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Beginnings of a bird hide at Marakele National Park

19 February 2009

For quite a long time the Marakele Honorary Rangers (HRs) have envisaged a bird hide at a watering point where they had previously – in anticipation of the bird hide being erected - planted reeds and water lilies in order to attract birds, insects, mammals and reptiles. The ‘planned bird hide’ has been featuring on the Marakele map for some time, but approval of proper building plans and the raising of funds have unfortunately curtailed the proceedings until now. Recently, permission was granted to erect a temporary hide until plans for a permanent hide are approved and the necessary funds are forthcoming.

On Saturday 31 January 2009 preparations started for the erection of the temporary bird hide in Marakele National Park. Under the able leadership and enthusiasm of the Chairperson, Ampie Venter who handled the planning, while preparations were made by Jaap Haakman, five HRs gathered at the site that morning. The HRs began clearing bush and undergrowth – which proved to be hard going. Secateurs, axes, gwalas, a chain saw, pickaxes, hammers & claws, and gardening gloves - and frequent rest periods - were required.

Around lunch time, more HRs members and even ex-members began to assist. While the ladies prepared lunch, the men dug holes for the poles, which had been delivered earlier. After the rains the soil was not too hard, but getting rid of Grewia and Acacia root systems really taxed the strength of the workers. While eating lunch, the rain started pouring down again and work had to be abandoned for the day.

Work on the hide will continue on 21 February, but the HRs have now realised that a bird hide – like Rome - cannot be built in a day! They do, however, plan to have the (temporary) bird hide ready within two to three months.

There is hope to obtain permission for the development of a birding trail (consisting of a sleep-over night) in a section of Marakele National Park, not usually available to tourists. Information about this birding route will be forthcoming.