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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 3:24 pm 
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ANOTHER EFFORT TO KEEP THE GAME RESERVE ALIVE

Some proof of how hard the Warden tried to keep the Sabie Game Reserve going is that when the Steinackers Horse were demobilized, he came upon the idea to do the border control on behalf of the Department of Customs.

He contacted the Director of the Department of Customs in Pretoria and offered to take over the role, saying that this would save the Department five hundred pound cash per annum ( being the salary paid to the official doing the duty ) This sounded good and was then discussed with the Park Authorities and it was agreed that Stevenson - Hamilton's proposal be accepted.

The benefit to the Reserve would be that he could add an additional 10 to 12 personnel to Game Reserve staff which he could use as he seemed fit, and then of course the 2000 lb (pound) of maize meal as additional rations for all his staff.

_________________
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 Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:54 pm 
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INVOLVED IN WORLD WAR 1

Time went by and the war clouds of the First World War gathered and eventually the storm came and lasted from 1914 to 1917.

Major Stevenson - Hamilton was informed by letter from the War Office in Britain about the general mobilization and that he was and that he was assigned to a Cavalry Regiment. He felt as if his world was falling apart - what now about CINDERELLA. James met General Smuts together with other Government officials and was offered a senior post in the then South West Africa this did not appeal to him too much and turned it down. He later became a member of the Mediteranian Expeditionery Force heading for Egypt.

He did not like being in Egypt as it seemed to him their only function was to tend the thousands of wounded soldiers and asked for a transfer.

He got a posting with the 52nd Lowland Division as part of the Galipoli campaign against the Turks. This was real war, shells flying and bursting overhead, bullets whining, the soft thud of a hit and the outcry of the unfortunate soldier. There were soldiers on both sides who had made the ultimate sacrifice who lay unburied, in the trenches, there were the moaning wounded and it went on and on. The stench of decay in the air mixed with swarming flies. The dust and filth . . . . . .

It was mainly very brave men from Australia and New Zealand who lost their lives during this dreadfull period

Fortunately the Turks did not immediately realise that the British were withdrawing when the order came and this limited the losses.

After the Galipoli campaign the Major was promoted to the rank of Lieut. Col. and appointed Camp Commandant to the General Headquarters in Ismailia of the Mediteranian Expeditionery Force, very soon he was bored wit Staff Duties, playing polo, conveying messages and procrasternating senior officers, all trying their utmost to be promoted to the top and doing very little else, while the Soldiers in the field were bearing the brunt of often very late or poor decisions and planning.

James was often hauled onto the red carpet for being so outspoken. Being fed up he requested a transfer and was transferred to Mongalla in the Sudan, where he spent 20 months until September 1919 as a District Commissioner in the area in the Upper Nile Province. His main duty was keeping peace between the Dinka and Nuer tribes. Their problems were a never ending fued about live stock ownership and pastures.

James quite liked the Sudanese people but again disliked the corruption he often came across. He also found that most of the senior officials hardly ever did a days work. They enjoyed the comfortable life and also severely hated their having a local mistress. He said that what they were doing was not doing any good to their position.

James turned fifty in the Sudan.

He also enjoyed the wildlife in the Sudan and also gained a lot of experience from the Game Laws of the Sudan. There also were many Game Reserves. There were swamps and arid areas. rather diverse with the resultant diverse animal and plant population.

When the war came to an end, James agreed to stay on a little longer , but soon afterwards applied for leave and a little later submitted his resignation.

James returned to Britain. He then spent the Christmas of 1919 with the family in Kirkton and after going to Fairholm, he realised that he had to return to AFRICA.

He was now 53 years of age and on the brink of possibly the most remarkable and rewarding part of his life . . . . . . .

_________________
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 Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 10:42 am 
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I am so pleased that I could do this one as my 400th post on the Forum. Thanks for the opportunity.

THE PROCLAMATION OF THE NATIONAL PARKS ACT ( ACT 56 OF 1926 )

After Col. Stevenson - Hamilton's return from the Sudan he realised that the only hope of survival for the Sabi Game Reserve lie in the fact that it should become a NATIONAL PARK, as up to now, there was neglect when he was absent and there was a lot of procrasternation going on, when the Sabi Game Reserve and its future was discussed, he felt that the bureaucracy and red tape involved was rather damaging than furthering its cause. He often felt that he was getting nowhere despite al his efforts and proposals submitted, he felt that it just did not seem important enough, he also felt that there were politics involved, and negotiations with the Land Companies made no progress. There was land of private and company ownership within the proposed boundaries of the Reserve as well as Black Settlements. Land had to be either purchased from the owners or expropriated or exchanged, the inhabitants had to be resettled outside the Reserve.

