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Indaba 2004 Review
SANParks Honorary Rangers celebrate 40 years at their Annual Indaba
Overlapping with the Elephant Indaba at Berg-en-Dal was the annual Honorary Rangers’ Indaba in Skukuza from Wednesday the 20th to Sunday the 24th of October.
The 500 odd honorary rangers (HRs) volunteer their services and provide a lifeline of financial, equipment, manpower and marketing support to SANParks. This year also marked the 40th anniversary of their formal constitution in only Kruger, where originally they served as supplementary rules enforcers to visitors.
Now operating nationally, during 2003/04, the HRs collectively put in more than 36 000 working hours to provide a support service to SANParks. They traveled almost 283 000km at own cost while on duty and raised R11.4 million for various projects in our National Parks. They successfully completed 67 projects during the year within their 23 regions.
The first couple of days consisted of behind the scenes tours to the alien invader combat unit, the game capture bomas and the corporate investigation services counter poaching headquarters at Huhla. Participants were divided into groups of 3 and interchanged between the 3 tours. It was a fascinating insight for the HRs to be able to see how their funds and equipment has been used. All three of these units would not be able to function without the supplementary assistance that has been provided by the HRs over the last few years.
On the Friday evening there was a wildlife quiz challenge hosted by 50/50’s Quinton Coetzee, with an immaculate Kudu trophy sponsored by SASOL. 2 SANParks teams (one from Groenkloof and one from Kruger), 2 HR teams and a team from SASOL took part. All teams showed great all round knowledge of various aspects of parks, fauna, flora and abiotic elements. After 2 hours of questions and exhibits the team from Groenkloof managed to triumph, with the HR A team second and Kruger third.
After the festivities of the previous evening, it was down to serious business on Saturday morning when the AGM was held for just short of 6 hours. Both Glenn Phillips and Chris Patton made presentations on behalf on SANParks, thanking the HRs for their efforts and encouraging them for future targets. With Ernie Blom stepping aside, Janssen Davies was elected the new Chairman of the Honorary Rangers. Mr. Davies, the CEO of Sage and brother to Kruger staff member Peter Davies is bound to be a dynamic and inspirational leader who has great experience in effecting transformation. He himself has been an HR for over 25 years.
The Indaba was rounded off with a celebratory dinner in the Skukuza restaurant for over 300 people. A band of orphaned children from the communities bordering the park performed some wonderful tribal dancing as an entrée. This was contrasted with some bagpipe players in recognition of the evening’s guest of honour Jamie Stevenson-Hamilton, son of the first warden of Kruger James Stevenson Hamilton after whom Skukuza is named. Dr Mkhize delivered a very moving tribute address to the HRs on behalf of SANParks. It was a fantastic way to end a wonderful Indaba, a year of tremendous contribution to SANParks and to toast 40 years of selfless endeavour by the Corps.