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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:51 am 
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Ben Pretorius.

Ben Pretorius was born on 3 June 1942 on the farm Blokkloof in the Western Transvaal between Koster and Zwartruggens. During a school tour to the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, he made up his mind about what his career would be.

After matriculating at the Rodeon Hoërskool he worked as clerk at the Maize Board, he did not quite enjoy his job; he wanted to work in the bush of Africa. Ben applied for a position and eventually his dream came true in 1966 when appointed as Rest Camp Manager/ Game Ranger of the Golden Gate National Park. He was soon transferred to The Tsitsikamma National Park, after two months in the Cape he got the good news that he is being transferred to Skukuza.

The new section Ranger Ben Pretorius started his dream career on New Years Day 1967. He married the love of his life Quarta Dannhauser – a school teacher from the Orange Free State during 1968.

Ranger Ben Pretorius was soon named Mashambela (one who can stand his man) by his field staff for very obvious reasons.

After the honeymoon the Ranger and his new bride were transferred to Shingwedzi. Here they soon settled and really enjoyed the quiet, the area being closed to visitors during the hot and often very wet summer months from 15 October to 1 May. They were often cut off from the rest of the world when the Shingwedzi or Letaba Rivers or of their tributaries or creeks were in flood.

Once the Rangers from the Dipene post reported to Ben that they had come across drag marks, Ben realised something was wrong, at that stage his brother in Law Chris Dannhauser was visiting and Ben invited Chris to join him. After following the drag marks along the Dzombo Creek they came across the cause, a Buffalo Bull, the animal became aware of the Rangers and took off but not too fast, eventually the Rangers got close enough and saw that the poor beast had cable snares around it’s neck, one was still tied to its anchor, a Mopani tree which it was dragging along.

After the suffering had been ended the angered Ranger inspected the carcass and found that there were five cables cutting deeply into flesh of the poor animal. Just imagine the suffering as the tree got stuck and then loosened by the power of the Buffalo bull.

Chris mentioned to me the care that Ben took by first ensuring the safety of the group and then the careful investigation of the condition of the animal as well as all the factors considered before the final decision was made . . . . .

Chris is now Professor Chris Dannhauser at the University of Venda.

The young couple enjoyed every minute of it even the out of order paraffin fridge or freezer did not seem to matter very much.

One day while out on patrol along the Shilowa Road with his Rangers from the Kostini post, they went to a waterhole from where the Rangers had heard a peculiar not unlike the growl of a Lion or a Leopard. Getting closer to the reeds surrounding the waterhole they heard sounds of suffocation. Getting closer they noticed the emaciated body of a Lioness less than a meter from the water edge, tied to a stump of wood which had been caught between two trees. The smell of decay convinced that there was only one way out. On inspection it was found that the wire snare had cut into her neck right through her trachea, from where the strange sounds were coming.

Ben was sent to the then Rhodesia in 1973, to take care of the Roan Antelope while in quarantine destined for translocation to the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK. Quarta joined him and the couple spent a very happy period.

After two months the big Hercules Aircraft arrived for them to return to Kruger with their Roan, to be kept in the Roan Camp west of the Lebombos between Shingwedzi and Punda Maria. A little bit of the Pretorius couple stayed behind in the dust at Tjolotso south of the Wankie National Park.

It was a great day when their Roan were released to roam the veldt of the Lebombo plains.

Being transferred to the city named Skukuza in 1977, caused quite a stir to them Ben now had much admin work to attend to and spent much les time in the veldt than before. Quarta could also no longer accompany him when he had the opportunity to go to where his heart really was, as the barefoot Sub A’s and B’s of the Skukuza School had a new attractive young teacher.

Once from the Park’s helicopter near Lower Sabie, Ben noticed a scenic fountain and decided that he would go and visit this spot as soon as the opportunity arose. Soon he had a bit of time and went off on his scrambler, leaving his rifle at home. Near to the little fountain, Ben got off and walked forward on the hard rocky surface, he noticed a Reedbuck in the thicket, he then saw a movement and a Lioness came out of the bush and trotted of to the Reedbuck which in the meantime had transformed into a Lion cub. The Lioness looked at Ben and Ben looked at her. Fortunately there was no confrontation or any more Lions between Ben and the scrambler as he slowly back tracked, step by very careful step, not moving an eye away from the golden mother and her young cub. Ben then decided that no matter how uncomfortable it may be but never again without his rifle.

After 4 years in the City they were in 1981, transferred to Olifants, where they spent three very happy years.

Ben and Quarta spent 5 weeks during June and July of 1981, on the S A Morgenster on their ocean voyage to America.

It was quite an adventure docking in Houston and then the last of their journey to Fort Worth near Dallas where everything is supposed to be bigger and better in the company of 17 young Elephants. The Ranger and his wife were quite sad when their ways parted with their companions from Africa. After touring a bit they were on their way to Kennedy Airport and back to where they belonged.