Genl. Louis Botha the Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa died in 1919 and was succeeded by Genl. J. Smuts the Minister of Defence. Although the latter was a good statesman and leader there was a lot of growing dissent against him as a result of his heavy handed handling of the 1914 Rebellion and the 1922 Miners strike. A political change in South Africa seemed on the cards and Stevenson - Hamilton feared that this may be another set back to the nationalizing of the Sabi Game Reserve. Col. Deneys Reitz was now Minister of Lands, although he realised the potential and possiblities of the creation of a National Park and being sympathetic towards the idea he just did not seem able to do much about it. During 1923, Genl. Hertzog leader of the Nationalist Party made a pact with the Labour Party in an attempt to get rid of the Smuts Government during the next elections. The Government indeed changed after the elections and as expected Genl. Hertzog became the new Prime Minister and of course a new Cabinet of Ministers was appointed. Minister Oswald Pirow, the new Minister of Defence, a nature lover and friend, introduced Stevenson - Hamilton to the new Minister of Lands - Mr. Piet Grobler. Stevenson - Hamilton immediately realised that his fears were unnecessary, this was a man who listened, considered the facts, made a decision and then carried it out - unlike the previous lot. Minister Grobler was commiitted to the cause and rapid progress was made.

In the meantime the South African Railways started a nine day tour of the eastern Transvaal which included a few stops and a stayover in the Sabi Game Reserve, this proved immensely popular with the highlight being the time spent in the reserve - visitors were taken on short guided tours into the bush - by a ranger was assigned to this. Sleeping over while listening to the distant roar of a Lion, the call of a Jackal, the barking of Zebra, the call of a Nightjar or a Scops owl was a great experience, the word spread and more and more tourists started visiting CINDERELLA.

Many wildlife photographers did their share of promoting the Sabi G R. Paul Selby, Herbert Lang and Col. F. Hoare spent many days touring - photographing - developing - admiring - and sending their contribution all over the world.

Some of the older folk like me may still remember these photographs displayed, many of them in the railway coaches, I remember as a young boy on train journeys to Hartenbos, how I used to spend hours admiring these - possibly this is where my love for KRUGER and our WILDLIFE germinated. The artist Charles Astley - Maberley also sent accompanying drawings and paintings together with his letters to influential people propogating the envisaged NATIONAL PARK.

Stratford Caldecot together with the Warden spent many days compiling articles and write ups including copies of the mentioned photographs, drawings and paintings, which were distributed world wide, introducing anyone interested, to their dream.

Oposition towards this wonderful plan diminished as much effort was made by members of the Wildlife Society and Scientists in lobbying politicians and othe influential people to this cause.

Minister Piet Grobler had a meeting with the representatives of the Landowners during December 1925 where the matter was discussed. He carefully and thoroughly explained the reasons and the importance of the proposed NATIONAL PARK, and also told them that he supported the plan. He listened to their side of the story and confirmed the States' offer of a land exchange. After the issue being debated, he changed from his diplomatic style to telling them that should they not accept the proposal/ negotiations - the land in question would be simply expropriated.

The Landowners agreed and close to 100 000 hectares was exchanged. The Sabi/Singwitsi Game Reserve now covered close to 2 000 000 hectares.

The foundation for the NATIONAL PARK had been laid, The draft LAW of NATIONAL PARKS was drawn up and on 31 May 1926 the Minister of Lands submitted the LAW OF NATONAL PARKS to Parliament, the leader of the Oposition Genl. J. Smuts seconded the proposal and ( LAW 56 of 1926 ), was the invite of CINDERELLA to the ball when the proposal was accepted with a lot cheering and joy. The Senate confirmed the new Law during June 1926.

The name of the new NATIONAL PARK would officially be the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

A dream had materialised, the Warden realised nothing was in vain.

The Board of CURATORS OF NATIONAL PARKS was appointed, their first meeting was held on 16 September 1926 under the Chairmanship of Senator W.J.C. Brebnor.

Now development could be increased. Fences could be erected, roads made, rest camps extended, bridges built, staff quarters improved. . . . . .

The batchelor James Stevenson - Hamilton on a visit to Britain in 1928 met the 27 year old Australian artist Hilda Cholmondeley - he found her very special and the result, she followed him to South Africa while staying with friends in Plaston, the relationship grew and eventually the confirmed batchelor became a married man - the husband of Hilda Stevenson Hamilton on 13 August 1930. Another of his dreams had come true. . . . . . . . .

_________________
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 Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:00 pm 
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Thank you G! :clap: :clap:

Your episodes have been highly entertaining and I have been relating snippets to the SO!!

James never gave up on his beloved CINDERELLA and he had the foresight to realise that there would be future generations wanting the same dream.

