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HR NEC & chairpersons meet in Groenkloof

07 April 2010

On 12-13 March Groenkloof was once again the meeting venue for the Honorary Rangers NEC and the chairpersons from all over the country.

The NEC discussed various HR matters, amongst which the constitution, Memorandum of Agreement with SANParks, finances, administration, uniforms as well as the Sand River Bush Camp Draft ranked top priority.

Several new regions have been inaugurated since the last meeting, and a warm welcome to Kgalagadi, Bontebok, Knysna, Virtual HRs, Midrand and the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. The aim is to eventually have each of the National Parks serviced and adopted by it’s own region. Some regions have very few members, but they are already making an impact in the delivery to SANParks.

After many months of planning and discussion with SANPark has resulted in the new concept of Virtual Honorary Rangers (VHRs). These VHRs have even had their first “virtual” meeting in cyberspace and the concept has piqued a lot of interest. The main difference is that the members are all SANParks' forum moderators where some members live in Europe. This creates some logistical problems but they have all been overcome. The new regions in the arid areas will have their fair share of challenges, however, there is much confidence in their ability to grow and prosper in making their contribution to the environment.

With the application for outside funds from Lotto, it has become apparent that HR regions have to get their houses in order with regard to finances. Audited statements are required before sponsors begin to view applications, and the regions were urged to comply.

The NEC have been granted three dates for presenting their own bush camps at Sand River in the Kruger National Park (KNP), and a golf day is in a well advanced stage of planning. The NEC wishes to reduce, or even do away with completely, the annual fees that HR’s are required to pay to the NEC. This will go a long way in paving the way to reduce barriers of entry for HR’s, and make the targets set by SANParks management a little easier to reach.

Statistics for 2009 have not been completed, but the initial indications are that HRs have done a lot better, compared to previous years. Membership numbers are well up, monetary contributions as well as duties show a marked increase and the NEC are hoping to achieve more than R18 million in overall contributions to SANParks for 2009.

The uniform issue has not been solved as yet, but HRs have the go-ahead to wear the golf shirts purchased from the KwaZulu-Natal region. The shirts will be an interim measure until the uniforms are available for purchase once again. Everyone welcomed the new shirts, saying that new members can now help in duties, and not sit on the sidelines anymore.

The HRs will support the sales of kuduzelas and Mike Lodge will endeavour to try and make them available as a consignment stock. It was again stressed that where they are sold in National Parks, they are only to be used once outside the gate.

The NEC Chairperson would like to see a healthy campaign to elect new NEC members at the next Indaba, and has asked all regions to support this. New members need to be introduced into the NEC, and older members should endeavour to train them, thereby insuring continued support to regions and SANParks alike.

The various National Projects gave their feedback and all are performing well. There is a continued growth in the support that John Turner and his team from Counter Poaching and Ranger Support Services (CP & RSS) are giving, and Grant Coleman gave feedback on the newly reconstructed Sand River Bush Camp, where in excess of R150 000 was spent to date.

The NEC meeting concluded with a braai and the chairpersons’ who were left after a gruelling day, dragged themselves home to recuperate for the next round. Good progress was made, and all members look forward to the next meeting at Golden Gate Highlands National Park during the annual Indaba.