Fortunately for the Pretorius couple they were then transferred away from the civilized world, to Punda Maria where they spent their happiest 14 years in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

Ranger Ben Pretorius was the designer of the A frame accommodation erected at the Nyalaland trail north of Punda Maria, which was later extended to the other trail camps.

Ben spent March and April 1985 in Malawi taking care of the quarantined Lichtenstein Hartebeest destined for translocation to the KUGER NATIONAL PARK.

After the 14 years at Punda Maria their transfer to Pretoriuskop required quite a lot of getting used to, no matter how much they tried, Ben Pretorius could never quite get used to the area carrying a similar name.

Ben Pretorius had to leave the service of the then National Parks Board due to Operation Prevail, 11 months before his retirement date. Ben and Quarta settled in their retirement home in Naboomspruit in September 2001.

Ben gave his all to his dream come true and the place he really loved, he is remembered for his sharing of his knowledge and vast experience by all he came contact with, especially the greenhorns.

Shortly after retiring from the National Parks Board service Ben was approached by the CSIR to assist in their collection of medicinal plants, he accepted and the couple again spent many very happy months in the veldt.

Ben Pretorius got ill and was admitted to the Faery Glen Hospital on 30 August 2002 where he spent his last few days until his time came on 5 September 2002.

The happy couple only spent a few months together in their retirement home in Golf Park Naboomspruit.

Quarta and Ben spent much of their time together, the Lady joining the Ranger in the veldt, their tracks still lay on and around Dzundzwini and Skipberg and Pafuri and Crooks Corner and Olifants and the Lebombos and the Levhuvu and . . . . . . . .

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


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:39 am 
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Fanie Botha

Fanie Both was born on a farm between Petrusburg and Koffiefontein in the southern Free State, where he received his schooling and grew up.

After leaving school he joined the S A Police. His heart was in the bush and decided to apply for a position as Ranger in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

He got the position and was employed as a Ranger from 1966 to 1974.

Fanie Botha ended his bachelorship when he married his wife Nonnie. She mentioned that they were married in the morning and that Eddie Young and his wife that same afternoon. Both couples spent their honeymoon at Satara staying with the Camp manager and his family.

He started at Mahlamahla later called Klipkoppies North West of Olifants, then at Kingfisherspruit near Orpen and then at Malelane.

Mahlamahla = Sable Antelope in the Tsonga language, in addition to being a Ranger’s post also served as a border post for people coming from Mozambique.

Fanie worked very closely with Gus Adendorff posted at Letaba.

As with all Rangers Fanie had a very special relationship with his black staff mostly Shanganes, they had to have absolute trust in one another especially in difficult circumstances.


While out on patrol once they came across two Leopard cubs, he mentioned that they should catch them and hand rear them, the reply no, the mother will get us.

While at Malelane there was a huge poaching problem, one of his Rangers Watch Twala found 17 snares in the veldt in the area where the Nsikazi joins the Crocodile River. Assistance was given and Rangers were placed a pair in ambush at a few of the snares. Two days later the poachers arrived where Watch was in ambush.

On confronting the poachers, one shouted that they are going to get him as he had been active in arresting poachers in the past. He raised his axe and charged Watch. The Ranger raised his rifle and fired an overhead warning shot. The bullet hit the sharp side of the raised axe head and split in two, one piece into oblivion and the other struck the poacher in the arm, severing an artery. He ran off and little distance further collapsed. Watch found him dead.

The case was reported to the S A P who arrived, took statements and wanted to arrest watch. Ranger Botha intervened and offered to keep Watch as his responsibility until the case was to be heard, after some deliberation it was agreed to.

Justice Lammie Snyman heard the case in Nelspruit. Much was done to convince everyone that the Ranger acted while carrying out his duty. During the trial Watch was asked whether it was his intention to shoot and kill the poacher. The reply was no it was his intention to fire a warning shot. Justice Snyman then asked how he could prove this, the reply: “Nkosi if I wanted to kill him I would have done so” the question “how” the answer “by shooting him in the forehead”.

Ranger Watch Twala was found not guilty and the case was closed.

On another occasion Ranger Botha and his assistant Elimon were marking trees which were to be removed in making a new road between Klipkoppies and Letaba.

The two were busy with their task about 8 km away from Klipkoppies when Elimon tapped on his leg and pointed in the direction of a bush, a loud growl followed from the charging Lioness. She stopped short. All of a sudden there was a charge from another direction – a huge male Lion this time, it also stopped short, close enough for Elimon and Fanie to be splattered with earth, stones and grass seeds from the brake marks of the Lion. It snarled at the two and then turned and went to the Lioness and her two cubs. Fanie following it with his loaded 375 magnum, not shooting

They backed off and carried on marking the trees no one saying a word. They would later return to the detour to complete the marking. Fanie felt like a smoke and went to sit on a fallen tree. He put his already stuffed pipe in his mouth but could not light it, his hands were shaking . . . .

