVATORS, although there was not much financial reward, they got tremendous job satisfaction and spiritual reward. Everyone just seemed to be too willing to make the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK the best place on earth.

Zirk told about how Hippos were culled or darted for capture and translocation. The “other people” – the Field, Veterinarian and Scientific staff would plan the task and Technical Services would assist also allocating drivers.

The strategy was that Hippos would be identified and then chased from the water, using a grader.

A group of Hippos were identified in a deep pool of the Sabie River and all set out on their allocated duties. A Hippo was darted and it disappeared into the pool, fearing it drowning, the grader driver was promptly told to drive into the river to recover the stricken animal, no one was aware of the actual depth of the pool and the grader disappeared into the deep waters, fortunately the driver escaped unharmed.

Hennie Carlson previously mentioned had to dive into the pool with a heavy chain and tie it to the sunken grader, eventually the chain was tied and the grader recovered. Jan van Achtenberg then decreed that none of his graders would be used as recklessly as this in future.

Zirk really is a hive of interesting stories.

He tells of once when something went wrong in the electronics of a road grader, near Lower Sabie on a dirt road. Zirk sent out the technician – Nico van Niekerk with his assistant Sam to attend to the stricken grader.

Nico was quite a big man with a small heart who spoke a lot.

Nico parked their bakkie about fifty meters from the grader and him and Sam went off to the grader which was parked a little distance from the road.

The electronics of the road grader were underneath the floor boards of the cab. The floor boards were stripped and Nico was now working on the intricacies – standing feet on the ground while Sam rendered assistance as required, passing on tools and fetching from the bakkie as required.

Nico heard a rumbling sound and as they had left very early the morning, long before breakfast time imagined it was the stomach of Sam that was rumbling. Sam was asked whether he was hungry and replied that it was not the case, however the rumbling continued. A little while later Nico told Sam to fetch some tool from the bakkie and also to have a bite to eat as his stomach was still rumbling.

Sam left and did not return, Nico called and told Sam to hurry up. No one hurried up. The rumbling continued, eventually Nico got down and called to Sam who was now sitting wide eyed in the bakkie with the windows wound up. Nico shouted at Sam to hurry up, eventually a window of the bakkie was wound down a little and Sam yelled something inaudible, Nico called again and from the sounds coming from the bakkie made out the following – “look behind the front wheel”. He looked behind the front wheel, and there was a Lioness lying in the shade of the grader purring – source of the rumbling sound mistaken for that of an empty stomach.

Needless to say Nico disappeared into the grader cab post haste and spent most of the day there, in the blazing heat while the Lioness was taking an early morning siesta just moving along in the shade of the grader together in coordination with the sun on its daily travel towards the west.

While the construction team was building the Piet Grobler Dam in the Timbavati Area, they as usually built camp where they used to enjoy the cool of the evening around a fire, sharing the day’s experiences and spending a few yarns.

The dam builders heard something in the surrounding bush, they soon realised that it was a royal family, more logs were added to the fire and pairs of little red lights from the dark reflected the glow of the flames. The group eventually decided it would be safer in their tents than here n the open.

Hardly in the tents, the royal group came to inspect the camp site and made themselves at home and very comfortable. There was a lot of yawning and purring and grunting and sometimes a snarl, eventually they road makers heard a clattering sound and the family disappeared with the clattering sound continuing and eventually stopping.

The following morning the dam builders scrutinised their camp site and when found safe enough, went out and found that water bucket was missing. It was eventually found far off in the bush, they suspected that a Lion may have gone for a drink of water and stuck its head into the bucket and got stuck, the animal then carried it of and must have bumped into a few trees along its way, judging from the few fresh dents in the bucket.

Zirk tells of the SKUKUZA children who seemed to have no fear of Lions.

One morning during 1972, the children went off to school, early as usual, one of the parents on his way to work noticed the children standing at the fence and peering into the school area. He drove closer and enquired what was going on and was casually told that there were Lions in the School Grounds and they thought it safer not to enter. Getting out he noticed the Lions stretched out on the play grounds, fortunately the gate was closed. The children were removed and of the conservation staff called to remove the four legged pupils. The two legged pupils quite enjoyed the day with the school starting a bit later than usual.

One Sunday afternoon Zirk and wife Annemarie went for a late afternoon stroll along the SKUKUZA golf course. They noticed their children Yvette and Emiël with many others playing on the edge of the course, and decided to go and see what they were up to. They got to the children and watched a little while and then they noticed some golden bodies not fifty yards away, they realised LIONS, the children were called together and told to go home, on reply to their question why this interruption to their fun, they were told about the LIONS, the rather annoyed reaction was that the LIONS had been there all afternoon and no one was bothering anyone, all was OK until now this interference.

