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2009 Honorary Rangers Indaba held in Kgalagadi
Upon arrival, accommodation was sorted out, gift packs were handed out and weary bones were rested after the long journey, old friendships rekindled from previous Indabas and exploration of this fascinating country, animals and peoples alike started. Of course, for Bushveld people to see Gemsbuck, or Oryx, and Springbuck is already a great achievement.
Friday evening saw the quiz handled by Clive Webber, and hosted by Quintin Coetzee. This was won by the Rhino Region, with the necessary complaining and judges decisions being queried, all in good spirits. Well done to Ellen Abel, Eugene Joubert, Des Bothma and Koos Vorster from the Free State and KZN cluster. The evening culminated in a Kalahari evening, where guests were treated to a lip smacking array of local cuisine and South African food and wine, some people actually took great advantage of the sponsored wines, as the nods and odd snores during Saturday’s Indaba attested.
The Indaba in the old aircraft hangar was opened by Janssen Davies, HR NEC chairperson, and the welcome done by Kgalagadi Park Manager Nico van der Walt. Guest speakers Joep Stevens (General Manager: Tourism Operations) and Dr Guss Mills entertained and educated the members present with their talks, and guest went away with a better sense of what honorary rangers do and what SANParks expect them to do. Regions had the opportunity to hear what others do, and share advice and ideas during tea and lunch breaks.
A great donation was made by Toyota SA and Toyota Care, in the form of a Toyota SRX 4x4 that was donated for use by SANParks in the area. John Turner from the Ranger Support Services National Project and his able team donated equipment worth R84 800 to the area Rangers, and this was well received.
Davies motivated members present with a great statement, asking people and members to do this voluntary duty from the heart, to find a place where time and money does not matter, and that will be our greatest contribution. HR achieved the majority of the Balanced Score Card Objectives, increasing the numbers by 10% was one them, and 10.99% was achieved. Another aim was to increase the PDI (Or HDI) component by 20%, which sadly missed the mark, and only achieved 16.76%; this aspect will receive greater emphasis in the coming year. The overall contribution to SANParks for 2008 grew by 11.2% to a total of a whopping R21,9 million!
Junior Rangers numbers declined due a “clean-up”, but the able members of the Junior Rangers corps will get the number up again in the near future. The Environmental Education target was expected to rise by 10%, but actually increased by a good 72%, well done to the PEAP members and supporters!
Congratulations to Lowveld region for their nomination as Region of the Year for 2008, the members worked hard for this, and deserve the limelight. iKapa region's’Penguin nesting project won the Project of the Year for 2008 , and a hearty well done to them as well.
The culmination of any Indaba is the gala dinner, which was held at the Molopo Lodge, a good 50km away from the Park, but well presented, nevertheless. The guest speaker was Quintin Coetzee who delivered an address to 160 odd guests about his Bushmen/business relations, with much enthusiasm and his knowledge was a great inspiration.
As is the habit, deserving members and people are honoured by the NEC with merit awards at the gala dinner, and several were handed out. Well done to Quintin and Kerry Coetzee, Glen Philips, Ellen Abel, Johan Stone, Patrick Reniers, Dudley Schooff who received a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to the HRs since its inception in 1964, Andrè Vosloo, Andrè van der Merwe, Eddie Cassani, Dorothy Bickley (posthumously), Jeanette Curling, Jannie Nel, Kendal Janson, Angela Altendorfer, William Elliot, Robert Abel, Hannes du Toit and Charles Hardy.
The challenges facing the HRs for 2009 and in the near future are transformation, SANParks Communications protocol, uniforms and discipline amongst members. These are not great challenges, but once they are engineered out, or overcome, our corps will grow from strength to strength.
Once again, a great well done and accolades to Willie Engelbrecht and his team from the Boland region, it was a memorable Indaba, and well worth the travel! The SANParks staff at Kgalagadi made all feel very welcome, and are a great bunch of people, they deserve a big medal for their efforts, from the Park Manager right though to the cleaners, the HRs say thank you!
The overall experience of the Indaba was that the event was well organised, thought through and well executed. Congratulations to the leadership, and each and every person who had a hand in this Indaba of 2009, well done ladies and gentlemen, you did the HR Corps proud!