Later arriving at Letaba Elimon told of the other staff about their experience who in turn told Gus Adendorff the Ranger there, about it. Fanie got a dressing down and was told that he should have shot the male. Fanie said yes he could but it turned away. Gus told Fanie that had the male tackled him the Lioness would have joined in, he may have been able to shoot the male but its momentum would have bowled him over and then he would not have had sufficient time to cock the rifle and shoot the female. He should have shot the male when first noticed. They agreed to disagree, how could he shoot the animal where he Fanie Botha was the intruder?

Fanie afterwards realised how easily one could land in a situation and act not knowing what the actual outcome may have been.

One day out in his vehicle he approached the Maloponyane windmill, it was hot and the animals were standing around and not drinking. He watched for a while and suspected that the Elephants had again as their habit was – lifted the ball valve. He got out and walked towards the trough, past some Ilala Palm bushes, there was a loud roar and dust coming from the charging Lion who lay in ambush. Fanie froze and then heard someone running towards him, next moment Elimon stuck the 375 into his hands.

The Ranger felt quite humiliated and fired two shots into the calcrete behind the big male Lion who responded by angrily turning around and striking at the flying pieces, snarling at the two humans and then disappeared. Elimon asked why he did not shoot the Lion after the dressing down by Gus, the reply “how could I shoot and kill the King of the bush”. Elimon understood.

Fanie Botha said he preferred the penetration of the 375 magnum to the stopping power of the 458 or 600 calibre.

Gus Adendorff was also one of the true pioneer Game Rangers. He refused to catch game to be sold and was very much against the tarring of roads in the Park as it would ruin the authenticity of the bush.

Fanie very often, while on the crest of the faraway Lebombos saw the dust curtain hanging over the main road between Satara and the Letaba River.

An American called Jones once purchased 20 Elephant calves from the Parks Board. These had to be caught kept in quarantine and then crated and sent to the ranch in America. Adendorff blankly refused to have anything to do with this.

Fanie Botha was instructed to carry out the task.

The team arrived and a helicopter was used, the procedure was to separate the calves from the herd, and then chase the herd away, easier said than done. However they got going. Fanie was the only Ranger who always took his rifle into the helicopter; the pilot Cor Beeck enquired why he had this habit, the reply “for just in case an angry mother gets hold of this low flying helicopter, I could shoot you first”. Needless to say the pilot kept the ’copter out of reach . . . . . The calves were caught and immobilized with the assistance of Drs. Eddie Young and Valerius de Vos from the Veterinary Dept.

Game control (culling) was a duty least liked by the Rangers, finding volunteers was difficult so therefore instruction to carry out this duty had to be issued.

Fanie told of an instance where this unpleasant task had to be carried out in the Shawu valley.

The animals were darted from the helicopter and given an overdose of anaesthetic. The darted animals were down and the workers started their task. Young Louis Olivier and Ludwig Wagner were then working for the Veterinary Department and were assigned to take blood samples. Normally, from an exposed artery behind the ear. One of the cows had collapsed onto her knees and Ludwig Wagner who was quite short got onto her back to obtain the sample.

Ranger Fanie Botha was standing point on top of his Landrover, ensuring that all was safe for the other parks employees doing their duties during this operation.

Unknown to Ludwig, the dart had struck a bone and the full dose of anaesthetic was not released. The cow seemed to recover and got up, everyone scattered with the short Ludwig tearing off into the tall grass. Fanie noticed a parting of the tall grass and then realised it was the fleeing running and jumping Ludwig; reminding him of a fox terrier chasing and pouncing a mouse in long grass.

Afterwards there was a lot of laughing and joking when this incident was recalled.

Once Gus Adendorff was driving along a firebreak and noticed a Mamba too late, he drove over the snake. He stopped and saw the snake was gone, he suspected that it had somehow or the other got into the engine. The bonnet was carefully raised and sure enough there it was. Gus got out his rifle and shot and killed the snake. After all the action they heard a noise of running liquid. The bullet had killed the snake and penetrated the oil sump- the oil was running out.

Fortunately Gus was a man, who believed in good hygiene, he took some of the Sunlight soap from the cubby hole, softened it and sealed the bullet hole. They reached home without any further incidents.

Ranger Botha had a field post on the banks of the Makhadzispruit near to where the Engelhard Dam is now.

The post was manned by two Field Rangers, one of them Julius came and got permission for his wife and their two children to visit him for a fortnight. Permission was granted and family got together.

One evening Julius heard the younger child crying, he lit the little paraffin lamp and then the older child also started crying. In the poor light he noticed an Mfezi (Cobra snake). He killed the snake and then attended the children, discovering that both had been bitten.

Julius immediately took both children and set of on his bicycle in the dark of the night, to Letaba where he woke Gus Adendorff and the four of them immediately set off by vehicle to the Phalaborwa hospital.

Unfortunately the younger child did not survive; all were very much saddened by this tragedy.

When questioned about the Shangane antidote for snake bite, Fanie replied that he had heard of it but had no experience of it.

Another instance mentioned was that of a Python biting an employee although the wound had been thoroughly cleaned and attended to, it took quite a while to heal.