Lucky for us!

:clap: :dance:

_________________
Jackie

Croc Bridge - 6 April 2012
Berg en Dal - 7&8 April 2012


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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2009 1:32 pm 
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SOME OBSERVATIONS IN THE EARLY DAYS

Stevenson - Hamilton noticed that although game numbers had been greatly depleted, the population steadily recovered when the season was right and the veld was good. The only mammal that was completely lost was the Black ( Hook Lipped ) Rhino.

He also noted that upon his arrival that Elephant and Eland had disappeared from the Sabi G R but later came back from the Mozambican Territory, and that in the proclaimation year ( 1926 ) there already was more than 100 elephants in KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

Nyala were still to be found north of the Shingwedzi River.

Herbivore species that recovered well from either immigrating from Moazambique and breeding. Some of the species were the Roan and Sable Antelope, Kudu , Reedbuck, Warthog, Buffalo, Waterbuck, Steenbuck, Zebra, Giraffe, Sharpes Grysbok, Impala, Bushbuck, Bushpig and Blue Wildebeest.

Animals also often seen were Ant-bear, Pangolin, Porcupine and Cane Rat.

Badgers were also seen, one day while out on patrol, accompanied by four dogs, the dogs rushed into the thickets and there was lot of growling and yelping. He followed and in a clearing he saw that the four dogs had tackled a Badger, each had the Badger by the a leg, with the Badger suspended in the air with the head hanging loose, twisting and turning to get hold of a piece of dog. every now and then it got hold of a piece of dog. The dogs were badly bitten and bleeding, eventually they gave up and let go except for the cross bred Irish Terrier which had the Badger down and at its throat, only untill the badger got hold of the one front paw. the Terrier let go and got its front paw freed, and ran off on three legs, yelping.

The Badger got up, shook itself together and trotted off ,unconerned also appearing to be unhurt, tail in the air, as if nothing had happened.

Badgers have a very thick hard fur and also a thick tough skin, apparantly making then virtually immune to injury from bites and stings. They aren't only tough but also are equipped with a set of sharp teeth and a formidable set of canines making it a formidable opponent.

Carnivores to be seen were Lion, Leopard, Cape Hunting dog, Large and Small Spotted Genet, Spotted and Brown Hyeana, Black Backed and Side Striped Jackals, Serval, Caracal, Civet, African Wild Cat (Felis Ocreata ) as well as Cheetah. The bigger cats were seen mainly in the areas of the larger prey herbivores.

Crocodiles , Hippo and Otters were to be seen in the rivers. Various bat species were seen in the dusk.Vervets, Sykes Monkeys and Chacma Baboons were also seen.

Disease took its toll on weak and sick animals, a sure sign was a thin animal and then closer inspection revealed the animal would be covered with ticks.

Dipping cattle and goats in the areas adjoining the KRUGER NATIONAL PARKS, against external parasites was effective, but unfortunately seemed to have killed off the White Egrets and other tick feeding birds. This in turn resulted in a population explosion in the tick population in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK as the balance had been disturbed, tick infestation caused some heavy losses of weakened animals especially during the drier seasons . . . . . . . however the scavengers being the Hyeanas, Jackals, Vultures and Marabous also have their part to play in Natures chain.

_________________
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 Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 12:06 am 
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Fascinating info!

I can add a personal family story. Both my parent's and Grandparent's were born in a Lanarkshire town called Carluke near Fairholm and the place of Stevenson-Hamilton's father's birth. His father was a wealthy land owner in the area. His family had been in the area since the 15th century, I believe. My Grandparent's bought their home in 1933 from a close friend who had built the house a few years earlier as he was moving to Durban, SA. It was their first and only house purchase. It sits in 1/3 of an acre of ground which was a good size in the middle of a town. As was the case in those days my grandfather handled all money matters and not until his passing in 1985 did my gran and my family find out that they did not actually own the land the house had sat on all these years! There was never any rent paid or asked for. The house had been in my Grandad's name so had to transfer to my Gran's. She wanted to protect her future so a search had to be done to find the landowner so she could buy the land. It turned out it was the Stevenson-Hamilton family and when contacted they had no idea that they owned the land! Despite this they took a very high price which she had no choice but to pay. I was a teenager at the time and was told the land owner lived in Africa.
The Stevenson-Hamilton decendants are still at Fairholm and now run a plant nursery which specialises in South African plants!
As a youngster I thought it terrible that an already wealthy family would take money from my Grandmother and thought I would never find anything in common with such a family however many years later I did find something....... my love for Kruger and Africa.

_________________
Desperate for my next Kruger fix!!!


Last edited by maddie2312 on Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 1:42 pm 
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EARLY DEVELOPMENT IN KRUGER

Up to Proclamation date Government funding was restricted to the payment of wages and a few other essentials.