Fortunately the children were very wary of Buffalo and Elephants – one less concern for the parents.

Zirk tells the story of how he one day impressed Ranger Ampie Espag, while working in the Satara area. Oom Ampie asked him to join him as he was on his way to shoot something as rations for his staff. Zirk eagerly joined and the two set off.

While travelling along a firebreak Oom Ampie saw some Impala and requested Zirk to take a shot. Zirk hesitantly took the rifle and aimed and fired. The group of Impala disappeared and Zirk realised he had missed.

All of a sudden the two Field Rangers on the back of the back of the bakkie jumped off and opened Zirk’s door and shook his hand indicating that he was marksman par excellence, Zirk did not say anything – he was too embarrassed.

The two Rangers asked Zirk to join them, they walked off and two hundred and fifty metres further they found a huge Impala ram dead in it’s tracks – shot through the neck as only expert marksmen can. Zirk never told them that he had been aiming at an Impala that was grazing much closer and missed it completely.

Zirk tells that during 1976 all were very concerned about a possible terrorist attacks. One evening about 21:00 while he was busy in his home workshop he heard a noise on the roof and saw the corrugated iron give a little as the source of the noise moved on. He carefully went to the door and peered out into the dark and saw nothing.

The noise stopped and he stealthily left the workshop and made for the kitchen door, the night was not very restful, following morning he went outside and found large Leopard paw marks in the garden.

Zirk mentioned that he would often hear the Leopard on the workshop roof, it was then chased off by hammering a broom against the roof, it would then jump off and go elsewhere.

This Leopard spent many nights in the Kruger garden either in their rockery or on the reed pergola for more than a year.

This Leopard caught 76 domestic cats in the staff village at SKUKUZA within a period of twelve months.

Zirk tells that Casper Visser and his wife had two domestic cats. Each evening Mrs. Visser would put out two saucers of milk for them outside on the veranda. One evening she again put out the milk with the two cats in attendance, as she turned she heard a noise and saw a Leopard disappear into the dark; both cats had disappeared and were never seen again.

Zirk also told of a visit to his in laws in the Cape, one evening something was heard walking on the house roof, his experience with Leopards at SKUKUZA immediately sprang to mind, father in law was quite surprised at the reaction of his daughter and her husband from the KRUGER PARK . . . . . .

Times in the staff village at SKUKUZA were good, they were a close little community who cared and shared.

Electricity was available from 06:00 to 21:00, resulting in peace and quiet settling after the generators had been switched off.

Fresh bread was available once a week.

Much time was spent with the family and with neighbours and other friends. Zirk mentioned that his neighbour was Oom Don Lowe, this contributed to much peace and quiet in their area. Oom Don never lost any arm wrestling match at the Boeresport often held at the Church Hall.

The SKUKUZA Primary School catered for Grade 1 to Grade 5. Miss. Nicky Schoeman the school teacher taught up to three grades in one class.

Members of the SKUKUZA Community took turns to pick up and fetch the surplus children to the White River Primary School, Mrs. Henriette Botha, wife of Doctor Botha at SKUKUZA played a leading roll in this activity.

Mrs. Oelofse the wife of Deon one of the SKUKUZA staff was expecting a baby, when the time came, the two set off with Doctor Johan Botha, to the Nelspruit Hospital more than 100 km away. Not many Marula trees away, the time came, Deon parked under a Marula tree and healthy twins were born next to the H1-1, 5 km from SKUKUZA, under a Marula tree.

Zirk mentioned that a team went out twice a month to collect any litter along the roads; he remarked that never was as much litter collected then as is now visible while driving along the roads of KRUGER PARK – people seemed to have had more respect for nature then.

Zirk and Annemarie Kruger retired to Struisbaai in the Western Cape, where he was for a long period involved with the Management of the Aghulas National Park.

Zirk mentioned that he is a very happily retired man, he has very fond memories of that wonderful place and the Kuschkes, and the van Achtenbergs, and the Bothas and the Lowes and the Minnies and the de Vos’ and the . . . . . . . . . , where they could laugh and joke and share and mourn, where their children could grow up together, as if on a farm . . . . . . .

_________________
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 26, 2009 1:32 pm 
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Dr. VALERIUS DE VOS.

Valerius de Vos was born in Manzini Swaziland 6 weeks before the start of the World War II.

He got married during February 1964 and the de Vos family were blessed with two children.

