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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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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:17 pm 
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SOME ACTS OF " EXTREME BRAVERY "

I am here referring to visitors ignorance/stupidity. Reading through the Wardens memoirs I came across the following :

A Lion male was lying motionless next to the road. a vehicle stopped and watched - no response from the Lion, another vehicle arrived at the scene - still no response, some more vehicles arrived still no response from the motionless Lion. A driver spoke to an onlooker in another vehicle and they imagined the Lion to be in the happy hunting grounds far away from KRUGER. The two spoke to other onlookers and all were in agreement - the Lion was dead.

Brave as they were they got out of their vehicles to go and see what caused the death of this poor animal, Approaching the Lion one caring person picked up a stick and threw it at the Lion, fortunately the aim was on target. The Lion sprang to its feet with a roar - what a commotion when the withdrawal started, no one prepared to cover the rear and everyone running for cover in the closest vehicle, just imagine a few people entering a vehicle in a hurry through the same door. Fortunately the astonished animal just stared in astonishment, it must have really had its fill, as a better kill served on a platter, is hardly imaginable.

In another instance a vehicle came across a kill made by a single male Lion. Braveheart decided that he wanted to have a closer look and got out of his vehicle and approached the Lion in short rushes, everytime the Lion looked up and growled, he turned around and ran back to the vehicle, after a little while he would repeat the performance, luckily another vehicle arrived at the scene and stopped the goings on - and most probably saved Bravehearts life.

Fortunately an unmolested Lion will seldomnly harm an ignorant stupid soul.

The majority of visitors visiting Kruger still go to see the main attraction. Stevenson - Hamilton recalled often stopped at approaching vehicles and asked whether they had seen anything. The reply often was " no nothing " and a bit further on he would see some Impala or Kudu or possibly some beautiful Sable or Waterbuck. Upon seeing the visitors ater he would enquire about his sightings and the response often was " oh those, I saw them all right, but I did not see a single Lion ".

Many people also know very little about the different animals. The Warden recalled that very often Bluewildebeeste were often thought of as Buiffalo, Impala referred to as Springbuck, a distant Warthog as a Rhinoceros, a question asked was " how do the smaller antelope survive with so many Giraffe around ", another was how was it possible to have so many fish in the rivers with all the Hippo around.

Fortunately the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK is still succeeding in educating its visitors that are worth preserving for their own sake - they are not there just to provide meat and leather for the financial gain of the greedy human predatory animal. KRUGER has most probably done more to make people nature conscious than all the zoos, books and TV programmes.

Another illustration of " bravery " was when a visitor and his family were driving around, they came across a Sable bull standing behind some scrub close to the road. He needed a good photograph and decided to approach the animal. What the photographer was not aware of was that the bull had been injured in a fight with another. About six paces away, the bull charged the photographer and drove one horn through and drive the beast off, the " brave " photographer would surely have been killed. . . . .

_________________
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: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:41 pm 
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After the cricket distraction I lost sight of this most excellent thread.. :clap: :clap: :clap: Keep up the good work. I think that this thread deserves a sticky.

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 Post subject: Re: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 4:22 pm 
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OPENING OF THE NORTHERN AREA - THE SHINGWEDZI AREA

Although game was not as plentifull as in the southern areas there was a larger variety of less frequently seen animals, being ; Elephants in larger numbers, Nyala, Reedbuck, Eland, Tsessebe and Roan Antelope were very often come across by himself and the Area Ranger, Major Frazer the lone batchelor with his many dogs and who boldly refused to do any paper work, when he "forgot" to submit the time sheets for his staff, he would pay them from his own pocket and thought nothing of it. He was a RANGER and not a clerk. Major Frazer departed in 1920.

The Southern area of KRUGER was flourishing and the game population in the area north of LETABA had sufficiently recovered. to warrant opening it to the public. The Warden realised that once it had been opened, the claims for deproclamation would sieze and CINDERELLA would grow as he dreamed.
Also seen were the beautiful landscape, huge Baobabs and tall palm trees or bushes of palm trees in the wetter areas, as well as the beautifull Mopani veld and then of course the magnificient PAFURI area.

