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 Post subject: Around the Campfire – An introduction
Unread postPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 11:27 am 
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Joined: Wed May 24, 2006 7:48 am
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Location: At the campfire
Welcome to the Honorary Rangers campfire (inserts a single burning match in true Boy Scout tradition to the old fallen bird’s nest used as kindling). The first things you will notice is that there are no paraffin-soaked firelighters here and that we are using dead hardwoods for the fire from previous elephant dinner party romps. While this might sound a little extravagant in terms of sustainability (never mind those hundreds of poor fungi, insects , reptiles, amphibians and small mammals that might have liked to use this wood over the next 10-15 years as home or food), it’s only a once off and its not a full-on bonfire, but before you jump on me for robbing the bush of its pricelessly irreplaceable assets, there will be more about this later, as you will see.

Now pull up a spare log, gather your campfire blanket tighter against winter’s chill night air and sit yourself down to chat a little. No rain is forecast, no elephants are around and there’s hot cocoa and rusks back there on the Tambotie stump’s Cadac stove, please feel free to help yourselves. If you have to smoke, please throw those disgusting butts into the embers – you really don’t want to be dragged into court for starting a runaway bushfire, like certain other inconsiderate folk currently in big trouble…

This campfire has, of late, become a little moribund. So, to avoid it’s relegation to the netherworld, I have decided to offer my services as fireman and host to all the Honorary Rangers (and of course any member of the general public reading this forum) who feel like warming up with a little bush banter and engaging in some erudite repartee and imparting of knowledge, intended partly to help us win that dam’ quiz again two years from now!

Please note that the opinions, conclusions and thoughts displayed in my opening posts on the various subjects below, are mine only as a concerned citizen, and do not represent or ascribe to SA National Parks policy, direction or opinion in any way whatsoever.

Honorary Rangers are either mostly all in day jobs or retired professionals. Some others are too young to work yet and are still at school – these are known as Junior Honorary Rangers. There are about 1,000 of us altogether and we are growing daily. We are spread around all over this beautiful country, and many are experts in the particular Park we work in, but often know very little about other Parks or the particular problems experienced there. We offer our services on a voluntary basis to SANParks in order to assist Parks to achieve their Vision and Mission (see below). This suggests that we need a place where we can discuss certain ecological subjects, and gain knowledge, for while we are on duty in our local Park, members of the public can approach us (and do!) at any time with questions on subjects that we might know little or nothing about, and it seems to me that this could be the ideal forum to address these gaps in our knowledge. You are all most welcome to contribute once you have settled your weary bones and feel comfortable in so doing.

By now you are probably wondering who I am. Certain illustrious folk already know this, and the rest of you may guess, but don’t bother asking around, for those who do know have been sworn to secrecy under pain of a fate worse than death itself. My name shall be Bushwhacker. This is because I work in the bush. (chuckle) There are further clues to my identity in that name for those of you privy to certain not-to-be-revealed information, but suffice it to say, I am here to light the campfire here in your presence and “for the pride and joy of all South Africans and of the world”. May there be many more.

For the record, the SANParks Vision statement, extracted from elsewhere off this website reads:

Quote:
National parks will be the pride and joy of all South Africans and of the world.


while the SANParks Mission (also from this website) reads:

Quote:
To develop and manage a system of national parks that represents the biodiversity, landscapes, and associated heritage assets of South Africa for the sustainable use and benefit of all.


I would like for us all to bear these two thoughts in mind when embarking on our campfire chats, for they form the motive for our very existence as Honorary Rangers in the first place. Not only do they suggest, but actually dictate that ALL South Africans are and should be part of our plans for Parks, and therefore we need to be prepared to engage even those who are vehemently opposed to current sustainability thinking trends and who consistently abuse the environment for personal gain and greed. Let us try and arm ourselves with the tools to counter their statements of self-righteousness and justification while ourselves, sustaining a mood of calmness, fairness and unassailable logic, without having to ever again stand accused of being rude, know-it-all or objectionable, as exposed in an unfortunate but apparently true thread somewhere below.

