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Honorary Rangers

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Indaba 2006 – Tsitsikamma National Park 

(See HR Gallery for photographs)

General Review

The annual Honorary Ranger (HR) Indaba was held in Tsitsikamma National Park from the 9th to the 14th of May.

The regulated volunteers that make up the Honorary Rangers Corps travel from 24 regions for their Annual General Meeting, known as the Indaba.

This year they met in Tsitsikamma to coincide with the 10th Anniversary of the Tsitsikamma Honorary Rangers.

The first three days of the Indaba were dedicated to 3 well attended special courses. These were a tree identification course, an inter-tidal pools marine ecology course run by Professor George and Dr. Margo Branch and a photography course run by SANParks photographer Eric Reisinger.

After 3 days of workshops, the Indaba was formally opened on Saturday the 13th at 08h30 by NEC Chairperson Janssen Davies and SANParks representatives made their presentations. SANParks Director of Tourism Glenn Phillips gave an account of some of the Corporate Issues during 2005/6 before detailing the year in Tourism and Business Development, highlighting some of the issues SANParks management deals with.

Ishmael Makwaeba gave an account of People and Conservation’s activities, followed by Dr Hugo Bezuidenhout’s account of the Conservation and Scientific Services year. Andrew Desmet, Kruger Activities Manager spoke about happenings in the park and introduced the audience to the newly launched Olifants Back Pack Trail.
Rob Beckwith and Alison Esterhuysen presented an account of the success of the Gauteng regions’ displays and “educationals” at shopping centres and primary schools. While some other regions are involved with similar activities it is hoped that these efforts continue to grow across the entire Corps.

Chris Patton formally thanked the Corp on behalf of SANParks making special mention of several areas of excellence and illustrating how the Honorary Rangers are now featured on the SANParks Balanced Scorecard.

As an important component in SANParks operations, identifying areas where the Corps must look to measure themselves and continue to excel is a challenge for the time ahead.
Two special merit awards were presented to 2 of the founders of the Tsitsikamma Region, Toffie and Joyce Blumenthal. The couple have been giants in their support for the park and the HR region and only mounting years and ill health have dampened their involvement.

Honorary Rangers reports and presentations during the meeting included ones on Administration, a Chairman’s Address, Finance, Regional Project feedback, Strategic Projects (including Youth Development), Statistics and Training. Additionally each of the National Project Leaders also reported back, including the Alien Invader Task Group, Ranger Support Services, Trunk Call and Veterinary Wildlife Services. A presentation by some Junior Honorary Rangers from Addo Region was well received and an indication of a growing future conservation constituency. Marakele Regional Chairman Bennie Coetzee outlaid the plan for next years event in Marakele National Park, while Johannesburg Chairman Grant Jamieson pitched for his region to host the event in 2008 at a location to be decided (Golden Gate and Kruger the 2 likely options). This was accepted by the attending members.

The event closed with the voting for an enlarged National Executive Council for the upcoming year. Each region was able to vote for 10 members and the newly elected council was appointed and held their first informal gathering. New members included Ashraf Sayed (Johannesburg), Paul Maluleke (Pretoria), Ted Nkuna (Letaba) and John Brankin (East Rand
At the closing Gala dinner several merit awards were handed out for outstanding contribution by Honorary Rangers over extended periods. Among those receiving awards were Mike and Jenny Lodge of West Coast, Hans von Gordon of Addo, Rob Beckwith and Connie Schmidt of Johannesburg and lastly to Janssen Davies, the current NEC Chairman. 4 additional awards will be made to non attending members at their respective upcoming regional meetings.

Attendees enjoyed a number of social events, including the annual quiz challenge, a slide show and a number of superb meals including a bring and braai at the picnic spot near the Storms River Mouth, a delectable seafood potjie, and a spit braai with compliments of the Addo Park Management.
Many thanks to Tsitsikamma HR Chairman Andre Van Heerden and the hard-working team from his region for being consummate hosts.