Roads had to be made, a concrete bridge similiar to those over the Sabi and Dand Rivers had to be constructed across the Great Letaba River.

The bridge competed and 160 km of road made by Mr Joubert from the Provincial Roads Departement - the northern areas were opened to the public.

The Warden realised that more staff would be required, there were two posts one in the north manned by Ranger Botha and in the south manned by Ranger Crous. A new post was developed in the middle and was manned by Ranger Tomlinson an experienced man from the southern area. Bert Tomlinson found a lot of poaching activity but fortunately he was very energetic and with zest he quickly put and end to this.

By 1935 the annual income derived from tourist traffic amounted to twenty thousand pounds, a sum far beyond his dreams. With Government grants, donations and the drived funds KRUGER NATIONAL PARK could expand and develope.

One of the great needs was the scarcity of water in some areas. Animals used to overgraze areas with water, during the dry periods, eventually turning it into a barren wasteland.

Stevenson - Hamilton realised that water points were required, on discussion with a regular visitor from Cape Town - a Mr. Jeary who offered a publicity campaign in this reard - this also materialised. The need was expressed the " the Star " newspaper of Johannesburg and in a very short time generous members of the public, of Business concerns and Industry contributed five thousand pounds towards better watering facilities for the animals of KRUGER.

Stevenson - hamilton now realised that people did not see KRUGER as an ieresting holiday resort, but as a NATIONAL ASSET. Many of the larger towns subscribed a borehole. Two ladies, Mesdames ORPEN and ARMOUR HALL also donated a borehole each.

Boerholes were sunk over the whole of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, mainly in the waterless areas, depths ranging up to 90 metres and a supply of 1400 to 9000 litres per hour.

Concrete drinking troughs were constructed but many a new wallow was also fed from a newly erected windmill. In the beginning game animals were hesitant to visit the new watering points with strange windmills and troughs, however they gradually bacame used to to these and eventually they willingly slaked their thirst, Lions and other predators also soon became aware of the watering points and this also lead to a wider distribution. The Lions seemed to prefer the concrete troughs where they could lay up all day and take a mouhfull of cleaner water whenever required.

During times of plenty, the boreholes were locked and were only activated when the dry season approached.

Stevenson- Hamilton was overjoyed during a very dry spell in 1935, when approaching a new watering point - a puddle dam attached to a windmill, found a herd of close to a hundred Buffalo drinking and making a total mess of it. The herd frequented the area untill the rains came and they returned to their natural haunts.

Very soon after the rains, very few spoor were seen at the artificial supplies so the policy of shutting of the windmills during times of plent was justified.

The Warden was of the opinion with more watering points spread evenly over the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, very many more heads of game could be sustained. . . . . . . . . . .

_________________
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: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:15 am 
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THE WARDEN GETS MARRIED !

There were political issues during 1926 and James became unhappy and decided that he needs space to clear his mind. He applied for long leave due and intended going to Britain to consider his options. Arriving at Kirkton he found his already ill father was near to death. His father James died and as per his request was buried next to his first wife Eliza.

Knowing very little about the goings on at Kirkton and Fairholm, James felt a stranger in his own land, he felt his home was at Sabi Bridge. His position of Secretary of the Fauna Society ( handed down from father to son ) was not fulfilling, the weather added to his anxciety. Fortunately a letter The National Parks Board arrived, requesting him to return as Warden of KRUGER NATIONAL PARK. He accepted and cabled his reply. The Warden was back at Sabi Bridge by May 1927. James started feeling ill mid June 1927, at first he thought it was recurring bout of malaria, he became short of breath. He seeked medical attention in September, he was admitted to the Arcadia Nursing Home in Pretoria, where he underwent an operation for a plueral abcess. Recovery was slow and after a month was discharged from hospital, he recovered at friends' in Pretoria untill November.

He returned to Sabi Bridge but was still not the healthy man he was before.he applied for sick leave which was granted. He again returned to Britain where he met Hilda Cholmondeley in August 1928. He was immediately attracted to this tall Australian girl. Although 35 years younger than him she was pleasant and full of energy and jou for life. He considered her attractive and charming. She was fassinated by his stories about AFRICA and its WILDLIFE and ADVENTURE.