In 1927 the Dept of Finance granted eight thousand pounds for Capital work in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, this was used mainly for road construction, as the aim was to draw tourists. By May 1928, 320 km road suitable for vehicle use had been completed. During the first year 240 cars with 800 occupants entered the PARK, after paying one pound entrance fee. The Board of Trustees decided that the entrance fees could be used for improved tourist facilities. Visitors had to either camp in designated areas or use employees accomodation. Camping was prefered.

By the end of 1929 there were 3 pontoons crossing the Crocodile, Sabie and Olifants Rivers, 640 km of roads had been prepared and 800 vehicles paid entrance fees. A further pontoon crossing at Malelane was completed together with anothe 160 km of roads by early 1930.

Originally visitors were satisfied with the absolute bare essentials provided,expectancies gradually changed and more was required and provided.

During 1938, 38 000 visitors in 10 000 vehicles visited the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK. By now some huts had been equipped with electric lights.

Season tickets were available after payment of two pounds per annum and allowed the holder as many visits as he could make. Life membership was available at payment of twenty five pounds and also allowed access to all Parks under their Curatorship, membership also included a few free rest camp tickets.

The original speed restriction was 40 km per hour - as is still today on gravel roads.

Originally only the Southern area of KRUGER was open all year round due to the danger of Malaria and also due to the poor road condition in the rainy season. Later on it was opened up to Letaba, then Shingwedzi and then the whole of the Park is is today.

Roads were deliberately not made straight for long distances but well curved - to avoid speeding in the Park, a problem we still have today, just much more so.

As development expanded the PARK, more employees were required in the : Scientific, Conservation, Tourism, Administration, Construction and Maintenance Departments. These jobs although not always well paying were prestigeous and were well sought after. Many dedicated people were employed from the surrounding areas as well as more specialists from further away, most seeing KRUGER NATIONAL PARK as a rewarding career and many of the old timers, both white and black spent their lives making KRUGER what it is today. . . . . . .

_________________
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 Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:16 am 
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THE ECCENTRIC COLONEL STEINAECKER

Not much can be said about the early days of KRUGER without mentioning Col. Ludwig Steinaecker and his unit Steinaeckers Horse.

Ludwig Steiaecker was short, slightly built with a very prominent curled moustache and a small well trimmed goatee beard. He was said to be of Prussian descent and also told that he was an officer in the Prussian Guard that had been sent to South Africa on some or other sinister mission.

During the outbreak of the Anglo Boer war, he was in South Africa and joined the Imperial Guides of the British Forces, with the mustering of a cook - a unit that was formed to mainly gather Intelligence. Preparing food was not his forte.

Cook Steinaecker devised a plan much more suited to his stature, breed ( he told those who were prepared to listen that he was a Baron ) and ability. His plan was that he should be placed in command of a small unit that would go and blow up the bridge at Komati Poort. In doing so this would then delay the advance of the Boer Forces by seriously crippling their ability to move their supplies and equipment.

The British High Command realised the strategic importance of Steinaeckers plan and instructed him to carry it out, promoting him to the rank of Major. The newly appointed Major recruited his force and off they went, unfortunately on arrival at Komati Poort the Boers had already crossed - too late.

Something had to be blown up, so he decided to blow up a little bridge at Malelane which had the effect of delaying the oncoming British Forces by two days, much to their annoyance.

The major convinced the authorities of his abilities and was allowed to recruit a force of 300 men that was assigned to patrolling the Mozambican Border. Pay would be ten shillings a day with rations that included whiskey.

Very soon the Steinaeckers Horse was on full strength and assumed their duty, patrolling the very dangerous area, from the Swaziland Border up to where the Olifants River enters the Lebombo Mountains. He had a few block houses built over the distance of about 200 km.

By now the Major was a Colonel, it is not clear whether this was self promoted or not, he wore a self designed uniform of an elaboratedly silver braided cap with green band. A long khaki coloured coat reaching down to his knees, with many silver buttons. His high heeled, well polished, soft leather boots reached up to his knees and when he walked, one could hear the clicking of his shining spurs. He wore his badges of rank on prominent epaulettes fitted onto his well padded shoulders. The uniform was finished off with a Sam Brown type belt around his narrow middle with the shoulder strap supporting his sword, decorated by two silver tassles. All quite impressive this mighty comander, all 1.5m of him. Remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The Steinaeckers Horse diligently carried out the duties of their leizurely task of patrolling the Mozambican Border and would have bravely fended off any attack from any approaching enemy. The Unit HQ being quite distant at Sabi Bridge the well fed and well supplied members enjoyed their tour of duty.