Vossie as he is known by his friends did his Military Service at the SAMS and served as a 1st Lieut.

He is a keen sportsman he played Rugby, Cricket, Tennis, he completed 10 Comrades Marathons successfully, he achieved Provincial Colours in Biathlon and Triathlon, he swam the Midmar Mile and was also a keen cyclist.

Vossie Matriculated at the Hoërskool Carolina at the end of 1956. He was accepted as a student at the Faculty of Veterinary Science of the University of Pretoria (TUKS) where he graduated BVSc. End 1961. He was also a student of the Eugene Marais Chair of Wildlife Management where he attained his BSc (Hons) Wildl. Mgmt. in 1965.

Dr. de Vos was appointed the State Veterinarian at Calvinia in the Karoo where he gained a lot of experience on clinical and State Veterinary matters – an area reaching from Beaufort West up to the Orange River – an area larger than the Orange Free State.

Dr. de Vos was then posted at the Tsumeb-Grootfontein Area in the then South-West Africa as State Vetrinarian, foot-and- mouth service, near Etosha National park – this most probably had the greatest influence on him, for later joining the South African National Parks Board a little later.

After his stint near Etosha he was transferred to more familiar grounds being Ermelo, where he together wit other state veterinary activities handled a rabies outbreak, here he also established a regional laboratory service.

Vossie then joined became State Veterinarian, Bacteriology Section Veterinary Institute at Onderstepoort where he worked under Prof. van Drimmelen on brucellosis vibriosis and leptspirosis. Here he becam restless and longed for the outdoors. He was one day paging through the African Wildlufe Journal and came across an advert about a course in ecology at TUKS. He decided to enter this course and make a career switch to wildlife – something he never regretted.

He became a fulltime student at the Eugene Marais Chair for Wildlife Management at TUKS, studying for BSc (Hons) Wildlife Management. The course was led by the noted expert in ecology Prof Petrides from the USA.

His opportunity came when he was appointed State Veterinarian based at SKUKUZA in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, where the work was mainly regulatory and provided the opportunity to acquire hands on experience on foot and mouth disease anthrax and brucellosis.

The young State Veterinarian had quite a tough time as at that stage there was much mistrust between Veterinarian Field Services and the Nature Conservation Departments. Vossie had experience in both disciplines and gradually moved away from regulatory work to a more veterinary ecological approach. The Veterinary Field Services did not approve of this and recommended a transfer back to the Veterinary Research Institute at Onderstepoort. He worked at SKUKUZA during the period 1967 to 1974.

Back at Onderstepoort Vossie worked under Dr. CM Cameron where opportunity and lab space was allocated to do invaluable research on Anthrax. The National Parks Board in the meantime created a post for a “Veterinary Ecologist” based in the Kruger National Park. The net result after three month at Onderstepoort Vossie was back where he felt he belonged – the Kruger National Park.

Vossie served as Veterinary Ecologist National Parks Board at SKUKUZA, KRUGER NATIONAL PARK for the period 1974 – 1979, where he had the opportunity to do pioneering work on the study of Wildlife Diseases, especially anthrax, brucellosis and foot and mouth disease and tuberculosis. He also did baseline work parasitology, control of free ranging wildlife diseases, vaccination procedures for free ranging animals, game culling procedures and aspects of physiology. He also did a lot of work on game catching and game translocation. The barriers of miss-trust earlier mentioned were starting to crumble and soon mutual trust developed which was indirectly responsible for his next career phase.

Dr. Valerius de Vos became the Head of research National Parks Board, based at SKUKUZA, Kruger National Park in 1979, a position he held and enjoyed until 1996. Here he headed 20 Biologists, 1 Veterinarian, 12 Biotechnicians and 30 lay staff members in eight National Parks. In addition a total of 157 outside researchers were recruited during 1994.

The following is an example of the scope of work: Registered research projects amounted to 150 during 1994. This research effort also generated 127 scientific publications, 4 dissertations and 3 books during 1995. Part time attention was also given to veterinary research projects, such as the ecology of anthrax and remote vaccination procedures.

Dr. V de Vos was awarded a specialist scientist post on a personal scale where he served during the period 1996 to 2001. This was to provide opportunity to write up research which accumulated due to excessive administrative workload during 1979-96.

Vossie became a Macadamia farmer in the Nelspruit district after his retirement from SANPARKS in June 2001.

He is still actively involved with anthrax research in the Kruger National park and the Northern Cape Province. He also consults on veterinary ecology and infectious diseases. Much time is also spent on writing up research data for publication purposes.