The subjects we will discuss are many, diverse and complex, so much so that it brings to mind that old line that goes “Its hard to remember our job is to drain the swamp when we’re up to our butts in crocodiles.”. So, go get yourself another cuppa cocoa, and get that tired old bottom of yours back on that there log in time for our first discussion.

I have assembled a list of 51 subjects to start with, and these will be dealt with one by one in no particular order, in no particular hurry as and when I have the time. My day job precludes me from being around on a constant basis, and I therefore beg your commiseration and understanding. I will commit to at least a half hour early every working morning to pop in and see whether I need to respond, and perhaps to introduce the next subject. I hope and trust this will work for you all, and should keep us going for the foreseeable future. The list as it currently stands is as follows (please feel free to reply to this post to add any further subject you would like me to introduce for discussion):

Barkstripping and ringbarking
Bush meat trade
Strip mining
Hunting
Herb gathering
4X4 dune and beach driving
Burning of fossil fuels
Longline fishing
Alien softwood forests
Ivory trade
Tourism
Muti collecting
Collecting of fossils and humanoid artifacts
Poaching
Coral reef destruction
River damming
Dead bush wood gathering
Road networks
Collecting hawk eggs, butterflies, etc
Koppie mining
Wildlife smuggling trade
Elephant culling
Canned lion breeding and hunting
Golf estates
Fencing
Wildlife relocation programs
Over-irrigation and the impact downriver
Bush encroachment
Game lodges
Greenhouse gases
Hardwood tree felling
Overpopulation
Pristine land development
Vehicle exhaust emissions
Land claims
Radioactive power stations
Wars
Slash and burn
Plastics pollution (land and sea)
Draining of wetlands
Global warming
Borehole sinking
Effluent and chemical discharges into rivers and oceans
Radioactive or solid waste disposal
Overfishing with nets
Factory smog pollution
Poisons and pesticides
Landfills
Oil spills
Alien vegetation
Erosion and farming techniques

Owl, please add another couple of Combretum imberbe (eish, not bad, coming from a ver verlate Strandloper, eh?) logs to that virtual fire from the pile – it’s getting a little low I see. Mind the rising sparks folks, it’s gonna get hot around here!

NOTE TO MODERATORS: Thanks for making this post sticky – this will lend reason, credence, explanation and balance to the posts that will follow.

Edited to straighten the record. (Bushwhacker)
Edited to insert the opinion rider above (Bushwacker)

_________________
"When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear, when that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them."
~ Chief Seattle ~


Last edited by Bushwhacker on Mon May 29, 2006 12:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Campfire debate
Unread postPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 4:59 pm 
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Dear Bushwhacker

I think your idea for pseudo campfire discussion of contriversial environmental topics is superb, although I do think you may have lost a few of us on the way with a few tangential ravings, but I suspect that is your own unique style.

Seeming as you reference the Pilanesberg, here's a question (perhaps the moderators should make it a new topic!)

Does the artificial means of restocking Pilanesberg and creating a potential big 5 experience adjacent Sun City benefit conservation from an exposure perspective for people who would otherwise miss out, or is it merely a glorified zoo?


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire debate
Unread postPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 5:16 pm 
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Umvubu wrote:
Seeming as you reference the Pilanesberg, here's a question (perhaps the moderators should make it a new topic!)


Hi Umvubu,
Pilanesberg is not one of the Sanparks, so we can't discuss it here on the forum.


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 Post subject: Bushwhacker Invitation
Unread postPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 5:55 pm 
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Howdy Bushwhacker

You have no idea how frustrating it has been for all SANParks' staff trying to use the web at the moment!

I trust you found the flow of your keyboard somewhat therapeutic and hope that you get a suitable level of response.

In defence of the young elephants, they too are a bunch of volunteers who give of their time and energy willingly and all because they love the parks. Indeed it has been discussed that they should be recognised by the Corps as Friends of SANParks. Perhaps some of them can be invited to regional Corps meetings.