After the end of the war Steinaecker still kept the unit going. He became aware of the Coronation of King Edward VII with all the pomp and ceremony involved. He also became aware that some members of the British Forces in South Africa would be joining in, as he did not receive an invitation he realised that it must have been an omission and to avoid later embarrassment to the authorities about his not being invited to attend the parade, promptly arranged a passage with a shipping company, for himself and a few of his men to attend the occasion. Off they went.

Arriving in London the Colonel being the comanding officer of the brave unit of many battles in AFRICA, reported for duty. Records were checked, his claims disputed and he was instructed to return to where he had come from.

Arriving at HQ, Steinaecker refused to disband his unit. The Warden of the Sabi Game Reserve was instructed by the authorities to investigate the need for a Military Unit in the area and to report back. Major Stevenson - Hamilton did the investigation and his report led to the disbandment of this loyal force.

Eventually Steinaecker moved to Pilgrims Rest and started a cotton farm.

A display depicting some of the life of the Steinaeckers Horse is on view at the picnic site on the way to the Giriyondo Border Post.

_________________
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 Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:47 am 
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STICKING TO THE RULES: FIRST ELECTION

The first election of the Transvaal Government after the 1899 - 1902 war was held in 1907. The Sabie Bridge area was a sub district of the Barberton constituency.

In preparation to the election the sealed ballot box was delivered together with the voters roll, voting papers, details of the procedures as well as the appointments.

The appointed presiding electoral officer was Major James Stevenson - Hamilton, while the appointed member of the police was Guy Rambont Healy.

The voters roll consisted of the following voters :
Healy. Guy Rambont.
Stevenson - Hamilton, James.

All the preparations were made as prescribed in the thick book of instructions.

When due date arrived Lance Corporal Tim Healy all dressed up in neatly pressed uniform and with shining belt and holster, promptly reported for duty to the elctoral officer who assigned him his duty together with two also dressed and polished up Black Police Constables.

The members of the Police took up their postions guarding the voting station and also keeping an eye open for any irregularities.

Healy. Guy Rambont cast his vote under the watchfull eyes of the two Constables and then took up his position.

Stevenson - Hamilton. James decided that he would cast his vote later during the afternoon. Unfortunately the warden had an encounter with a spitting cobra, after cleaning out his eyes he went to bed his eyes covered with bandages. Unfortunately he did not recover in time to cast his vote, he could hardly see and it being a secret ballot also could not request assistance.

Closing time came and the ballot box containing the single ballot paper was sealed as per regulation and carefully guarded through the night. Early the following morning the sealed ballot box, the voters roll and other parephernalia was loaded onto the waiting trolley.

Lance Corporal Tim Healy together with the two Constables all well armed, set off on the journey to Komati Poort to from where the Ballot box was to be taken to Barberton by train, and where the votes were to be counted.
The journey started without a hitch.

The rail track was not in regular use and was often overgrown by grass and other weeds. Ants also started building a termite mound in between the tracks of the Selati railway line between the Sabi siding and Komati Poort Railway Station.

The operators of the trolley were merrily pumping the handles driving the trolley downhill, at a reasonable speed, when fate came upon them - the trolley struck the termite mound hidden in he grass, and was hurled down the embankment. All being Healy, the armed Policemen, the operators, the paraphernalia and the Ballot box spread all over the area. The Ballot box bursting open with the fall. Fortunately no one was seriously injured and all was collected ( including the single ballot paper which was laying somewhere ) and redeposited onto the trolley and the journey continued.

The resultant delay caused by the accident ended with the late arrival at the Komati Poort Station where the train to Barberton had had already left. Eventually everything arrived at Barberton where there was a lot of anxiety as the counting of the votes could not commence untill all the Ballot boxes had been checked in. Mr. R.K.Loveday the encumbent member for the constituency was re-elected with some majority.

_________________
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 Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:04 pm 
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Thank you for these interesting memories from the early Kruger days :D

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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:34 pm 
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The long trek to Punda Maria. Part 1

A visit to Punda Maria required a lot of preplanning. An oxwagon and a buckboard ( a light sturdy little four wheeled wagon, of Canadian origin ) pulled by Whiskey and Soda ( two horses ), eight pack donkeys were loaded with provisions and gear, a few cows for milk and they were ready for the journey from Sabi Bridge.

The average speed was about 4 to 5 km per hour, travelling about 28 to 35 km per day.

First day took the group close to one of the favoured spots being Tshokwane.

Second day was to Satara, Stevenson-Hamilton drove ahead in the buckboard. The oxwagon and the donkeys following with the rest of the crew, was expected to arrive close to sunset. There was a delay due to something that had to be repaired on the oxwagon. Stevenson-Hamilton was just making himself comfortable when one of the crew arrived and informed him that the donkeys had taken fright and ran off, getting lost about 2 km from the destination.