Hilda and Margaret Broadhurst decided to visit AFRICA , in fact White River, Colesberg in the Cape Province and also intended touring through South Africa.At a dinner with the Broadhursts, Hilda informed James of their plan. James saw them off on their way to AFRICA on board the Llanstephan on 31 January 1929.

Stevenson - Hamilton's sick leave was up and his yearning for AFRICA and also possibly Hilda, increased. He returned to Sabi Bridge . When Margaret Broadhurst returned to Britain, Hilda ( nicknamed Chum ), decided to stay behind, she loved AFRICA and possibly the Warden of KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

Hilda was staying in Johannesburg and many letters were sent to Sabie Bridge and responded to. Eventually Hild's mother, Ina Cholmondeley became dissatisfied with the situation. Hilda was requested to return home, but instead they decided to get married. A marriage agreement was drawn up. The ceremony was performed at the Registrars. James was very happy and amongst others on his first birthday as a married man,received a present and a cake the first in decades - marriage definitely had its advantages.

The two decided to have a ceremony for the family, Hilda set off for Britain and James soon follwed. The wedding ceremony was held in the pretty little family church in Dorset.

The newly wedded couple returned to where the belong and the only place where James was really happy - Sabi Bridge in The KRUGER NATIONAL PARK - SOUTH AFRICA.

The couple were happy, they were with good friends and Hilda loved the lifestyle of being the wife of the Warden, their house often filled with guests, many opportunities to wander off into the veld and of course she could as an artist, live her life to the full. Three children were born from this marriage being: Margaret in 1931, James in 1933 and Anne in 1935, just imagine being the child of the Warden of KRUGER NATIONAL PARK in the early days . . . . . . .

_________________
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: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:32 pm 
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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.

T DUKE

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
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 Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:21 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 25, 2009 2:54 pm 
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A GESTURE OF GOODWILL

The mentioned Mrs Eileen Orpen who donated a watering place to KRUGER also did something else very remarkable and appreciated.

Game animals migrated from diminishing grazing areas to where known areas of good grazing was, for many centuries. With the proclamation of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK and the resultant fencing, many of these migratory routes were cut off.

Mrs Orpen became aware of a certain farm adjoining the park on the western boundary, had the only drinking pool during the dry season for a very large area. This farm had became the favourite hunting area for hunting parties, every winter where the thirsty game animals were awaited and then shot without much effort. Mrs. Orpen purchased the farm and promptly donated it to the NATIONAL PARKS BOARD for amalgamation with KRUGER.

The Board realised through this wonderfull gesture, by a caring lady, that more such spots were being used for this kind of " sport ". The National Parks Act had a slight amendment done to, and certain Government farms in the same area were also added to KRUGER with the object of preventing the use of the farms for illegal game destruction.

_________________
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: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:22 pm 
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THE WARDEN THINKS ABOUT . . . . Part 1

The Warden often thought about what he had done. He got an area denuded of game, often made himself immensely unpopular, saw the the game population recover and then . . . . . . . development.

Accomodation for staff was built, roads and bridges built, camps for tourists buil and improved.

Civilization had come to CINDERELLA. Visitors would come in crowded lorries, shouting and littering, noizy radios and grammophones were heared. He even noticed that the animals seemed to have adapted to the changed conditions.

He often comapred CINDERELLA while in her former natural simplicity to what she had become, and then he realised he played a great part in this transformation. He was afraid that the " SPIRIT OF THE WILD " would spread its wings and with averted face , flee forever from this eden - KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

There were trials and struggles, anxiety of the past was forgotten and the glamour of the present now remained.

In the early days visitors were nature enthusiasts, people with simple taste, who slept on the ground at their little alloted camping spot, cooked their own food.

Now things have changed, ten years later, accomodation provided and furnished plainly furnished, shops where most requirements could be obtained, hot and cold water in bathrooms, electric lighting and even some telephone lines laid on - now letters began appearing in the press mentioning the hard life tourists had to endure in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

Stevenson - Hamilton often wondered what would really satisfy these people who just came here to see a wild Lion and much less interested in what else the PARK could offer. He got the impression that it was just a change from the previous annual coastal holidays, they were therefore comparing seaside resort comforts to this wildlife experience.