However Gwendolen, while I realise we are not in a position to comment on other parks directly, I think we need to cut Umvubu a bit of slack here. Let's forget she is talking about Pilanesberg per se and more about the concept of restocking areas where the natural macro-fauna has been depleted, and sometimes over the natural carrying capacity. Is this beneficial. I think she is asking about how pure an experience people find such an experience. But let's make it about National Parks. In the view of the readers, when is human intervention in a park or reserve too much?

Another question (and one that is currently being debated at government level) that we should invite comment on is:
Do people think we should have separate provincial conservation bodies in addition to National Parks or would it be more beneficial if there was a single conservation body throughout South Africa?

Tamboti indeed!


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 Post subject: Re: Bushwhacker Invitation
Unread postPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 6:16 pm 
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Owl wrote:
Another question (and one that is currently being debated at government level) that we should invite comment on is:
Do people think we should have separate provincial conservation bodies in addition to National Parks or would it be more beneficial if there was a single conservation body throughout South Africa?


Forumite Bucky made a comment about that earlier in a different thread. It might be interesting to discuss this further. :)


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 6:43 am 
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Good question OWL ... Gwen, I recommend we discuss it here ... it should make for some interesting debate.

Personally I believe that either one will work and either one will not work :?

Why do I say that .. Handing the power to one conservation body might not result in the best management policies for conservation .. Think about a company who has the monopoly in the market .. No competition .. so what they say, GO's .. Not good .. On the other hand having two seperate bodies, you will not get concensus between the two. Numberous example have shown this accros the markets etc.

Each one will react and play their part to the best of their ability for their own benefit and self preservation. I have seen the politics and disputes between such bodies where one might have a good idea, but the other opposes the idea because it has not benefit to their body.

In all seriousness I would hope that 2 bodies can work together but in reality it is a tall order to ask from them.

Which still leaves us with the question .. 1 or 2 bodies?

I just don't know ...

Having the provincial bodies reporting into a main body might be a good idea. I believe there should be more control with this option, as long as they don't become corrupt like other government bodies ... then I believe it should work...

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 12:46 pm 
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Hi everyone.

Re Owl's post:
Hopefully we have now learned that young animals reared in captivity or orphaned cannot be released as a herd without "adult supervision"?

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Reap the Earth's harvest while you still can, for tomorrow there will be nothing.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 12:53 pm 
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@ Wild@Heart:

Quote:
Handing the power to one conservation body might not result in the best management policies for conservation .. Think about a company who has the monopoly in the market .. No competition .. so what they say, GO's .. Not good .. On the other hand having two seperate bodies, you will not get concensus between the two. Numberous example have shown this accros the markets etc.


Well, that assumes that the main driver for the conservation bodies will be Money. You are talking about companies and markets, both of which are always driven by the bottom line. A primary tenet of a conservation body should be that they place conservation before greed and profit - in fact they should be an NGO or anything - just not a profit-making concern.

I agree with you bigtime though on:
Quote:
Each one will react and play their part to the best of their ability for their own benefit and self preservation. I have seen the politics and disputes between such bodies where one might have a good idea, but the other opposes the idea because it has not benefit to their body.


Somebody needs to a bit of out-of-the-box thinking!

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 Post subject: The merits of One conservation body
Unread postPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 1:10 pm 
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The Merits of One Conservation Body

Personally I reckon it would have a subtle balance of pros and cons.

Marketing efforts, decreased confusion in the public eye, interchange of expertise should all benefit, but there would be areas of undoubted favouritism and some areas would be neglected and others favoured.

But as long as the protected status of some of the non- national park reserves is fully secure my personal preference would be to allow for provincial bodies. I believe the new revision of the National Parks Act makes allowance for this. Thus somewhere like St Lucia could be afforded National Park status and name, but still be managed by the province.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 2:51 pm 
Wild@Heart wrote:
Having the provincial bodies reporting into a main body might be a good idea. I believe there should be more control with this option, as long as they don't become corrupt like other government bodies ... then I believe it should work...


