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:
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:
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
4X4 dune and beach driving
Burning of fossil fuels
Alien softwood forests
Collecting of fossils and humanoid artifacts
Coral reef destruction
Dead bush wood gathering
Collecting hawk eggs, butterflies, etc
Wildlife smuggling trade
Canned lion breeding and hunting
Wildlife relocation programs
Over-irrigation and the impact downriver
Hardwood tree felling
Pristine land development
Vehicle exhaust emissions
Radioactive power stations
Slash and burn
Plastics pollution (land and sea)
Draining of wetlands
Effluent and chemical discharges into rivers and oceans
Radioactive or solid waste disposal
Overfishing with nets
Factory smog pollution
Poisons and pesticides
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)