One day Gus Adendorff was driving along and came across an Elephant obstructing the road. Gus stopped and as was customary struck the outside of the door with his hand, the elephant never realised that it was supposed to get out of the way, it came forward, stuck its tusks through the drivers door, gave the vehicle and the occupants a few shakes and walked off.

Poaching has always been a big problem. Some adjoining landowners would often shoot an animal like a Zebra, cut it open and drag it along the bordering fence. The carcass would be chained to a tree close to the border and the fence lifted.

Lions would be attracted by the smell of the dragged carcass and then crawl through the lifted fence and feed off the carcass, where they would then be shot by some “hunter” to the substantial financial gain of the greedy unscrupulous landowner.

Unless caught red handed it was very difficult getting a successful prosecution.

It was always heartbreaking to see animals dying with festering wounds or finding emaciated snared carcasses in the veldt.

Many a white poacher was also come across and arrested in the south western area of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

Van Reenen van Vuuren was the newly appointed Ranger at Crocodile Bridge.

Soon after his appointment in the pub at Komatipoort the barman introduced him to the other customers. A little later a white Portuguese citizen from neighbouring Mozambique entered and was introduced to the new Ranger. He mentioned that he was pleased to meet him and that he hopes that he does not come across van Vuuren again as he would not like shooting him. Van Vuuren got the message and made up his mind.

Not very much longer the Field Rangers reported that an Elephant had been shot by poachers. The earlier mentioned Portuguese was present.

The new Ranger went to investigate and found the poacher still busy, chopping out the tusks and cutting up the flesh.

When confronted the Portuguese attacked van Vuuren, making a big mistake. The lot were arrested and on appearing in court sated that they were illegally arrested as they were in Mozambican territory.

A land surveyor went out and confirmed that the Elephant was poached within the boundaries of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

The poachers were found guilty and sentenced.

Fanie mentioned that one day him and Peet Otto the principal of the Malelane School joined him travelling along the Nsikazi. While on their way a herd of Waterbuck crossed the road. On their return journey they found the bull lying in the road. They stopped and it still did not move. Upon investigation it was found that a steel cable was twisted around its horns and somehow worked its way through the skull into the brain. The death of another snared animal!

Fanie has a video taken at Kloppersfontein of a white Lion.

He also told of one day when he and Nonnie drove along the Sweni Spruit, stopping at a drinking trough saw a Buffalo Bull and a full grown Leopard sharing the trough about 6 metres apart, one on either side.

Nonnie told of a Cheetah female and her three half grown cubs they came across at the Ngirivana Dam. The cubs were playing and the mother wanted to move on, she called but was just ignored, being a mother herself she found this quite amusing.

Nonnie also told about the resident Badger at Tamboti tented Camp. It lived in a hole under their tent, it raided the dust bins from tent no 1 to the last. Looking for something sweet or whatever was available. Fanie remarked on the peculiar habits of this interesting fearless animal. He also mentioned about the name the Shanganes have for it- deriving from its biting and defensive habits, rather not repeated here.

Fanie told stories about Tsotsi – the late Ampie Espag, the then Ranger at Nwanedzi, he had three tame warthogs. They used to ruin his wife Sannie’s garden. They were kept in a fenced off pen. In the morning when opened they would go to the garden and when chased off, into the veldt. When penning time arrived or if Ampie was not sure where they were he would give a sharp loud whistle and they would come tearing along with their tails upright, straight to the pen. Visitors were also heartily greeted by the three.

Fanie mentioned that a definite highlight for himself and most of the Rangers was when the negotiations with the Natal Parks Board were successfully concluded and it was agreed that White and Black Rhino would be donated to the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

Of the Rangers were sent to Hluhluwe and Umfolozi to assist in the capture and care for these animals. Eventually in 1968, the convoy arrived at the Pretoriuskop breeding Camp and the first Rhino set foot on KRUGER soil in approximately half a century. Approximately 200 White Rhino were moved to KRUGER, the forefathers of those now regularly sighted in the Park.

The first Black Rhinos were brought in during 1972, Fanie remarked on the damage they caused to the holding crates.

Upon release they were kept in the breeding Camp where Thys Mostert and his team, together with help from the other eager and helpful Rangers took great care of their new acquisition.

Even after being released the Rhino were closely monitored to ensure their survival in and area where they had been eradicated from.

The little community was very closely knit; they shared in one another’s joys and heart sore especially when Mrs. De Beer the wife of Nic was killed by a Leopard while out on her daily walk through the staff village in Skukuza . . . . .

During a function at the Skukuza many take aways were for sale and purchased. Hannes Kloppers and his wife also attended. Hannes remembered that something quickly had to be done at home not very far from the little school. He told his wife that he would return soon. It was getting late and still no Hanes, eventually Mrs. Kloppers decided to go home. She set off a cake in each hand. In the distance near their home she noticed a lot of activity, getting closer she found Hannes chasing some visitors of the feline family. It is assumed that the Kloppers family had trifle the following day.