Fearing the worst as the area was known to have a high Lion population, the Warden set off to the little convoy to investigate. He got the search party going and followed the tracks in a moonless night by the light of two hurricane lamps. Lions roaring all around made his fears worsen. After about an hour in which they covered 1.5 km. they arrived at a swamp. There was a snort and a crash, with their hearts in their throats the lamps were lifted and someone shouted " Bongolo " and there a pair of long ears was just visible. The search party spread out and soon all eight of the pack donkeys were found. A sigh of relief went up as the carefully planned trip to Punda Maria had been saved.

One donkey was caught and tied with a riem ( a leather thong ) and led and sure enough the other seven followed. Once the little group was startled by a herd of Zebra which nearly caused another stampede, they arrived back at Camp ( Satara ) soon after 9 p.m. very relieved for not having any losses in Lion country.

The next event of the trip was at the Olifants River. Arriving at the picket at 2 p.m. they made camp and surrounded it with thorn bushes ( this enclosure is called a zeriba ). At 9:30 p.m. Lions were heard about 2 to 3 km. away, dogs barking, one of the accompanying scouts came running up with the cheerful news of Lions in the cattle enclosure. Lamps had to be lit, the rifle and ammunition had to be found, ( more haste less speed ). Shoes on, the carbide lamp lit and the Paradox shotgun loaded with SSG slugs they set off to the cattle kraal followed by the rest of the crew all armed with an assegai and a hurricane lamp. They heard the menacing growl of an angry Lion on the inside. James decided to move around to have a better view of what was going on inside. Halfway across there was a tremendous crash against the wide thorn fence and a dark shape bounded out. James took a snap shot at the form but seemingly without any effect. Some more grunts and growls were heard from the kraal, then more crashing of the thorn fence, the dogs immediatley gave chase but very immediately returned, everone of them trying his level best not too be last in the race, one of them nearly upended the Warden and then except for the dogs barking - silence.

Going into the kraal they found the oxen standing quite safe.

The holes in the thorn fence was repaired and they decided to put out a night watch in case of the Lions returning - the others turning in. Although sleeping restlessly there was no further dramatic event except for the noise of a Lion possibly prowling around the camp making grunting calling noises.

Rising early he heard his dog Bles a cross bred Ridgeback barking continuously from one spot . He loaded the double barrelled Paradox with SSG slugs and carefully and very watchfull set off in the direction of the barking. There thirty yards away from the enclosure was the shape of a Lion with Bes barking at it. Upon investigation the lucky shot was into the left front part of the body, with one slug hitting and severing the aorta.

It was an old male, large and gaunt with a small greying mane, canines blunted to stumps by age, Porcupine quills sticking out of his chest and some broken off in his pads. The poor animal long passed its prime, obviously could no longer catch game, and therefore had to live from what was available.

Later the morning on examining the cattle kraal, James found that the Lion had crawled about halfway into the thorn fence of nearly five metres wide. The barking dogs and humans approaching with swaying lanterns must have been more than he was prepared to take, he decided to turn around and make a getaway. . . . . . . .

_________________
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 Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:27 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:27 am 
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The long trek to Punda Maria part 2

After all the excitement of the donkeys spooking and the Lions at the cattle kraal it was time to pack up and move on.

Crossing the Olifants River took up most of the day so a short trek took place the afternoon.

Next stop was the Ledeboer post, just north of LETABA, here in a little mud and thatch house Henry Ledeboer, his wife and small child seemed quite content with their Spartan lifestyle.

Ledeboer told the Warden about a few big Elephant bulls living in the area. They were quite used to humans and also did not seem to mind them too much. The bulls often wandered/ grazed quite close to the post, only the barking dogs seemed to offend them, the dogs were frequently chased by them.

The natives living in the area complained that the bulls often pulled the thatch roof from the grain huts and then enjoyed the contents. The Warden made it clear that they were living in a Game Sanctuary and the best alternative would be is resettlement outside the Reserve.

James suggested to Ledeboer that firing some rifle shots or setting off some fire crackers when the Elephants became a nuisance, may also do the trick of scaring them off.

Next stop was at Frazer's post at Malunzane where they were welcomed by Major Frazer's 25 barking dogs. Very little game was sighted and the few seen were very skittish. The highlite of the trek was a tree with many broken bushes surrounding it and Rhino horn rubbing marks. Indeed a welcome sight near the Bubube River.The animal was not seen but sufficient evidence of its presence was available. No native hunting camps which previously were quite plentifull, were now found, the only human habitation was closer to the western border.