I agree with you on this one W@H . To use your example of a big corporation: a lot of big corporations nowadays work with self-managing business units, but these units still report back to a central authority and this authority is also responsible for certain decisions and policies – businesses inside a business
On important conservation issues, standardize conservation policies can be created and be applied countrywide while issues related to a specific province can still be managed by the relevant provincial authority.
What does however bother me is that most of the corruption we have had in SA lately was on provincial level. :?

I agree that conservation should not be a “business” per se, but a lot can be learned from the business world regarding management.


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 Post subject: Re: Bushwhacker Invitation
Unread postPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 10:38 pm 
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Owl wrote:
Tamboti indeed!


I hope that is not for the campfire! :lol: :wink:

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Imberbe = Combretum imberbe = Leadwood = Hardekool = The spirit of the Wildernis!

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


One positive deed is worth more than a thousand critical words.


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 Post subject: Campfire topic - The Muti Trade
Unread postPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 9:13 am 
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Location: At the campfire
Extracted from Wikipedia (the free online encyclopædia):

Quote:
Muti is a term for traditional medicine in Southern Africa. The word Muti is derived from the Zulu word for tree, of which the route is -thi. African Traditional Medicine makes use of various natural products, many of which are derived from trees. For this reason, medicine generally is known as Muti. In Southern Africa, the word Muti is in widespread use in most indigenous African languages, as well as inSouth African English and Afrikaans where it is sometimes used as a slang word for medicine in general. This noun is of the umu / imi class, consequently the singular (tree) is rendered Umuthi and plural (trees) is Imithi. Since the pronunciation of the initial vowel of this umu / imi class of Zulu noun, is unstressed, the singular Umuthi is sometimes heard as 'Muthi'. The word is rendered as Muti due to the historical effects of British Colonial spelling.


The above definition introduces the topic of Muti, Muthi or Umuthi gathering, and the term has evolved to become inclusive of animal products in muti shops.

While the gathering of plant or animal material for muti purposes is widespread in bushveld and indigenous forested areas, such gathering has the potential to become a huge problem within many National Parks, and with the advent of sustainability as a concept in transfrontier parks as well as the considered resettlement of indigenous folk back in their tradional lands as a result of land claims where these happen to exist within Park boundaries, this could become more and more of an issue.

Just how big is the market for traditional muti? The following are extracts from an article on the City of Johannesburg website about Mai Mai, a huge bazaar located on the Eastern side of the Johannesburg city centre, and the traditional muti capital of the Province, with most of its 176 units directly related to traditional healing and the muti trade (with minor adjustments to place in context):

Quote:
Mai Mai is home to some 600 people, many of whom have lived in the complex for decades, evolving into a close-knit, self-contained community. It is the oldest market in Johannesburg and dedicated almost entirely to traditional healing. Apart perhaps, from the Faraday market, no other complex in the country can boast such a rich concentration of traditional herbs and healers.
The sickly of the city flock here to have their ills, physical and spiritual, divined and treated by traditional healers. Indeed, it is here that some spiritual and cultural elements of indigenous South African knowledge have been reworked and preserved.
A python skin competes for space with a dead vulture and a baboon on the ceiling. Other concoctions of an indeterminate nature are placed inside labelled bottles. "Isende lehashi" (horse penis) "Zamafufunyane" (for nightmares and hysteria), "Owobusoka" (guaranteed to improve the romantic fortunes of a bachelor), "Zikatokoloshe" (to ward off an imaginary evil goblin said to spread terror at night).
Some of the potions are reputed to cure common ailments such as pubic lice, persistent headaches and stomachaches, skin rashes and other identifiable illnesses of a physical nature.
"You prepare this by first burning then grinding it," explains Mkhwanazi, a muti vendor in Mai Mai, pointing at the remains of a porcupine which, he says, "mixed with the right choice of herbs and grinded tree barks, renders you invincible before your enemies. You become strong and immune to bad spells and general misfortunes."