Speeding seems to have been a problem then possibly less than now. Fanie told that one morning very early they were on their way from Skukuza to Lower Sabie. About a quarter of the way down they came across a Golf in the veldt next to the road towards the Sabie River. The whole front smashed in, the result of a collision with a Hippopotamus. Judging from the time of day and the distance travelled from Lower Sabie, it was impossible that the distance covered could have been done adhering to the speed limit.

The old timers keep close contact with one another, apparently the restaurant at Komatipoort serving fresh seafood is a favourite hideout for Fanie Botha, Mike English, Ted Whitfield Louis Olivier and their wives where many hours are spent chatting and remembering the good old days.

Close ties are also still with Tom Yssel, Quarta, the wife of the late Ben Pretorius, Ben Lamprecht, Dr. Tol and Mrs Anette Pienaar. Johan Oelofse, their distant relative as well as Johan Klopper – the mentor of many of the old timers, Piet Bronkhorst and many others.

Fanie and Nonnie are now spending their retirement in Bloemfontein; the Bothas still enjoy visiting their favourite place, their favourite Camps being Mbiyamiti, Satara and Mopani.

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


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:21 am 
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:thumbs_up:

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


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:04 am 
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G.L. van Rooyen.

Gert and Susanna van Rooyen lived in the Greytown area in Natal.

Gert was a qualified motor mechanic who loved tinkering with engines, what he could not buy he made himself. He loved nature and his skills as the manufacturer of what was not readily available soon led to him experimenting in the manufacturing of crossbows.

The manufacturing of crossbows led to his next development; the manufacturing of arrows and darts. He sold his first crossbow and darts to the National Parks Board in 1961 the then State Veterinarian Dr. J.W. van Niekerk found them superior to the equipment imported from the U.S.A.

Eventually Gert moved to the Northern Transvaal to a Nature Reserve adjoining the Hans Merensky reserve near Gravelotte. Here he developed his skills and was soon manufacturing crossbows and darts to other Game concerns the National Parks Board now became one of his very regular customers.

He was offered the position of Instrument Maker at SKUKUZA with the task of developing Game Capture Equipment during 1968.

A typical kit consisted of the crossbow, a range finder and the darts.


In the meantime Mr. van Rooyen developed a single barrelled rifle for firing darts which made the administering drugs from the helicopter much easier.

A further advancement was when Mr. van Rooyen converted a 20 gauge shotgun to a Game Capture Gun. Soon double and single barrelled guns were in use propelling the darts by firing blanks.

The darts often caused injury to the animal, a break through came when the drop out/retractable dart was developed in 1973, the needle only remained imbedded while the dose of the dart content was administered, on completion the barb would retract and the dart would drop off. This procedure never lasted more that two seconds.

These drop out darts were very successfully used in the Anthrax inoculation of the Roan Antelope which simultaneously marked the darted antelope by on impact spraying it with Gentian violate and dispensing the drug.

This new development was put to good use in immobilizing animals in Game Capture operations and during Game Culling Operations.

A dart bank was started in order to ensure that in case of mass requirement, there would be sufficient darts available, The National Parks Board soon were in a position to also sell of their manufactured darts.

The Research Section was in the position to immobilize or mark any animal from a Grysbok to an Elephant with minimal losses with the aid of the developed tranquilizers and the crossbow and dart or the carbon dioxide propelled dart from the modified rifle and eventually the converted shotgun blank propelled dart.

Mr. Gert van Rooyen was also instrumental in the improving of an existing system of pop-up nets, which was for the first time successfully used in the Mountain Zebra Park. These nets were buried in trenches and then at an opportune moment triggered remotely and then immediately sprang upright. This system was very successfully used in the recapturing of the Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest in their protective enclosure.

Mr. Gert Leopold van Rooyen retired from the employment of the National Parks Board in 1987, but was still often afterwards tasked as a contractor to carry out certain duties.

Indeed a remarkable man!

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


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:03 am 
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:thumbs_up:

Did I read somewhere that his son followed him up as instument maker in KNP ?

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


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:04 am 
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:clap: :clap: Thanks for your effords gmlsmit :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:24 am 
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Many thanks for your posts gmlsmit. Just remembered an amusing little anecdote to illustrate Ampie Espag`s sense of humour. I happened to be at the old Punda gate one morning when he worked there as a tourist officer before he retired. He seemed to be a little flustered but suggested with a smile that he had made a lot of money for the park that very morning. He explained that a spider had run over the cash register keys and in his efforts to kill it he had inadvertantly pressed a lot of keys and the register had just kept on running. When it eventually stopped a couple of metres of cash register receipts showed sales of thousands of rands. He always saw the funny side of things - a real person he was.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:43 am 
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Oom Ampie was a great character. :D

Gert van Rooyen's son Lynn joined him as Instrument Maker and became a Ranger in KRUGER, his bit will be placed quite soon. :thumbs_up:

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


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:45 am 
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The Orpen Family.

The Orpen family must surely be rated as the greatest well do-ers to the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

The Barry family originally lived in Swellendam, where they were very successful traders. Thomas Daniël Barry trekked from Pietermaritzburg to Harrismith by ox wagon during 1880 where he purchased and settled on a farm of approximately 20 000 hectares. He later became a member of the Cape Parliament.

