THE EARLY RANGERS - PART 1
Due to the priority duty in the early days being Law Enforcement, it is understandable that most of the early Rangers had either a ZARP ( police ) or a Military background, people with discipline and knowledge of the veld as well as knowledge of a Black language were appointed.
Times were tough accomodation was up to 1910 mainly in pole and mud huts. Food supply was basic, they had to make do with what was available, mainly Game meat and mealy meel porridge. Medical facilities were very far away therefore malaria, flu, pneumonia amd other illnesses had to be treated in situ with what was available. Lines of comunication were still very far in the future. Therefore finding a Ranger with a family was the exception.
E G ( Gaza ) GRAY.
This ex officer of the STEINAECKERS HORSE originally from the Eastern Cape was was fluent in Tsonga the local languadge and also very knowledgable about the culture and traditions of the black people, who called him "Mastulele " the quiet one.
He was posted at Lower Sabie but did not serve very long as he went awol doing has old job in Mozambique for WNLA, recruiting native labour for the mines. He was summarily dismissed by the Warden.
R M Atmore
Rupert Atmore was recruited from the STEINAECKERS HORSE where he served as member of the British Inteligence. He was the first appointment as permanent Game Ranger in the Sabi Game Reserve in August 1902.
Atmore also hailed from the Eastern Cape and had been in the Lowveld since 1884 as from approximately the age of seven years.
The locals called him " Mhlati " the man with the large jawbone.
His post was on the northern side of the Crocodile River opposite the Kaapmuiden Railway Station, responsible for the south western area up to Pretoriuskop, eastwards to Crocodile Bridge.
After a dispute about replacing his horse that died of horse sickness, he resigned in December 1902 after four months service.
After his resignation he started farming with vegetables and fruit in the Malelane area where he did very well for himself.
During 1932 Ranger Tomlinson caught Atmore cutting reeds in the Crocodile River, he was charged, the case ended up in the South African Supreeme Court wher the decision was made in favour of the Parks Board thereby ending the age old dispute about exactly where the southern boundary of KRUGER was - either the highwater mark or the inside edge of the southern side of the Crocodile River.
H C C WOLHUTER
Henry or Harry as he was calledwas the second permanent appointed full time Ranger of the Sabi Game Reserve. Served as a Sergeant in the " FAMOUS " military unitat Sabi Bridge.
He hailed from Beaufort West in the Karoo where as a youngster learnt to love the veld.The Wolhuter family moved to the Transvaal in 1890, Harry then 13 years old.
He was called " Lindanda " meaning loincloth, (he used to issue loin cloths to his workers ).
Harry was posted at Mtimba on the western border from where he diligently did his duty for 36 years, after which he was moved to a camp near Pretoriuskop, he served the area for 44 years.
While on patrol during 1903, Harry came across the Albasini ruins near the Phabeni mouth at the Sabie River. He had to parol up to the Olifants River in the north. Whilst returning from one of these patrols near the Metsi Metsi spruit that the Lion attack of of 26 August 1903 took place, nearly fatally injuring the Ranger who eventually killed the Lion by stabbing it in the heart with his knife. The skin and knife is on display at the Stevenson- Hamilton library at SKUKUZA the main camp of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK. What happened there is material for another tale.
Harry was very effective in his anti poaching efforts, he regularly caught poachers, confiscated unlicenced firearms and destroyed stray dogs.
Ranger Henry Charles Christoffel Wolhuter retired from the National Parks Board service at the age of 70 years after 44 years of loyalty, dedication and respect. He spent his last years at his farm " Lindndene " in the district of White River. The Warden never ever for one moment regretted the appointment of the Sergeant.
His book " Memories of a Game Ranger " published in 1948, was written at Lindandene and illustrated by the artist Charle T Astley-Maberley. He was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the WILDLIFE SOCEITY OF SOUTHERN AFRICA in 1947.
Harry Wolhuter spent his retirement on his little farm untill time ran out on 30 January 1964 at the age of 88 years.
Thomas Duke replaced Ruper Atmore at Kaapmuiden. Eventully settling at Lower Sabi after the dismissal of Ranger Gaza Gray. He retired from service in 1923 after 20 years of loyal service.
This man from Ardee Country in ireland arrived in south africa as a baby in 1860, settling in - the Eastern Cape. He was therefore called " M'Xosa " by the locals of the Transvaal lowveld.
He was awarded a DSM,serving as a Segeant in the CAPE MOUNTED RIFLES. He also was a member of RIMINGTON'S GUARDS during the Boer War where he fought with his later boss - Major J Stevenson - Hamilton.
Ranger Duke also had C I D experience, and was well known to find offender, when or where no one else could, he was like a bloodhound on the trail and with inborne perseverence and skill seldomnly failed to land the right man in Court, where the culprit was brought to book.
Ranger Duke,a man of few words owed his life to his Native Corporal Mpanpuni Ubizi ,hile fleeing from a wounded Lion when the latter plucked him in behind some rocks from where he could pull the shot that counted.
Corporal Mpanpuni was killed by a Lion while out on patrol in the Crocodile Bridge area on 15 October 1935.
Duke reported a sighting of 15 Buffalo during September 1913.
A eat wood and iron house was erected for Ranger Duke of Lower Sabi in 1910, where he lived in comfort untill his retirement as Ranger. Duke got permission to operate a shop at Sabi Bridge.
He was succeeded by his son also Thomas Duke who took care of him untill when his time came in March 1934.
The waterhole with windmills at Shimangwanaspruit near Lower sabie was named after Ranger Thomas Duke, one of the recent great tuskers who frequents the area was also named DUKE.
Ranger Duke Jr. also had a very close shave with a male Lion, while on patrol the Lion attacked the tracker and then pulled Duke down, Duke realised that resistance would cause immediate death. He then feigned death the Lion had him by the leg and was shaking him as a dog would do with a rat. Eventually the Lion let go and moved off a 100 metres or so. Mrs Sylvia Duke his wife was contacted, she arrived by their motor vehicle and took her husband to the Barberton hospital where he spent two months recovering from his ordeal. After returning to his post he shot a monster Crocodile that was terrorising man and beast, the animal measured 4.88 m in length and had to be dragged from the water by a few oxen . . . . . . .
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
Convenor of the AIKONA Group.
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
Done 141 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.
Last edited by gmlsmit on Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:21 am, edited 1 time in total.