The Warden was of the opinion that the comforts offered in the tourist camps comapred very well with ameniities offered in the Lowveld hotels.

He often comapred KRUGER with the American NATIONAL PARKS, the latter were more scenic with wild animals being of much less importance, this was contrary to what he envisaged for CINDERELLA with the PRINCE.

He wrote that covering the sanctuary with roads, rest camps becoming too big and too numerous, resulting in too many visistors, would deprive the wild animals of their privacy they so dearly need to live in peace. He was concerned that the animals may migrate from the " Playground of the People "to the less overrun by people - Mozambique, just across the Lebombo Mountains.

He saw the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK as a " SANCTUARY FOR FAUNA AND FLORA " to which the Public were admitted.. Therefore the number of visitors had to be confined to within certain specified limits. The then policy of the National Parks was to primarily preserve the areas in the interests of the wild animals. Holiday makers were of a secondary importance. He realised that should this be changed, it would inevitable lead to the disappearnce of the whole character of the PARK and would gradually change into a glorified Zoological Garden, or even worse, into a holiday resort.

He said that the situation requires careful watching since there is a natural and perhaps growing tendency to invert the relative importance of visitors and animals. Keeping this in mind every possible consideration should be shown to the public and every REASONABLE facility provided.

The first object should be to educate the people in the rudiments of natural history. To show people what wild animals look like and behave like in their natural surroundings and their natural state, free from the terror of Man. To realise that the animals are more admirable alive in their natural settings, than converted into bones or trophies or as listless prisoners behind bars.

In the natural state, many riddles of natural history could be answered, in theKRUGER NATIONAL PARK there was as, is still today, greater opportunity for getting nearer the truth than is perhaps anywhere else in the world. How important is the balance between the preyed on and the preyers, should it be artificially adjusted. Since when preyers' numbers are kept down, the preyed on multiply rapidly and the ecology is upset due to evergrazing and disease, eventually greatly encouraging the rapid decline or extinction of the species. What effect does the disappearance of a grass type or a tree or a shrub or whatever have on the whole entity.

_________________
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: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 5:38 pm 
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A QUOTE FROM A MAGAZINE

Stevenson-Hamilton once quoted the following extract from an American periodical:

My boy! you are an American of which you should be proud. I bequeth to you our great land, which we love so well. I hand the heritage to you, as my father passed it to me; but altered and developed a bit. Our forests of course have been cut to the last tree; the last head of game had been shot from the hillside; the last bird from the fields and the streams no longer furnish fish and fur. Our large vast public domain has been fed to the gravel, and is swiftly becoming a desert. The National Parks are shot out. So stay in town my son, and don't stray beyond the pavements; but if you do venture out, remember this - Don't go near the water- our once crystal streams are leprous now. Should you go to the old swimming hole, your feet will mire in bottomless slime and sewage, while the poisonous fumes assail your nostrils. All this is yours my son- your heritage- the great outdoors of America.

He saw the bright side of the picture for South Africa, people were becoming more appreciative of nature. Provided this appreciation grew and was maintained, the quote would never read :

My son ! you are a South African of which you should be proud. I bequeth to you our great land, which we love so well. I hand the heritage to you, as my father passed it to me; but altered and developed a bit. Our forests of course have been cut to the last tree; the last head of game had been shot from the hillside; the last bird from the fields and the streams no longer furnish fish and fur. Our large vast public domain has been fed to the gravel, and is swiftly becoming a desert. The National Parks are shot out. So stay in town my son, and don't stray beyond the pavements; but if you do venture out, remember this - Don't go near the water- our once crystal streams are leprous now. Should you go to the old swimming hole, your feet will mire in bottomless slime and sewage, while the poisonous fumes assail your nostrils. All this is yours my son- your heritage- the great outdoors of our dear land - South Africa.

_________________
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: Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton : 1st Warden of KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:01 am 
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Stevenson Hamilton's writings , particularly the last 2 posts , have influenced my opinions , and how truthfull they are !

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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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