Daughter Eileen Akerman Barry was from being a youngster a true nature lover. She met James Havelock Orpen who was a surveyor in one of the Gold Mines in Johannesburg. The two fell in love and got married in Johannesburg in 1909.

The couple moved to the then Rhodesia and settled in Bulawayo. They returned to South Africa during 1914 and settled in the Cape Province where James established himself in the Fishing Industry.

Due to the poor health of their eldest son, Barry the family moved to the farm Afrikaskop; in the Orange Free State between Bethlehem and Harrismith during 1922. Barry got married in 1933 and father James and mother Eileen left the farm in his hands and moved to Johannesburg, where James continued his position of Land Surveyor.

James surveyed many of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK borders free of charge, here wife Eileen could dedicate her life and love to her interest in life: NATURE CONSERVATION.

James and Eileen were both members of the Wildlife Society of South Africa, they were inspired by the Chairman H. B. Papenfus who was also a member of the National Parks Board, and the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK soon became their main interest in life.

James laid out the Shingwedzi Rest Camp and was also involved in planning and the surveying of many roads around Pretoriuskop.

James played a very active role in the Proclamation of the Mountain Zebra National Park during 1937.

He also surveyed the boundaries of the Addo Elephant National Park.

James Havelock Orpen became a member of the Board of the South African national Parks during November 1939, where he served as member for 14 years, doing excellent work in the preservation of our National heritage.

Eileen Orpen funded the Randspruit borehole and a windmill during the Bertram Jeary “Water for Wildlife” campaign during the severe drought of 1931.

It was announced in February 1934 the Eileen Orpen had raised funds and purchased the Farm Chalons (4492 hectares) north of the Rabelais Gate and donated it to the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK. This donation was Proclaimed as part of KRUGER on 10 April 1935.
Later on Eileen Orpen purchased a further six farms and donated them to KRUGER; Kingfisherspruit (4185 hectares) and Red Gorton (4024 hectares) both in February 1941, Blackberry Glenn (3547 hectares) and Hengel (832 hectares) and Sikkeltowkloof (4050 hectares) all in June 1942, and Houtboschrand (3394 hectares) in February 1944.

She also purchased the farm Newington (1720 hectares) during 1946, however it was too far from the western boundary to be incorporated into Kruger.

James Orpen was elected President of South African Wildlife Society during 1943, a position he held until 1939.

The Orpen couple represented the Union of South Africa at an International Conference on Nature Conservation, held in the United States of America in 1949.

The Orpen couple were commemorated by the plaques on the rock face being unveiled along the road between Skukuza and Tshokwane on4 October 1944. The “Eileen” windmill along the Shishakashangodzospruit on Chalons was also named after the Lady who had contributed so much during the “water for Wildlife” project.

The entrance gate to KRUGER on the Western Boundary “Rabelais” was moved to the western boundary of the farm Kingfisherspruit and together with the Timbavati Rest camp named after this caring family.

Eileen Orpen’s time came on 24 May 1954 and husband James Orpen followed four days later, they were both buried at Bethlehem in the Orange Free State.

Next time you travel along the road to Tshokwane from Skukuza, please stop for a few minutes and while viewing the “Orpen Memorial” plaques or while having a sandwhich and a cup of tea in the cool shade overlooking the Orpen Dam which was completed in 1944 also with funds raised and donated, or when entering the PARK through the Orpen Gate or staying over in the Rest Camp bearing their names spend a few minutes in the garden and then ponder for a few moments and remember this remarkable couple who truly contributed so much to our Wildlife Heritage”.

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


Last edited by gmlsmit on Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:51 am 
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Great reading :clap: Did I hear correctly? Did someone mention something about a new book by gmlsmt? I want one :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:33 pm 
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Herbert Lang.

Anyone visiting the Stevenson Hamilton Library at Skukuza may have seen very old photographs and some artwork displayed; with the name Herbert Lang mentioned.

Herbert Lang was an American Physicist and Photographer; he had a long acquaintance with many American Museums especially with the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

He arrived in South Africa during 1926 en route to Angola. He was so impressed with this AFRICAN Country that he decided to settle here, making the old Transvaal museum his headquarters. Soon after settling here he befriended H.S. Varnay and he joined in on a scientific expedition to the Kalahari during 1930.

Herbert Lang was a dedicated Nature Conserver and fought the policy of the Veterinary Dept of Natal policy of eradicating the Zululand wildlife in their campaign against the Tsetse Fly, with all he had.

Herbert Lang did a census of the White and Black Rhino population in the Zululand Reserves.

The photographer used a wooden box camera to take his photographs, many of them are on display in the above mentioned library, all will agree that they are of exceptional quality.

He made many visits to the Northern Areas of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK during the 1930’s where he took some of his world renowned photographs. During one of his visits to Punda Maria Herbert Lang discovered a strange looking reptile, it was identified as being a member of the family Amphibinidae or a Worm Lizard, it was about 13.5 cm in length, that delved into loose soil hunting termites in rotting vegetation. The specimen was later named Chirindia langi by Dr. V. Fitzsimons in 1939.