It has been noted that widespread damage to trees next to or near to roads in indigenous forests exists, and that plant species diversity is reduced in these easily accessible areas. Make a turn off the N2, 2kms west of the Storms River bridge and stop to visit the Big Tree, a huge, magnificent centuries-old Outeniqua Yellowwood, and the pride and joy of the forestry guardians of the area. A short half-kilometer winding boardwalk through the forest brings you to this awesome tree, presented in all it’s glory with a brown wooden fence around it extolling visitors to leave it alone. You might ask the reason for this? Go around to the back of the tree and look down to the left where the huge roots join the base of the trunk and you will see where someone has neatly removed 30cm or so of bark, 20cm wide, exposing the internal hardwood to the elements, woodworm, forest fungi and bacteria. There are other trees in our forests where so much bark has been removed that there is none left for many meters up the trunk, and as we all know, a ring-barked tree invariably dies. The only known reason for removing bark from a living tree is to supply the muti trade.

Poaching for the muti industry is also a cause for concern as observed above in the Mai Mai article.

If one accepts that 150-odd muti shops exist in Mai Mai, and there are perhaps as many others in Faraday, consider how many there are in traditional suburbs throughout the rest of the country, and you will start to see that there is a looming potential for habitat loss, species loss, bio-diversity reduction and even extinction.

Clearly, the trade in plant and animal products must continue, as the usage is traditionally part of our South African life, but at the current rate of denudation, it won’t be long before there is nothing left of the most sought-after muti resources and only then will this trade be impeded. On the other hand, South Africans surely need to protect our bio-diversity from over-exploitation. We do not inherit wilderness areas from our parents – we borrow them from our children!

I would propose that the campfire attendees discuss solutions with a view to helping make the industry upon which so many people rely, sustainable into the future. Responses should focus on solutions within SANParks reserves as well as generic solutions in the wider countryside, for such solutions will take the pressure that is surely impending, from our Parks.

_________________
"When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear, when that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them."
~ Chief Seattle ~


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 11:21 am 
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Distinguished Virtual Ranger
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Wild@Heart wrote:
Gwen, I recommend we discuss it here ...

That is what I meant. :wink: :lol:


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 11:49 am 
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Location: Red sand, why do I keep thinking of red sand?
I agree with Bodger. Local people always look after "their" park better than someone a thousand miles away.

Lending the SANParks name to all parks makes more sense to me as a foreigner as well. There are more than a thousand small and large parks in SA, yet the South African National Parks board only manages 21 of them.

Most likely private parks will not want to come under that umbrella, however much they can benefit from centralised marketing and advertising, but all publicly owned parks could.

In Holland all the publicly owned parks are managed by "Staatsbosbeheer" (literal translation: State forest management) which used to be part of the Ministry of agriculture. It's now a separate organ, which has made contracts with the ministry concerning all matters and the pricing, but the ministry is still the one carrying the responsibilty of the management.
Staatsbosbeheer is split in 4 regions, all taking care of their part of Holland. This setup works very well here.

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Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 3:00 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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For a start, some of us already pass frozen roadkills on to Onderstepoort for research, others stop and toss them into the bush to save crows, owls and hawks from being hit by vehicles while they scavenge the carcass, while still others drive past without a thought, or worse still over them. Why not take them home and freeze them to pass on to the sangomas? How much would it take to set up a central collection point - maybe at the local Park?

Surely many of the required herbs, tubers, bulbs and creepers could be cultivated, relieving pressure on the bush? This would require funding, but could provide jobs.

Zoos and reptile parks could keep carcases of their casualties and forward these for distribution? The python referred to above comes to mind. Animal rehab centres could be brought into this picture too.

I don't know what to say about giant trees that have been around for centuries, except that maybe one largish plantation of young trees could be harvested regularly on a rotation basis, never removing all the bark in a ring...?

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Henri Frederic Amiel (1821-1881)
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