During his tenure in the Kruger National Park Drs. V de Vos and Feltus Brand Director of the National Zoo in Pretoria were sent to the Ivory Coast in an advisory capacity to the Government. Advice was given on Elephant Management, Zoo Administration and General Nature Conservation Procedures during April 1979.

He was also sent to Marion Island to advise on the extermination of domestic cats which were destroying the natural wildlife on the island.

Dr. de Vos was also a member of the WHO delegation to Zambia to give advice on anthrax epidemiology and control during an anthrax epidemy in the Mongu District during 1992.

He also visited Lesotho and Italy as an invited consultant to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations to direct strategies on Anthrax in Lesotho during 1995.

He visited Winchester, England during 1995, as part of a World Health Organization (WHO) panel to formulate guidelines for the surveillance and control of anthrax in humans and animals (1995).

He as recently as 24-28 October, 2005 was a member of Wildlife Anthrax Workshop Working Group to draw up guidelines for the “preparedness for anthrax epizootics in wildlife areas”. Malilangwe Trust, Chiredzi, Zimbabwe.

He was invited by the Department of Veterinary Services to do research and provide advice on an anthrax epidemic in the Northern Cape Province during 2008 and 2009.

He also advised 35 television programs on aspects of nature conservation and veterinary ecology.

He also took part in very many television and radio interviews on aspects of nature conservation and veterinary ecology.

Dr. Valerius de Vos is today still a member of the following Professional Societies.

Registered as a veterinarian with the South African Veterinary Board.

Member of the South African Veterinary Association.

Honorary member of the Wildlife Group of the South African Veterinary Association.

Member of the African Division of Wildlife Disease Association.

Committee member of the South African Veterinary Association History Committee.

Founder member of the World Association of Wildlife Veterinarians (WAWV).

Dr. V Vos has acclaimed many recognitions and awards some were :

1.Paracooperia devossi n. sp. named after Dr V de Vos of the Kruger National Park “in recognition of his efforts for furthering the study of the parasites of wild animals in this country” Boomker, J. and Shirley A. Kingsley 1984. Paracooperia devossi n. sp. (Nematoda: Trichostrongylidae) from the bushbuck, Tragelaphus scriptus (Pallas, 1766). Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research 51: 21-24.

2.Awarded Research Fellowship of NOAHS Centre during 1991. “NOAHS” stands for “New Opportunities in Animal Health” and is associated with the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C., U.S.A. The following is part of the address: “Because of your important contributions to the progress of NOAHS Centre research, we are pleased to recognize your contribution by inviting you to become a Research Fellow of NOAHS Centre. The title acknowledges your prior and active collaboration with our staff in the various research endeavors that we support”.

3.Awarded the Silver Medal of the South African Veterinary Association for outstanding service to veterinary science in South Africa, 20th September 1991.

4.Nominated and accepted by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) as a Wildlife Disease Consultant. 1994.

5.Invited as a member of the World Organization (WHO) Working Group on Anthrax Control and Research. 1992 and again in 1995.

6.Awarded an honorary professorship by the University of Pretoria, Department of Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science. 1992-1996 and again in 2007 until currently.

7.Appointed as consultant to the Food and Agricultural Association (FAO) of the United Nations on anthrax. 1995.

8.Received the “Lycaon Award” of the Wildlife Group of the South African Veterinary Association “In recognition of an outstanding contribution to wildlife conservation and ecology”. 25 July 2002.

To date Dr. de Vos has published a total of 172 scientific articles with and without co-workers, and an additional 12 are in manuscript form, and very many more are envisaged.

He can still remember many fascinating stories about what happened during game capture and culling operations, some of them tell of hair raising close shaves. Being chased by Elephants and Buffalo and some angry predators who were not reacting as they were supposed tohave , while under unaesthetic. It is therefore quite understandable that Vossie was a good sportsman as he had excellent motivation, to run, jump, climb, catch and swim as part of his career.

His most sad experiences were when there was the most feared of all; an ANTHRAX outbreak.

Louis Olivier can also tell of how this Veterinarian treated him in Malawi when his head received a nasty gash – no stitches – apparently just a glass filled with some Scottish instant cure, he ends by saying after all the man has been trained to treat wild animals.

The above is some detail about this remarkable man and illustrates the caliber of people involved in the care and protection of our Wildlife Heritage.

_________________
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 26, 2009 6:02 pm 
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Thank you for another interesting chapter !

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KNP is sacred. I am opposed to the modernisation of Kruger and from the depths of my soul long for the Kruger of yesteryear! 1000+km on foot in KNP incl 56 wild trails.200+ nights in the wildernessndloti-indigenous name for serval.


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