Herbert Lang died during May 1957 after a long illness.

Of Herbert Lang’s work can also be viewed at the Transvaal Museum.

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


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:58 am 
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Hennie Carlson.

Hennie was born in Randfontein. The family moved to0 the KRUGER PARK, where his father was employed, he started his schooling in January 1963 at SKUKUZA Primary School where there were four different standards in one class taught by Mrs. Schoeman.

The Children living in SKUKUZA had quite a lot to do like building go carts, it appears that the races they held between the SKUKUZA Post Office and the Camp Entrance Gate often drew quite a large crowd of spectators, many of them visitors to the Park.

Fishing in the KRUGER Rivers was also a high priority pass time; much to the annoyance of worried parents. The children often arrived home out of breath after being come across by Buffalo or Hippo.

The boys also secretly built a dug-out on which they explored the rivers and streams, this came to an end when the parents became aware of this new game.

After completing Primary School he attended Rob Ferreira High School in Nelspruit.

Father Jan was killed while on duty during a dynamite explosion accident.

After school Hennie qualified as a Diesel Mechanic at SKUKUZA and was employed in the Roads Department in the Kruger National Park. Hennie assisted in the tarring of the road between Lower Sabie and Letaba and also in the clearing of the bush on the Eastern Boundary under the supervision of Mr. Jan van Achtenberg the Workshop Manager.

They had many close shaves with the Elephant population, while working out in the bush.

The members of the RAMKAMP (the SKUKUZA single quarters) had a lot of leisure time, maybe that is why Oom Don Lowe was appointed Head Ranger, he was short tempered and strong enough to maintain this lot being; Hennie, Danie Joubert, Willem Gertenbach, Tom Yssel, Dave Barnes, Louis Olivier, Stephan Stephanson and many others who shall for obvious reasons remain unnamed.

Dave Barnes had a tame Baboon who on many Saturday afternoons and early evenings joined in the fun in sharing in the contents of a brown bottle around a fire with the other members of the SKUKUZA RUGBY TEAM, in the “RAMKAMP”.

Hennie mentioned the close relationship the employees in the KRUGER PARK had with one another, no matter who you were or what your job was, they cared and shared, a memory he will always treasure.

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


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:49 am 
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Ted Whitfield Part 1.

Edmund Alexander Whitfield was born in a house overlooking the Joubert Bridge on 12 April 1936; in the mining town of Pilgrims Rest – Mpumalanga.

Ted attended the Pilgrims Rest Primary School and did his high schooling at Pretoria Boys High and Belfast High School.

Free time was spent camping in the mountains, hunting Dassies and birds and then preparing a well earned meal for him and the accompanying friends. They climbed mountains and krantzes, swam in the strong flowing Blyde River and did the things boys should do.

The citizens of Pilgrims Rest were a close knit community; there was also a Mac Donald family with a daughter named Sue.

In 1949; while at Pretoria Boys High, the boy from Pilgrims Rest took part in sport and won the under 13 Pretoria Inter Schools Gala, he also played rugby in the under 13A team, unfortunately he was ruptured and was laid off from sport for two years after an operation.

Ted completed his schooling at Belfast at the end of 1954. Here he was a School and Hostel Prefect, he captained the first Cricket Eleven as well as the Belfast House Eleven, he played for the First Rugby Team, he captained the Belfast House Rugby, he excelled in High Jump and Javelin. Ted was a member of the Northern Command Shooting Team and was also a member representing the Command at the S.A. Cadet Bisley. Ted was also a leader of the Anglican Church Sunday School.

Ted’s teacher got a distinction in the application of the cane, after his success in coaxing Edmund Whitfield into doing his homework.

Ted just could not acclimatize to town life; he was convinced that his destiny was in the AFRICAN BUSH.

Young Edmund shot his first Wildebeest on a Farm in the Klaserie District at the age of seven, he did a lot of hunting until the age of 15, there were no fences and the wild game animals could still migrate as their instincts led them. Ted soon realised that the animals could not last and became more conservation minded. His first application to became a Ranger in the Kruger National Park was sent to the then Warden – Col. Sandenbergh at the age of 14 years- he was not successful.

During the September 1952 school holidays Ted spent a whole afternoon following two bull Elephants on the farm Rome along the Olifants River. This was a very special occasion to the young schoolboy as Elephants were a rarity in those days and these were the first he could observe properly. After he got back to school he heard that these animals had been shot by Fauna and Flora near Mica, Ted was very upset with Fauna and Flora as he felt this was the duty of the Police and not Fauna and Flora.

After school Ted wanted to join the Game Department in Kenya or Tanganyika – now Tanzania. Many arguments with his concerned parent later he followed their advice and did a 5 year apprenticeship as a motor mechanic at the SA. Forest Investments Garage in Graskop, he understood that this would help him one day in future when he was spending his life in the bush – parents always seem to know better in the long run. While doing his apprenticeship he stayed in the Acme single quarters, here he had access to a horse and often borrowed it for his frequent visits to God’s Window and Lisbon Falls and many of the other beautiful places and that wonderful part of our Country.