Very soon on a trek like this a routine falls in place and everyone realise his part to play, even the horses, cattle and the donkeys. Looking after the animal welfare on a trek of this type was of great importance as sore hooves or a chafed donkey back would cause disruption to an organised trek.

The Warden now on horseback normally rode ahead while the rest of the convoy following. Excitement was limited to the odd predator being sighted or maybe coming across a recent kill. Leaving early the days trek normally ended at 02:00, leaving ample time to make camp and to settle also allowing the animals enough grazing time. The main task of building a large and strong enough zeriba and dragging in enough firewood for a campfire burning at the entrance all night - to prevent the re occurence of the happening on the banks of the Olifants River.

James used to sleep in his little bivvey tent, the natives normally in the open close to the fire rolled in their blankets, and on the far side a rope was tied, to which the horses and donkeys were tethered. Dinner was prepared and had at sundown Some nights they would sit around the fire and share . . . . . . and then the quiet of AFRICA came across them. A good life enjoyed by the batchelor Warden and his little party.

Eventually Punda Maria, the post of Ranger Coetzer was reached. Many days were spent here in the wattle and daub huts, built by the cheerfull energetic Coetzer and his staff. - Next time you visit this little camp and you stay over in one of the little huts ( the outside walls and the roof structures are still authentic, as well as the Lead Wood poles supporting the roof, no termite or fire can destroy this hard type of wood ) you should realise that a century ago, they also offered peace and comfort to many visitors . . . . . .

_________________
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 Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:41 pm 
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Wonderful stuff, gmlsmit -- you have me spellbound in spite of hearing and reading a lot of these stories before :clap: :clap:


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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:59 am 
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HURDLES IN THE WAY

Originally the KRUGER PARK area was a paradise, teeming with game. The result: everyone owning a rifle, a bow and arrow, an assegai or a spear or a snare, regarded it his right to go and hunt there and shoot, stab or snare everything he liked. White slaughterers were the main culprets. It did not take very many years for the numbers to reduced to being close to nothing.

When there was talk of the area being proclaimed as a many objections were raised by neighbouring farmers, the area was regarded as good grazing area and many had an eye on the possbiility of obtaining a oiece of the land, others were opinioned that they had grazing rights. Many mining companies had their claws out to the mineral rights of the area - gold and coal. The native inhabitants of a few areas. The hunters objecting as their prime hunting ground would be lost.

The big problem was purchasing the land from landowners or doing a land exchange. Most of the exchanges were done without many problems as many resettlements were done into more fertile and healthier areas - less malaria and nagana carried by the tsetse fly. Game was imune to nagana but cattle died within a few hours within being in the "fly area". Some mining companies just refused to sell or exchange, untill told by Minister Grobler, after many diplomatic discussions, that due to the necessity of the area being proclaimed as a Game Reserve, the Government had made up their minds that expropriation was the only other alternative. A sale or exchange was agreed on and this matter was settled.

The Warden decided that in order to increase the herbivore population, the carnivores had to be reduced. There was a huge outcry, the reason being given, that the tsetse fly would increase and nagana would spread to cattle and destroy the herds. This reason was handled and set aside.

The next one was the game were carriers of disease that could destroy the herds, eventually the Reserve was fenced and this reason fell by the way side. The KRUGER NATIONAL PARK even today is sometimes plagued by Foot and Mouth disease, Corridor disease which makes it very difficuilt to export Buffalo fron Kruger, and then there is the most feared of all Anthrax which kills an animal within hours after being infected. Today another disease has came to the fore being Bovine Tuberculoses which is reckoned to have started in the Buffalo herds of the Southern Area and is now slowly spreading towards the Northern areas. Fortunately then and now these diseases are being very strictly controlled by the State Veterinarean Services - these objections have thus been taken care of.

The next objection was the the game numbers would multiply at such a rate that they would break out of the Reserve and destroy the adjoining crops. This proved to be unfounded.

Then after the control of the carnivore control stopped there was an outcry that the Lion population would increase so rapidly due to the favourable conditions, that the Reserve would eventually not be able to sustain them and they break out of the Reserve and destroy the neighbouring herds. This was handled and put to bed.