Ted bought himself a motorcycle and after his fathers death in 1960 moved back home where he lived with his Mom at Pilgrims Rest and working in Pilgrims Rest. His Mother convinced him that he was becoming a “proper country bumpkin” and that he should go to town to “see how other people lived”.

Ted got a job at Leyland Albion in Elandsfontein and a flat in Hillbrow, after three months of loneliness, Ted had seen and had enough of how “other people lived” and he returned to Pilgrims Rest and worked as a motor Mechanic on the mine.

Towards the end of 1961 Ted’s life changed. One morning Oom Bam Kettlitz and Vis Visagie from T.P.A. (Transvaal Provincial Administration) turned up at the garage saying that the local Magistrate while attending the Local Game Advisory Committee meeting, mentioned him. A quick “interview” was held with the mechanic Ted where he was asked whether he could ride a horse and whether he could handle a rifle. After the interview Oom Bam told the mechanic that he should write to them.

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


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:33 am 
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Thank you for this excellent thread ...
A recent picture to help the forumites picture this legend of the KNP ... to me the archetypal image of a ranger , as can be seen in Jan Rodrigues books on Kruger Rangers .

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


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
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Ted Whitfield Part 2.


Ted considered the “interview” and also discussed it with his mother, who convinced him to “write to them” as it was a way to get into Nature Conservation for by then he already had a pile of “sorry you were unsuccessful in your application” letters from the National Parks Board.

Ted “wrote to them” and after a successful interview became a Nature conservation Officer at the beginning of February 1962. They turned out to be an excellent crowd and Ted loved his job and today still has very many good memories of those days . . . .

After a month in Pretoria at Head Office and a week doing anti-poaching patrols in the Rhodesdrift area along the Great Limpopo River Ted was stationed at Klaserie with Oom Frikkie Laubsher an old ex-policeman for whom he had the greatest respect and from whom he learned almost everything he knows about law-enforcement and court procedures.

His main duties were anti poaching patrols and raids, game counts in the Pilgrims Rest Magisterial District which was his area of responsibility, control of Elephants from the Crocodile to the Great Limpopo Rivers and game capture. This was before the days of the “wonder drugs, M99 and Sernilon. Game was captured by using beaters and horses who drove the animals into a “drukgang” a crush-pen or by grabbing them by their tales from the horse’s back. This was very exciting and many riders very often discovered that they were not as keen horsemen as they imagined themselves to have been, while nursing their bruises at night after a day at work.

There were many falls; Chris Bekker landed up in hospital with a cracked back and 6 broken ribs after hitting a jutting Marula tree, the following day he was joined by Oom James van Rooyen with his neck in traction when he fell on his head after his horse had stepped into a hole.

Ted also fell of Kolbooi at least once a day, he was fortunate as he mostly lost some skin or gained some thorns, one day Ted and Kolbooi were in pursuit of a Zebra, while doing their best to get it into the drukgang, him and Kolbooi had a different route around a tree in mind, Ted got knocked off and Kolbooi was only found the following day, grazing in the veldt unharmed.

Sue Mac Donald became Mrs. Ted Whitfield at Pilgrims Rest on 11 August 1962.

Daughter Sharon Anne was borne in the Assistant Native Commissioner’s house at Bushbuckridge on 23 August 1963.

Son Ernest Edmund was born at the Ethel Lucas Memorial Hospital at Acornhoek on 7 September 1964 and Steven James at the same hospital on 22 March 1968.

Ted Whitfield was appointed Warden of the Timbavati Private Game Reserve on 1 April 1964, where there were big poaching problems in the south of the Reserve which bordered on what was then Native Trust. The old Orpen Road used to pass through the reserve for approximately 20 km.
Ted spent about half his time on anti-poaching patrols, the rest was spent in court or building their thatched roof house and checking the camps of the owners, carting mealie-meal, repairing pumps, camps were also constructed for the reintroduction of four White Rhino and Four Sable. Impala, Wildebeest and Giraffe numbers had to be controlled, culling operations took place in the winter months, a biltong room had to be built where the culled animals’ meat was dried and then delivered to Fattis and Monis and Thrupps in Johannesburg.

One day while out on patrol Ted had quite a nasty experience, while walking he heard growling from a Ghwarriebush and out came a Lioness in full charge towards him, she stopped a little distance away and then out cam another Lioness charging a meter or so closer. The first Lioness growled and angrily moved a meter closer than no two and then stopped, number two took her turn and moved a meter closer, this continued until Ted realised that shooting one of them now would be too late they were both too close, he decided to slowly retreat towards his vehicle.

Close to the bakkie Ted turned around and jumped in, on his way home he only realised how close he had come to his end.

The Whitfield’s house burned down on 2 February 1970 and they lost most of their possessions. Ted was not at home and Sue got out what she could but soon no one could come near the burning thatch.

_________________
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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