Then the problem of red and brown locusts, these insects multiply rapidly then form lttle groups who combine to eventually form big swarms. It has been said that a locust swarm in flight resembles a tremendoous dust storm. These swarms then devour any plant in its way and after passing through, leave behind a desolate area, where there is nothing left neither a leave or a stalk or a blade - nothing - resulting in no grazing being available and starvation to the animals, whether domestic or wild. The complaint originally was that insufficient control of the locust swarms would be done in the Reserve. This proved wrong. In the early days locust swarms were killed off by spraying a mixture of arsenic and treacle/ molasses. This may sound very hazardous but it was about the only effective way in dealing with the problem. Then the complaint came that the arsenic would kill off al life from the Reserve. This was not the case as the Reserve staff were about the only trained people to handle the problem, if the concentrations were mixed correctly and the spraying was done according to the laid down procedure only the locust would be killed. It was determined that should an animal who normally feeds on locust, devour much more than what it normally does, its chances of being harmed by the arsenic in the meal would be very very slim. The arsenic spraying was done immediately a swarm was detected, preferably in the hopping stage ( before their wings were developed sufficiently to take to the air ). Once they could fly it was very difficuilt to control them, fires were lit, noise was made every effort possible was tried to avoid the destruction. The complaints raised were investigated by the relevant authorities and the finding was that the most effective locust control was by the Game Reserve staff.

Many pages of the " FARMERS WEEKLY "an agricultural magazine first published fortnightly and later weekly were regularly used, raising the above and simliar complaint. No wonder the Warden very often got fed up, being the iron willed person he was he fortunately just became more determined to see CINDERELLA married off to her PRINCE.

Obviously there were also periods of drought but this was induced by NATURE and the Great Mother knows how to handle this - there was very little that could be done about this except boreholes sunk with windmills the erected to supply drinking water to the thirsty animals from either concrete troughs or drying up natural waterholes in the veldt. Many of the waterholes were made from Government Funds but the majority by donations from friends of KRUGER ,who really cared . . . . .

_________________
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 Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:44 am 
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THE WARDEN'S VIEWS OF LIONS

It was soon realised that the AFRICAN LION is one of the main attractions to visitors, both locally and from overseas. The original policy of destroying carnivores was reviewed and changed as soon as the herbivore population had recovered to sustainable numbers.

Most newcomers to the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK ( even today still ) expect to see a blood thirsty maneater behind every bush.

When the first tourists visited the K N P the Warden expected that the Lions would immediately take off and disappear into the bush immediately on detecting a noisy monster smelling of oil and then eventually avoid the areas alongside the roads.

The Lions soon realised that the vehicles were harmless, on approach by a vehicle they would just go on with what they were doing. It was realised that Lions definitely did not associate vehicles with humans. The human smell possibly overwhelmed by the smell of fuel and oil. Stevenson - Hamilton often used to get out of his vehicle on the oppsite side from the Lions, on sighting the human form , the previously lazy and unconcerned animals would jump up in alarm and run off into the bush - their natural fear of humans very evident.

Lions only react to what experience had taught them. Lions regard any animal as potential prey. Maneaters were regarded by the Warden as normally an old animal who has has lost its speed and agility and now had to survive on whatever was available, or due to to some undterminable circumstance lost its natural fear of humans and became the unfortunate.
Stevenson - Hamilton often experienced that young Lions would playfully charge a departing vehicle but upon the vehicle stoppng, would also immediately stop the game.

In the early years visitors were allowed to to get out of their vehicles. A tale told is that a family were driving and stopped for a bit to eat. They got out of the vehicle, spread the blanket and enjoyed their meal. After a bit of a rest the went for a short drive, intending to return and then continue the picnic before packing up - alas upon the return there were other occupants, a family of Lions had taken great pleasure in tearing up the blanket and suitcases left behind, with the content strewn all over the area. All efforts to chase them off, were ignored and the Lion family casually just enjoyed their newly found playthings.

The visitors set off to camp and spent a restless night with very few of their comforts, early the following morning they returned to their picnic spot to find that the Lions had left, and there belongings torn to shreds, spread over the area and some hanging from the surrounding bushes. Expensive leather suitcases not torn had claw marks all over them. Remnants were collected and the possibility of suing the Parks Board for damages was considered but promptly abandoned.

Staff often used to talk about Lions and often were of the opinion that Lions were just as interested in watching tourists as is vice versa.

Lions also have their teritory, a famous Lion viewing spot for tourists was a little island overed in thick grass on a large natural pan. being the dry season, it was the only water in a large dry area, the Lion family had their own little pantry of fresh meat - Kudu, Bluewildebeest, Warthog, Zebra and Impala coming for a drink of water. Tourist cars were always seen at the spot, where obviously many tales of fact and fiction were born.

Stevenson - Hamilton also noticed that Lions would prefer sleeping on the road instead of the wet dewy or rained on grass. As time went by the Lions got more and more accustomed to vehicles and then, even as today very often did just what the enjoyed most- sleeping off the previous evenings activities in the shade of a bush or a tree, only movement: swatting away a troublesome fly but still well aware of what happening in their surroundings, and then as the sun gradually jouneyed towards the west followed the shade and just collapsed . . . . .

_________________
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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